Stating that BBC Hindi radio was a source of "accurate, impartial
and independent news" for 10 million listeners in India, a group
of intellectuals, artists and journalists has asked the British
government to rethink its decision to severely cut funding for the
BBC World Service to enable continued transmissions on shortwave
In a statement titled ‘Don't silence BBC Hindi radio', the
signatories, including broadcaster and author Mark Tully, writer
Vikram Seth, Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy, music maestro
Amjad Ali Khan and historian Ramchandra Guha, said they were
"astonished at the news that the BBC management has decided to
stop transmission of BBC Hindi radio on short wave from 1 April,
The group will submit a memorandum on the issue to the British
high commission here Thursday.
"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, the communal riots
after the demolition of the Ayodhya mosque in 1992," the statement
"Today India is facing other serious problems: The ongoing
conflicts in Kashmir, in the Northeast and in vast areas in
central and eastern India, where Maoist militants are fighting the
state," it added.
According to the statement, 10 million listeners, most of them in
rural and often very poor areas, "need BBC Hindi radio and the
accurate, impartial and independent news it provides".
BBC Hindi transmissions, it pointed out, were accessible in rural
and remote areas and, as short wave receivers can be battery
operated, available in places without electricity or during power
The radio service was an essential source of learning for school
children and college students in rural India preparing for
It "cannot be silenced in times when democracy is under threat",
the release added.
"We strongly urge the UK government to rethink its decision to
severely cut the funding for the BBC World Service to enable the
continued transmissions of BBC Hindi on short wave radio," the
Other signatories to the statement included Delhi-based British
authors Gillian Wright and William Dalrymple, environmentalist
Sunita Narain, columnists Kuldip Nayyar and Inder Malhotra, India
Today editorial director M.J. Akbar, journalist Sam Miller,
activist Swami Agnivesh, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and India's first
woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi.