Kolkata, India state radio broadcaster’s Akashvani Maitree Channel, a special Bengali channel targeted at the Bengali-speaking audience of India, Bangladesh and in other countries, was launched on Tuesday by President Pranab Mukherjee.
Terming the coming into being of the channel as a historic occasion, Mukherjee said a new chapter is being added in the annals of India-Bangladesh relations.
“The channel and its multimedia website is a unique venture and initiative of All India Radio, not only for the Bengalis in West Bengal, Bangladesh and the adjoining areas but the entire Bengali speaking diaspora living in different countries,” he said in his address at the function held at Raj Bhavan.
The president said India and Bangladesh are not just neighbours, but the two nations are bound by an umbilical connection of ethnicity and kinship.
“India always attaches highest importance to bilateral relation with Bangladesh because of our shared history, heritage, culture, language, physical proximity and also the role which the two nations can play together for the development of entire subcontinent and beyond.
“Akashvani Maitree Channel can play a significant role in promoting and preserving the composite cultural Bengali heritage,” he said.
Mukherjee pointed out the concept of the channel was born out of a decision taken during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh in a bid to “further strengthen the existing close cultural, economic, political and emotional bonding between the two neighbour and also to provide better people to people contact”.
Refering to the Bangladesh liberation movement, the president said Akashvani has a special place in the hearts of millions of people of the neighbouring country since 1971. He said then the precursor to Akashvani Maitree, a special service in Bangla was launched in the wake of the Bangladesh liberation movement during which the channel had played a historic role.
Mukherjee also said Akashvani Maitree can be an important channel of communication between India and Bangladesh.
“This is an equally significant moment for the entire Bengali-speaking population world-wide, as now, a platform has been created for integration and promotion of composite Bengali culture where the best from both West Bengal and Bangladesh will be showcased and centuries old Bengali tradition and heritage shall be preserved,” he added.