“Democratisation of Airwaves” International Conference on Hundred Years of Radio Broadcasting in South Asia

An international web symposium on hundred years of radio broadcasting in South Asia on the theme “democratisation of airwaves” was organized recently by  Dr. Anamika Ray Memorial Trust, Guwahati. In four plenary sessions, 30 speakers participated from the region and more than 450 participants registered from about 10 countries.

At the beginning, the Chairperson of the Trust, Rajat Baran Mahanta welcomed all the speakers and participants to the conference, which was formally inaugurated by Dr. D. K. Renuka Ekanayake, Director of the SAARC Cultural Centre, Colombo and a senior officer of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service with a long-standing experience in the Public Service. During her inaugural address, she mentioned how radio has been one of the most important media for disseminating, preserving and popularizing cultures of the South Asian region for the last 100 years. She also added that this joyous moment is to celebrate the radio for the glorious hundred years of service to humankind.

The history of radio in South Asia was the focusof the first plenary session, which was chaired by Prof. K V Nagaraj, the former pro-vice chancellor of Assam University and moderated by Prof. Aparna Sharma of the University of California Los Angeles.  In June 1923 the Radio Club of Bombay made the first ever broadcast not only in India but in the entire South Asian region. This was followed by the setting up of the Calcutta Radio Club five months later. The Indian Broadcasting Company (IBC) came into being on July 23, 1927, only to face liquidation in less than three years.Revisiting the glorious past of radio, five speakers namely former Vice President of Discovery Channel (SA) Prof. Ashok Ogra, the Vice Chancellor of MCNUJC, Bhopal and former Director General IIMC, New Delhi Prof. K. G. Suresh, former Head, NCSTC; CSIR-NISCAIR, Department of Science and Technology and former Adl. Director General of Prasar Bharati Prof. Manoj K. Patairiya, former Director, CEMCA, Doordarshan, AIR and founder of Gyan Vaani, Gyan Darshan and Anna CRS Dr. R. Sreedher and Professor of Daffodil University, Dhaka and former Pro-VC Adamas University Prof. Ujjwal Chowdhury.

The second plenary session was on ‘Radio in South Asia: A Social History of the Golden Age’, which was chaired by an Emeritus Professor ofthe University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka Prof. PadmasiriWanigasundera and moderated by a Fulbright Scholar at Southern Illinois University Pervez Khan. The case studies were presented from different countries by Masood Ul Hassan Akhtar on Pakistan, Snehashish Sur on India, Prof. Mohammad Sahid Ullah on Bangladesh, Suman Basnet on Nepal and South Asian region.

The third panel was chaired by Prof Mrinal Chatterjee of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication and moderated by Dr Mausumi Bhattacharyya of Visva Bharati. On the topic of radio in the digital and new media, five speakers presented their views including Prof. Aatish Parashar of Central University of South Bihar, Dr. Durgesh Tripathi of Indraprastha University, Prof. Padma Rani of Manipal Institute of Communication, Prof. Shahid Rasool of the Central University of Kashmir and Dr. S. Arulchelvan of Anna University, Chennai.

The last session was chaired by Prof Sanjeev Bhanawat, a retired professor of the University of Rajasthan and moderated by Prof. Sapna M S of the University of Mysore. Six speakers spoke on the future of radio in South Asia by Prof. Aman Vats of Amity School of Film and Drama, Prof. Ambrish Saxena of DME Media School, Prof. Dev Vrat Singh of the Central University of Jharkhand, Prof. Sunder Rajdeep of the University of Mumbai, Dr. Sweta Singh of Indraprastha University and Dr. Uma Shankar Pandey of the University of Calcutta.

In the year 2020, Dr Anamika Ray Memorial Trust organised a mega-conference online on the hundred years of media education in South Asia. The trust is a Guwahati-based NITI Aayog registered educational and research non-profit organization established in 2015 to work on media education and the rights of the patients.