Wednesday, 8 May 2019

A Pledge Renewed

May 6, 2019 was a maitree-filled day at the headquarters of All India Radio as a high level delegation led by Md. Abdul Malek, Secretary, Ministry of Information, Govt. of Bangladesh met the Director General and other senior officers of All India Radio to take yet another step forward in a journey that began long years ago. 

A journey of bonding through airwaves that go back all the way to the War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. A journey that saw some momentous milestones in the long and illustrious history of sound broadcasting.

Many a time during the day’s deliberations, speakers from both countries harked back to those tumultuous days when radio waves from India would beam into beleaguered East Pakistan the anthem song of their War of Liberation– “Bangladesh, Amaar Bangladesh” – a martial song to who’s rousing beat the Mukti Bahini marched. A song written, composed and sung from Kolkata, from beyond their borders, from another nation whose soldiers marched shoulder to shoulder with them. An iconic song of a war where boundaries blurred and the Ganga and Padma came together in a confluence of blood, sweat and tears.

There were fond references to the iconic voice of AIR Kolkata - Debdulal Bandyopadhyay - whose readings of Sangbad Parikrama, kept listeners spell-bound on both sides of the border. The voice that unspooled stories of struggle and suffering, of death and despair… epiphany and euphoria, of hope and survival, the aspirations of a fledgling nation, and the blessings bestowed on it by a neighbouring one that only sought maitree in return.

There were warm references to how that journey of sound broadcasting was carried forward to 23 August 2016 when Akashvani Maitree channel was launched – a historic venture where airwaves served as a bridge between two nations, a first between broadcasting organizations of two nations in content sharing. As our airwaves began to beam shared songs of a shared past, we looked forward to a future of greater sharing and caring.

We moved forward to 8 April 2018 when a MoU was inked between Prasar Bharati and Bangladesh Betar during the visit of India's Foreign Secretary to Dhaka.

It was to renew the bonds, renew the pledges that the officials of both countries came together in Fielden Hall of Akashvani Bhawan on 6 May 2019. For early implementation of the MoU on content sharing, co-production and cooperation in other fields of radio broadcasting.  

The mood was warm. The spirit of give-and-take infectious. F Sheheryar, Director General, AIR assured the Bangladesh delegation of every cooperation.

Md. Abdul Malek, Secretary, Ministry of Information, Bangladesh affirmed their commitment to “work hand in hand with the Indian side” who he said “is very much committed.”

“Relationship between India and Bangladesh is a relationship of the heart,” added Ira Joshi, DG News, AIR

Amlan Majumdar, Director,  External Services Division made a presentation showcasing  the  vision and objectives of Akashvani Maitree and its achievements so far. The presentation also highlighted the entire gamut of issues relating to the implementation process of the MoU and some key features of the MoU.

The delegation were taken around the studios of the historic Broadcasting House where interviews of Md. Abdul Malek were recorded for the News Services Division and Akashvani Maitree.

By  Basudha Banerji

Key features of the MoU

Co-production of radio programmes
  • To undertake co-production of radio programmes particularly in the areas of music, theatre, folk theatre, literature, oral traditions, film based programmes,
  •  Programmes promoting tourism, sports, agriculture,
  • Advances in the fields of medicine, ICT
  • Opportunities for education, business, possible joint ventures

Cooperation in the fields of news gathering
  •  Betar and AIR will work to strengthen their co-operative relationship in news gathering.
  • Subject to the specific news gathering requirements of each party, Betar and AIR will discuss with each other ways in which each party could  co-operate.
Cooperation in the fields of training for skill development
  •  To cooperate in the fields of training for skill development of their respective manpower.
  •  Parties agree to exchange training facilities in the fields of  programme production, news reporting, technical fields,
  •  Capacity building in the fields of archiving and archive management, on-job training, orientation of existing programme and technical staff of the two organizations, language skill trainings etc.
  •  The expenses for the training for their respective staff shall be borne by the parties. 

Joint production of programme series
  • Parties agree to jointly produce one daily news bulletin of ten minutes to strengthen cooperative relationship in news-gathering.
  •  The said news bulletin shall focus on cooperation between the two countries in various developmental aspects like tourism, commerce and trade, sports, culture, agriculture, climate change etc.
To exchange technical knowhow
  • To cooperate and exchange knowledge with each other in the fields of technical knowhow
  • Jointly work in the area of research and development of broadcast technology so as to ensure state of the art technical facilities are available to both the parties.
  •  Parties agree to cooperate in the fields of research and development for modernization, digital media and capacity building in the areas of radio programming and signal transmission.
  •  Under this article, parties also agree to work in the field of developing low cost technology solutions, sharing of best practices etc.

Cooperation in the field of programme exchange
  •  Both the parties are repositories of large and rich treasure of audio programmes which can be exchanged between them for broadcast and other purposes.
  •  Programmes based on archival recordings in the categories of music of all genre, theater, folk theater, oral tradition, voices of renowned personalities, historic events etc could be exchanged
  • Besides the archival programmes mentioned above, contemporary interesting programmes on literature, cinema, theatre, culture, music, sports, science and technology, business, language,
  • Programmes on best practices, developmental stories relating to micro savings, HDI issues, rural development, agriculture and allied issues, issues concerning women, trafficking, migration, democratic values, secularism etc. shall also be shared.

Distribution of Radio Signals
  • To cooperate in the fields of distributing radio signals of each other on reciprocal basis.
  • Parties agree to provide identified slots/platforms to each other in their respective domestic radio stations for re-broadcast of programmes.
  • Under this Memorandum, All India Radio shall provide identified slots for broadcast of programmes from Betar in its home service channels in West Bengal.