Beyond the News - FACT Analysis

All India Radio started broadcasting to Pakistan on 103.6 MHz in FM band

Harjap Singh Aujla
  When you serve a bitter pill to anyone, the taker will not like the taste and refuse to swallow it. But if you coat it with sugar, there is a lot more chance of its acceptance on the receiving end. Radio Pakistan Lahore has been serving sugar-coated bitter pills to the listeners in East Punjab since 1947. From 1948 to 1953, India has been paying back to Pakistan in the same coin through its Amritsar located medium-wave transmitter broadcasting on 230.8 meters in the medium-wave band. In 1953, India shut its shop in Amritsar for 65 years. On the 24th of  September 2018, All India Radio started broadcasting to Pakistan on 103.6 MHz in FM band. Radio Pakistan Lahore up to 1960 has been directing its bitter political propaganda towards Amritsar by sugar-coating it with the choicest mix of Indian and Pakistani film and non-film music. If they played one Noorjehan song, the next one will be a melody in the voice of Lata Mangeshkar. A Saleem Raza or an Inayat Hussain Bhatti masterpiece will be followed by a sweety in the voice of Talat Mahmood. In between their finest sweet music, the news and commentaries were on offer. If Pakistan played Ghazals in the voices of Barqat Ali Khan, Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali, Mallika Pukhraj or Zahida Praven, the Indian numbers will be in the voices Kundan Lal Saigal, Talat Mahmood, Kamla Jharia and Talat Mahmood. If they played Punjabi film songs in the voices of Noorjehan, Munawwar Sultana and Zubaida Khanum, those were followed by Indian Punjabi songs by Shamshad Begum and Lata Mangeshkar. From 1960, the Indian music content was phased out, but the quality of Pakistani music was kept very high. India’s Urdu Service of All India Radio has been extremely popular in Pakistan’s Lahore and Karachi regions ever since its inception during the 1960s. After a long time on shortwave and medium-wave, it made its debut on FM mode too. Since September of 2018, India has been broadcasting to the Lahore region of Pakistan on FM from Amritsar, but the immensely popular Urdu Service of All India Radio was abruptly discontinued after the outbreak of Corona pandemic in March of 2020. On persistent demand from the listeners in Pakistan and India, it has been revived now. Urdu is native to India, it was evolved in the cities of Delhi, Lucknow, Allahabad and Agra during the days of Mughal Empire. It is primarily a mixture of Persian, Pushto, Dari, Hindi and Punjabi with some vocabulary picked up from Arabic. It was the court language of the Mughal Empire and the lingua franca of the big cities in Northern India. Mirza Assadullah Khan Ghalib has been the most famous Urdu poet, Dr. Mohammad Iqbal was its most famous and respected poet of the 20th Century. Faiz Ahmed Faiz was another great poet of the 20th Century. Pakistan adopted Urdu as the national language, although it was the spoken language of the refugees coming primarily from the United Provinces, Central Provinces, Bihar, Rajputana, and Hyderabad Deccan in India. The urban elite in Pakistan loves it. The Urdu Service of All India Radio originating from the New Delhi Studios of All India Radio has made its re-entry in East Punjab via All India Radio’s Amritsar FM radio station on 103.6 MHz. After a yearlong Covid-19 impacted interruption, it has re-commenced in two segments from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and after a two-hour break, from 3:00 pm to the signing off at 5:00 with effect from Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021. Due to serious time constraints on the over-congested Amritsar transmitter, as of this moment, it will not carry the nightly service starting from 9:15 pm and signing off at 1:00 am. But if a second FM transmitter is made available to Amritsar this congestion will end. For the Pakistani audiences, we have to offer what they like in music Culture, especially Punjabi is continuously evolving in India. Its reason is that the Punjabis displaced from Pakistan in 1947 was not settled in Punjab only. They were scattered all over Northern India, Calcutta and Bombay. Where ever they were settled, they adapted themselves to the dominant local culture but in Pakistan, things were different there was plenty of property left behind by the fleeing mostly well-to-do Hindus and Sikhs. Therefore settlement of Muslim refugees from East Punjab was no problem most of the resettled Muslims maintained their culture and rather froze their culture in time. They still like the Indian film music of the 1950s and the Urdu Ghazals of the 1940s and 1950s. We have to serve them that kind of music, which they like to hear. In order to serve them our news and commentaries, which are bitter pills, we must sugar coat with the sweetest music. They still love the music of K.L. Saigal, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Begum Akhtar, Kamla Jharia, Talat Mahmood, Mohammad Rafi, Manna Dey, Mukesh, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosale, Suraiya, Shamshad Begum, Surinder Kaur, Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali, Showqat Ali, Parvez Mehdi,  Iqbal Bano, Noorjehan and the other all-time greats welcome back Urdu Service in Punjab.
(The author is Senior Advisor with The Fact News)

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