New Delhi, Sep 30 (PTI) On October 1, 1939, the All India Radio made its first broadcast for foreign listeners — a Pashto service started by the then British rulers to counter the Nazi Germany propaganda during World War II. Also Read - India to be Under Lockdown For 21 Days, Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Spike to 536

The national radio broadcaster has decided that the 80th anniversary of the historic event will be marked by year-long celebrations beginning this week right up till October 1 next year. Also Read - COVID-19 LIVE: Next 3-4 Weeks Are Crucial, PM Modi Tells State CMs | Top Developments

The external services of the All India Radio (AIR), though began with the aim of serving the propaganda of the British colonialists, have now transformed into the “voice of India” at the world stage, officials said. Also Read - India vs South Africa 1st ODI, Highlights: Match Abandoned Without Toss in Dharamsala Due to Rain

“Last year, the decision was taken that October 1 will be observed as External Broadcasting Day and Monday will be the first such occasion. All Indian missions abroad will observe the External Broadcasting Day,” Amlanjyoti Mazumdar, Head External Services Division, AIR, told PTI.

“The missions are going to circulate the material that we have sent them to sensitise the listeners in their respective countries about AIR’s external services,” he said.

To mark the 80th anniversary of the AIR’s first external broadcast next year, starting with tomorrow’s cultural programme at Siri Fort, events have been planned all the year round, Mazumdar said.

“We are trying to collaborate with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations to organise cultural events in select countries. External broadcast will be popularised through these events,” he said.

The AIR’s External Services Division broadcasts programmes that have a reach of over 150 countries through short and medium wave.

As one of the oldest international broadcasting services that began in 1939, it offers news bulletins and other programmes in 28 languages. Fourteen out of the 28 language services are for the immediate neighbourhood.

The foreign language services include Arabic, Baluchi, Burmese, Chinese, Dari, French, Indonesian, Persian, and Baloch, while plans are underway to start services in Japanese and Bhutanese.

“We are also thinking in terms of expanding — most of the international broadcasters are hiring local FM transmitters to enrich their reception in various countries. We are also thinking about hiring transmitters in select countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh which we think are important from the point of view of foreign policy,” he said.

The events in India to mark the 80th anniversary of the first external broadcast include webinars and seminars where stalwarts of international broadcast will talk about ways to strengthen the external services, Mazumdar said.

“This is one service where we are trying to showcase the best of India. We are also trying to put India’s point of view and right perspective in the face of a lot of misinformation which has been circulated by countries with which we have a worrisome relationship,” the senior AIR official said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.