RADIO & CHALLENGES OF GLOBALIZATION
IMPACT ON DIALECT PROGRAMMES
(Paper presented at the 4th International Radio Forum on 16-17 May 2012 at Zibakenar (IRAN) on the occasion of 12th International Radio Festival of Iran organized by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting by Sh.PRATUL JOSHI, PROGRAMME EXECUTIVE, ALL INDIA RADIO , LUCKNOW INDIA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mob. 919452739500)
I am Pratul Joshi , working in All India Radio, Lucknow. Lucknow is the Capital of Uttar Pradesh, which is most populous state of India. The population of Uttar Pradesh is around 200 million as per census of year 2011.
Friends, Globalization has been defined in different ways for different purposes. Here I would like to refer one definition according to which, “Globalization is detradionalizing. It tends to strip away the value of traditional ritual & symbols & that of course includes way of speaking” (Ref:Coupland.N Introductions “Sociolinguistics & Globalization” journal of Sociolinguistics p.p.465-472)
The transformation of language and identity is taking place in different countries in different manners. The Impact of Globalization can be felt if one analyses how Radio Programmers have transformed in recent past in India. In India, the process of Globalization intensified in the last decade of 20th century when in the realm of trade & commerce the doors of the country were wide open for the whole world. This process has its impact on the electronic media too where the monopoly of state owned Radio and television started breaking. All India Radio, which was the only electronic media for decades, started facing tough challenges from private T.V. Channels in the initial years of Globalization. Later, through a decision of court, private Radio Stations were also allowed in the late nineties of last century. All these events changed completely the scenario of B’casting in India. Today we have a very complex picture of B’casting. So on one hand, still All India Radio is the biggest Radio network of country which has got reach over 99.14% of the population and covering 91.79 % of the total area through its 277 Radio Stations. On the other hand private FM Channels are also very popular in cities and metropolis supplying urban centric programs. The third category is of community radio stations which are being operated either by the NGOs or through educational institutions.
Place of dialects in the age of Globalization
All India Radio is the only organization in the country which b’cast programmes in dialects. Only exception to AIR is a few community Radio Stations which are serving in remote or interior areas.
AIR b’cast in 146 dialects apart from 26 languages. These dialects are spread across the length and breath of the country. But a major part of these dialects are either in hilly areas or in areas were still tribal culture is very prominent.
Dialect Program b’cast
Since the inception of b’casting in India, dialect programmes has been identified with the rural folks or with tribal people.It was the thinking of then b’caster that rural people and tribals understand more easily in their dialects.So in the majority of programmes which are rural areas oriented,the presernters speak in dialects.Stock characters were used to be very popular in these programmes. These stock characters would adopt some humorous and popular nick names and these nick names would identify that programme. Now the stock characters are part of Radio history.I would like to mention two such characters.One stock character who became very popular in AIR Patna(i.e.capital of Bihar, a state of India) was LOHA SINGH.The literal translation of this name is Iron Man.So this Iron Man used to speak a language which was very humourous as it was a mix of a number of languages and dialects. Loha singh is a myth now because he invented a new kind of language. In seventies and eighties of last century, this made him hero among the audience. Not only people of rural areas were his fan but people living in urban areas liked him equally.
The other stock character which is still remembered even after 30 years of his death and whose old recordings are still popular among the audience is "Bahre Baba" The literal meaning of "Bahre Baba" is “the deaf grand uncle". "Bahre Baba" used to pretend as if he was suffering from some kind of hearing loss. So he would be taking a different meaning from every word which used to be said to him. But it has to be phonetically near to the original word.
These stock characters made Radio very popular among the masses though they used the local dialects only. The masses identified themselves through them. These stock characters shared the joy and the sorrows of the local people. Wherever AIR stations were presents and were b’casting rural programmes, one or two or more stock characters made their presence felt among the audience. With their unique nick names and use of dialects in interesting manner they have created history.
Advent of Globalization and disappearance of stock characters.
The last two decades of globalization has witnessed the gradual weaning away of stock characters from Radio sets. One main reason is that the new generation of b’casters is derooted from the traditions and culture of rural areas. They have been born and brought up in cities and their connection with the villages is very nominal. Secondly the needs of rural areas have also changed. Now the rural areas have transformed a lot. People love to watch different T.V. channels. The children are studying in English medium schools even in villages. And the rate of migration to cities is very high. Inspite of all these, the rural programes are still b’cast in local dialects and craving for folk songs is still there. The people in rural areas tune to AIR for their popular folk songs as well as to get information about the availability of seeds, manures, irrigation facilities, new technologies for agricultural production and many other things like this.
Multinational Companies and Dialect Programes
With the increase in purchasing power of rural people, multinational companies have found a big market in rural areas of India. According to the Census of India 2011, the percentage of population living in rural areas is around 69 % which would be around 833 millions. This vast market could be captured by the MNCs only if they communicate in the popular dialect of the area and are getting it b’cast from AIR under sponsored programme category. The MNCs are mounting programmes in local dialects. Even if programme is not in fully local dialect, a major part of programme would be of folk songs. Thus there was a marked shift in the programme content of AIR. Just contrary to yesteryears when sponsored programme used to be very less in number, now there is a heavy influx of programmes produced by the MNCs.How dialects are still powerful in the rural areas of India, can be understood by the case study of MNCs sponsored programmes.
Dialects still hold sway in the North-Eastern part of India
North-East India is a group of eight states which are situated in the North- Eastern part of India. These are Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Sikkim. These states are mostly dominated by the different tribes. So they have got a unique tribal cultural identity. Secondly, the terrain of these states is hilly. Third, because of geographical location and impact of tribal culture, the influence of mainstream India (particularly of bollywould films) is very less in comparison to other parts of India. Thus the dialects play a very important role in this part of country. AIR is b’casting programmes and news in more than 50 dialects in this small region. For most people of this region, AIR is the only medium of communication through which they receive news and other informations. Besides spoken words, the other attraction of these programmes is folk songs.
AIR directorate gives special emphasis to this area. A NE special software package is released every year which have special grants for production of Radio programmes. So the producers of AIR visit far flung areas, which are sometimes can be reached only through by on foot journey (sometimes it takes 2 to 3 days to reach some of these places). This exercise of giving special emphasis for preserving tribal culture has given new colours to b’casting in this area. Thus every year Hundreds of programmes are being produced in different dialects which are showcase of this unique tribal culture.
The future of Dialect programmes
It is often said that Globalization leads to standardization of the languages and in this process, dialects are bound to vanish. It is also true that sweetness of any culture is exhibited in the language and dialect of that culture. So to preserve the sweetness and uniqueness of different cultures, to preserve the cultural identities, it is necessary that there should be intervention from the side of Government. School curriculum should include local dialects in their syllabus. The children should be motivated right from their early days to speak in their dialects, to understand the dialects of their parents rather of their grand parents. Public b’casting centres should have one of their departments which are completely devoted for the researches and promotion of dialect culture. Local level, State level, National level & International level festivals of folk dances and folk music may be organized by the governments of different countries. If proper and timely intervention is not taken, we are bound to live in a world where we would find Mcdonald, KFCs, Pepsi, Hollywood movies everywhere but will not be having our language, our dialects, our folk songs, our culture in our families. I would conclude with the famous saying – “when a language dies, the culture it supported dies alongwith it, erasing the culture who created it”.