Civil society organisation withdraws collaboration with AIR for Mahatma Gandhi commemorative event

Convener of organisation says that a senior AIR official has disagreements with the performances scheduled

November 12, 2022 10:50 pm | Updated 10:50 pm IST - New Delhi

Photo: Twitter/@AkashvaniAIR

Photo: Twitter/@AkashvaniAIR

Jan Prasar, a civil society organisation, has withdrawn its collaboration with All India Radio (AIR) for the Public Broadcasting Day service, which is held every year on November 12, commemorating Mahatma Gandhi’s first and last radio address in 1947.

Mr. Gandhi had on this date in 1947 addressed more than two lakh refugees of the Kurukshetra camp after having been unable to go there personally.

On November 12, 2000, then Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj had declared the day as Public Service Broadcasting Day [ Jan Prasaran Divas]. Jan Prasar had been collaborating with the AIR to organise this event.

In a letter to Prasar Bharti CEO Mayank Agrawal, however, Jan Prasar has withdrawn from the collaboration this year.

Convenor of the citizen’s initiative organisation, Suhas Borker, said in the letter that a senior AIR official had called up the school which was scheduled to perform two songs for a commemorative broadcast and asked them to drop one which was an English hymn “without our knowledge and breaking all SOPs”.

“The officer is reported to have said: ‘It [English] is not our language’, thereby implying that the Christian hymn cannot be sung,” Mr. Borker said in the letter.

He also raised objection to the scheduled performance of the BSF Jazz band as part of the programme this year. “While we have great respect for our paramilitary forces and their role in protecting the security of our country, to have a paramilitary jazz band play to commemorate Gandhiji’s first and only live broadcast on All India Radio is not only inappropriate but a travesty of a solemn occasion”.

Mr. Borker said that Gandhiji’s life embodied and exemplified values of “pluralism and secularism” in both word and deed and that a commemoration of his first and only live broadcast on All India Radio should turn out to be “a negation of these values” was unacceptable to the organisation.

Jan Prasar said it was also for the first time that the programme would be held without the prayer meeting protocol wherein the attendees sit on the ground – a tradition that has been followed for the past 25 years – when the 50th anniversary of the event was jointly organised by the AIR and Jan Prasar.

“For the above-said reasons, we are constrained to withdraw our collaboration for the event scheduled for today, November 12, 2022, to commemorate Public Service Broadcasting Day at the Broadcasting House, New Delhi,” he added.

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