A cursory glance at our social fabric today reveals a story that’s far from pleasant. What meets the eye is an increasingly alarming tendency to embrace one-upmanship, intolerance and conflict. And this malaise has assumed global proportions, fueled by a burgeoning population, disparity in distribution of resources and skewed revenue models adopted by multinational corporations, as they unleash their wares. Can a parallel be drawn between this phenomenon on the one hand and on the other, the systematic step-motherly treatment being meted out to the medium of Radio, especially Public Service Broadcasters of the world, subjecting them to the tyranny of market forces? A specialist may be able to place the analogy in chronological perspective.
Radio has played a crucial, stellar role over the past nine decades or so in shaping up our collective existence, so to say. Reams can be filled up on the role of radio during and after World War II, since it was a powerful medium for propaganda, as well as re-uniting efforts for the displaced ; it was a medium palatable even for the semi-literate. The plethora of programming formats that comprised the medium was able to cater to one and all, doing justice to its intended objective of informing, educating, and entertaining.
All India Radio and its vast network is possibly one of the few broadcasting organisations of the world which still cater to audiences using time tested formats such as Talks, Interviews, News, Sports and non-sports Commentaries, Discussions, Drama, Features/Documentaries and Radio Magazines, ensuring last mile inclusivity with altruistic underpinnings.
Of course there are critics… and there should be. But those who have an increasing tendency of saying, “Times have changed!” seem to be oblivious of the fact that superficial facets of human beings may have undergone a sea of change over the decades, but internally our core value system remains pretty much the same, with virtues such as Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace closest to our hearts. Ask any family, you’ll get the answer. And it is only the world’s Public Service Broadcasters who have the pedigree and the wherewithal to re-propagate these virtues subtly into society, using creative ways. World Radio Day is but a grim reminder to people and governments to set this powerful tool in order, before forces driven by ‘smart’ motives create points of no return.
It’s time to re-visit and re-create sounds of sanity, before it’s too late. For humanity.
By: Manoj Mainkar, Programme Executive, Central Hindi Features Unit, All India Radio