All India Radio entered the realm of external broadcasting shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War on 1st October, 1939 when it started a service in Pushtu for listeners across the country’s then North West Frontier. The service was designated to counter radio propaganda from Germany, directed at Afghanistan, Iran and Arab countries. After the end of the War, the equipment was presented to AIR, which took over active control. The need of continuing certain services was assessed and the number of services was rearranged.
With the dawn of Independence, the External Services of All India Radio assumed greater importance and significance as a medium for the expression of India’s attitude to world events and problems. As a result, the single organization – the Central News Organization, which was dealing primarily with News and also with the External Services, was split in 1948 into two, the News Services Division and the External Services Division. All activities connected with the broadcast of news were taken over by the News Services Division while all programmes in Indian and foreign languages directed at listeners abroad became the responsibility of the External Services Division.
Today, the External Services Division (ESD) of All India Radio broadcasts daily in 57 transmissions with almost 72 hours covering over 108 countries in 27 languages, out of which 15 are foreign and 12 Indian. The foreign languages are Arabic, Baluchi, Burmese, Chinese, Dari, French, Indonesian, Persian, Pushtu, Russian, Sinhala, Swahili, Thai, Tibetan and English (General Overseas Service).
The Indian languages are Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Nepali, Punjabi, Saraiki, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
ESD has five major services namely, Urdu (non-stop 24 hours), GOS/English (8 hours 15 minutes), Hindi (5 hours 15 minutes), Bengali (6 hours 30 minutes), and Tamil (7 hours 15 minutes).
External Services Division projects to the world India’s viewpoint, progress and policies along with its art and culture. With the changing scenario, its role has been further expanded due to an increasing number of Indian Diaspora, both PIOs and NRIs as well as foreigners interested in knowing India. ESD endeavors to provide them with information, education and entertainment with programmes on India’s varied and multifaceted society.
ESD prioritizes its broadcasts on the following factors:
1. Political Relations
2. Economic Compulsions, i.e. India’s trade with other countries
3. Social Relations: Broadcasts for NRIs and PIOs living in other countries.
The programmes project,
- Emerging India abroad.
- The country’s democratic institutions and policies.
- Indian art and culture.
- India’s point of view on major issues.
- A link with the Indian Diaspora.
Presently ESD is broadcasting to:
1. West, North, East and Southeast Asia.
2. North, West and East Africa.
3. Australia and New Zealand.
4. United Kingdom and some other European countries.
5. Indian Sub-continent.
Since 25th October, 1984, a special weekly capsule is being prepared and despatched for ethnic Indians in USA, Canada and U K through the Ministry of External Affairs.
External Services Division:
Head of Office: Director, External Services Division/Additional Director General
Coverage Area: 100 countries (approximately)
Headquarters: New Broadcasting House, All India Radio, Parliament Street,
New Delhi: 110001
Tele/Fax No. : 91-011-23421220