New Delhi: Eminent writers, civil society
activists, journalists and other noted personalities on Wednesday
came together and asked the British government to re-think its
decision to cut down funding to the BBC which is resulting in
the closing down of its Hindi radio service.
The group will submit a statement to the British High
"We, the undersigned, are astonished at the news that the
BBC management has decided to stop transmission of BBC Hindi
radio on short wave from April one, 2011," the statement said.
It said for nearly seven decades BBC Hindi radio has been
a credible source of unbiased and accurate information,
especially in times of crisis: The 1971 war, the emergency in
1975 and the communal riots after the demolition of the
Ayodhya mosque in 1992.
Ten million listeners in India -- most of them in rural
and often very poor areas -- need BBC Hindi radio and the
accurate, impartial and independent news it provides, it said.
The statement further said that the BBC Hindi
transmissions are accessible in rural and remote areas, and
as short wave receivers can be battery operated, it is
available in places without electricity or during power cuts.
It is an essential source of learning for school children and
college students in rural India preparing for competitive
exams and that it cannot be silenced in times when democracy
is under threat.
"We strongly urge the UK Government to re-think its
decision to severely cut the funding for the BBC World Service
to enable the continued transmissions of BBC Hindi on short
wave radio," it said.
The list of people who have signed the petition
include broadcaster and author Sir Mark Tully, Gillian Wright,
Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy, authors Vikram Seth,
William Dalrymple, historian Ram Guha, journalist and
columnist Kuldip Nayyar, sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan,
journalist Inder Malhotra, Editorial Director of India Today M
J Akbar and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi.