All India Radio (AIR) coming to Canada – and other countries

New Delhi (PTI): The AIR is planning to launch new services for several countries, including Japan, Germany and some in the Commonwealth of Independent States, with an aim to supplement the government’s diplomatic efforts and outreach programs to the Indian diaspora, an official said.

Canada, South Africa and Maldives are also among the countries the All India Radio (AIR) plans to reach to, ESD Director Amlanjyoti Mazumdar told PTI.

Currently, the External Services Division (ESD) of the AIR covers around 150 countries with programmes in 27 languages–14 of them targeting neighbouring countries and nations in Southeast Asia. The ESD plans to expand its global presence now, targeting nations hitherto uncovered by the AIR.

“The ESD has proposed to introduce new services for some countries like Japan, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Maldives and some of the Commonwealth of Independent States countries,” Mazumdar said.

The Commonwealth of Independent States is a loose grouping of nine member States and two associate members. It was formed during the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The AIR proposal was taken up for discussion during an advisory committee meeting on external broadcast recently.

Mazumdar said these services will aid the government’s efforts to further accelerate engagement with global audience and assist diplomatic outreach.

Referring to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recent visit to India, he said the countries are expanding engagements in number of sectors, hence, the need for a Japanese AIR service.

He said Pakistan has increased its presence in African countries through its new radio services, and India cannot work in “silos”.

The ESD aims to keep the listeners in touch with the ethos of India, its point of view on various issues, highlight trade opportunities in the country, besides projecting it as an education, healthcare and tourist destination, he said.

“The foreign radio service also plays important role in public diplomacy, especially in the countries which have a large Indian diaspora.

“Indians today live in almost every country and are interested in knowing what the country of their birth holds for them,” he said.

The programme menu of the ESD comprises news bulletins, commentaries on current affairs and a review of the Indian press. It also includes informative talks, interviews, documentaries, features, Indian music of all genres and plays.

Mazumdar underlined the need for support from the Ministry of External Affairs in various areas, including funding, recruitment of foreign language staff and providing inputs and feedback from Indian Missions abroad.