The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has announced that All India Radio (AIR) will now be known as Akashvani, as per a provision of the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990.
In a satellite message, the policy division of the office of the Director General, Akashvani, informed all centres across the country about the change. The next radio bulletin in English on the government-run service will begin with the announcement, “This is Akashvani,” instead of the current announcement, “This is All India Radio.”
The new announcement format will also be used in other tongues or dialects. The word “Akashvani” was first used by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1939 as a poetic translation of All India Radio. According to The Wire, the new decision has led to mixed reactions, with former I&B minister Manish Tiwari calling it a “silly, inane branding exercise which is completely redundant.”
As per the Prasar Bharati Act, the term "Akashvani" denotes the establishments, offices, and stations that were formerly under the control of the Director General of All India Radio belonging to the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, as of the appointed day.
After 26 years, the ministry has finally decided to put this clause into effect. However, the Act is not clear on what happens to offices set up post-November 15, 1997, which is the appointed day. The popular radio station Vividh Bharati, which has an English name for all official communications and is classified as a "commercial broadcasting service" in the Union budget, has been the subject of speculation as to what may happen to it as a result. TMC MP and former I&B secretary Jawahar Sircar has asked for the budget head for Vividh Bharati to be changed first if the aim is to do away with colonial legacies.
The change to Akashvani has sparked a debate on the necessity of the rebranding exercise. Some have argued that AIR has a brand value and that changing the name is unnecessary. However, others feel that Akashvani is more reflective of India’s cultural heritage and that the change is a step in the right direction. Regardless, the change is now in effect, and the next time you tune in to AIR, you will hear the announcement, “This is Akashvani.”