The history of Radio in Jammu and Kashmir seeps in the hues of politics of the state which is now a Union Territory since August 5, 2019. For strange reasons, there are no strong shreds of evidence of the existence of Radio in Jammu and Kashmir before 1947. It was only during the war of 1947 that the first radio station was established in Jammu to counter Pakistani propaganda.
The State Radio in Jammu and Kashmir has for seven decades been known as ‘Radio Kashmir’ and further ‘Radio Kashmir, Srinagar’ and ‘Radio Kashmir, Jammu’. This nomenclature was, however, changed to All India Radio (AIR) on the eve of withdrawal of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019. Instead of two channels Radio Kashmir Jammu and radio Kashmir Srinagar, now there are three channels: AIR Jammu, AIR Srinagar, AIR Leh. Radio Kashmir Jammu used to broadcast in Dogri, Urdu & Hindi and Radio Kashmir Srinagar in Kashmiri, Urdu & Hindi.
Radio Kashmir was established on July 1, 1948, when Sheikh Abdullah, then the Prime Minister of Kashmir, inaugurated the Radio Kashmir Srinagar station near the Tourist Reception Centre in Srinagar. J.N. Zutshi was the first Director-General of Radio Kashmir. Radio Kashmir Srinagar became most popular when Pushkar Bhan’s Zoon Dab was aired for more than nineteen years from the Radio Kashmir station. But a Radio station in Jammu had come up months before that.
The Radio station in Jammu was established by BP Sharma during the partition of the country and to counter the propaganda of Pakistan that had sent raiders to capture entire Jammu and Kashmir. Sharma set up the emergency Radio station in a classroom of the Ranbir School on 1 December 1947 from where programmes were relayed to counter the claim of Pakistani troops and raiders of having penetrated deep into J&K.
Later, he shifted the Radio station to its present location near the Raj Bhavan. The Radio station was degraded to the level of being headed by an officer of the rank of assistant station director when Sharma was transferred to Kolkata, Bhopal and other places.
However, during the 1965 India—Pakistan war, Indira Gandhi, who was Information & Broadcasting Minister in the cabinet of Lal Bahadur Shastri, asked Sharma to return to J&K and take charge of the radio station at Jammu to counter Pakistani propaganda. She immediately upgraded the radio station to accommodate Sharma as its director.
Gandhi was aware of Sharma’s ability to nail the false propaganda of Pakistan and handpicked him to return to Jammu. The morale-boosting programmes relayed during the war and after were appreciated countrywide.
The World Radio Day
This proclamation was done following a request from the Spanish Radio Academy on 20 September 2010, Spain proposed that the UNESCO Executive Board include an agenda item on the proclamation of a World Radio Day. UNESCO carried out a wide consultation in 2011 with diverse stakeholders, such as broadcasting associations, UN agencies, funds and programmes, relevant NGOs, foundations and bilateral development agencies, as well as UNESCO Permanent Delegations and National Commissions for UNESCO. Among the answers, 91% were in favour of the project, including official support from the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB), the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the International Association of Broadcasting (IAB), the North American Broadcasters Association (NABA), the Organización de Telecomunicaciones Ibeoramericanas (OTI), BBC, URTI, Vatican Radio, etc.
The Board recommended to the UNESCO 36th session of the General Conference that it proclaim a World Radio Day at its 36th session and that this day be celebrated by UNESCO on 13 February, the anniversary of the day that the United Nations established the United Nations Radio in 1946. In December 2012, The General Assembly of the UN-endorsed the proclamation of World Radio Day, which thereby became a day to be celebrated by all UN agencies.