‘Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.’
The mushrooming of organisations is atop. Grassroot workers and common Kashmiri Pandits want an institution of the community. There are a few but there is no community radio. These are the questions? If we can incur huge amounts on hawans why not establish a community radio? Time passes. This demand is given a deaf ear to. Darkness waits for some light. A man proves face in the crowd. He stands up. Takes the responsibility on his shoulders and shows the way proving all the critics and misanthropes wrong. It is 5th of December 2011 when the towers of Radio Sharda go air. We hear booziv ta khosh rooziv. The slogan shows the motive of the man behind. Radio Sharda becomes the household name of Kashmiri Pandits. It stretches across the length and breadth of the country and abroad among Kashmiri Pandits spread across the world after the mass exodus of 1990.
Having one-year diploma in journalism at his back, he is also a graduate in Agriculture Sciences and Technology besides being postgraduate in Social Work. He is born in 1960 in Hangalgund. He is the son of Arjan Nath Hangloo and Shrimati Mohini Hangloo. He establishes Pir Panchal, an NGO, in 1995, which is a registered NGO. Pir Panchal works in the field of Culture, Education, Social Works, Sports, and Environmental spheres. On December 24, 1989, he becomes a refugee in his own country.
He contributes to his fullest satisfaction even in the Gheeta Bhawan in the preliminary phase of exile. He also contributes to the best of his ability as a first youth president of Kashmiri Pandit Sabha, Ambphalla. In 2007, he goes to Britain as a cultural activist. He finds there that the government of UK gives licences for opening of community radios. That inspires him. Back home, he reads in newspapers that India is also plying on the same track and is giving permission to NGOs of repute to go for community radio stations.
Whenever exile enters the pages of history, the name of the man behind Radio Sharda would be written in bold letters. He does not need certificates of appreciation though he has many prestigious awards. He has become himself a source of inspiration for many.
Kashmiri Pandits are in the thirty-first year of exile. They are still unable to go home. Searching one’s roots is a natural phenomenon. Leaders show them different directions. Each leader gives his own theory and philosophy. But Radio Sharda helps the community in exile to get connected to the lost valley through its music, art and the Kashmiri language. Radio Sharda unites Kashmiri Pandit community on various iconic socio-religious observances like Shivratri. Whenever there is uncertainty on any iconic traditional observances, the director of Radio Sharda is asked when he is going to observe it on Radio Sharda.
Kashmiri Pandit Youth are busy in following their professional pursuits outside the valley and abroad. Radio Sharda facilitates them to be aware about the Kashmir ethos. It certainly acts as an antidote to the depressive mindset. It works as a medicine for the hurt emotions and sentiments of the people who have lived most of the years in the valley of Kashmir.
Music is a universal language. The borders cannot divide it. Sharda Radio’s first and foremost success is that it plays Kashmiri music. The devotional songs played in the mornings are an attraction for most of the Pandits especially Kashmiri Pandit womenfolk. Even critics of Radio Sharda play Radio Sharda in their cars while driving.
The ‘culture’ does not die down with the moving of the arms of the clock. When everything is moving ahead, culture cannot be stagnant. Music, art, literature, painting, dress, language, traditions and rituals are the indispensable constituents of culture. Rituals and traditions form small constituents of culture. Some Pandits project these small constituents as ‘culture as a whole’. We are passing through that period where there is dire need of reform and simplicity. Unfortunately, some persons are making the lives complex and problematic by misusing the word ‘culture’. There are many evils taking place in the community. Radio Sharda has already taken the lead in highlighting these. Although Radio Sharda is on way to preserve the cultural richness but it has the responsibility to enlighten the community and not fall in the trap of regression. Radio Sharda’s ‘thaz setha parvaaz saen’ has its limitations but its flight is almost on the positive and higher levels.
Radio Sharda’s ‘kamar gond asi ta kor parvaaz boozev’ reflects the determination of the man working for the preservation of the Kashmiri language and other issues of the community. The government and establishments are keen to protect and save the ‘hangul. But another type of ‘hangul’ (the Kashmiri Pandit) also attracts attention. Nevertheless, Government is silently watching. Thanks to Radio Sharda for trying, a lot, to protect and preserve it through its programmes and thus becoming the identity and face of Kashmiri Pandits in exile.
Programmes like safar zindagi heund, braandh kaen, aalov, reshwar, kathan kathan manz, manasbal, naw parwaz, saaz ta aawaz, akh mulaaqaat, naad, raam raam badraen boone, kids corner, bhaarat darshan, tohi chha pattah, sangarmaal etc cover males, females, children, young, old, history, cultural richness, Punjabi, Dogri, exile, past, future, present, health, domestic setup, music etc. The Corona period especially the lockdown period is a test for Radio Sharda but it gets flying colours.
aash pagahatch, is a weekly programme for the youth. pendd ta puran roots us to every nook and corner of Kashmir, the lost paradise for us. Programme waangajwor is highlighting the common problems of the community. Interviews are also broadcast. Medical advice is also given. Reputed doctor and the pride of the community, Dr. K L Chowdury enormously contributes on health. He teaches like a teacher.
Though some of the devotional songs played in the mornings are not up to the standard, nevertheless, such type of criticism stands nil as against the positive vibes. I ask this man that some allege that Radio Sharda being community Radio has no compass for the participation of Muslims.
‘Radio Sharda is a community FM Radio. Nevertheless, please tell me how you isolate the Kashmiri music. We have a big treasure of music. How can music and songs of only Kashmiri Pandits be played? ‘ he asks.
Radio Sharda has given space to many artiste, singers, lyricists, musicians, fictionists, experts, and of course largely to the leela-poets. The appreciations for Radio Sharda and the man behind it are regularly piling up but I would like to quote only one that proves how much blessings and accolades the institution and the man earn:
One day I go to nonagenarian Shri Arjan Nath Ji, popularly known as Aja Ji. He is unable to stand up. Aging and exile make him bedridden. I ask him:
‘Aja Ji, do you have so much of strength to listen to Radio Sharda?’
‘Radio Sharda gives me feel that I am in Kashmir. It gives me strength. It gives me energy. It helps me spend my time very well. In the last phase of life and that too in exile what else a man needs,’ he replies.
What more success can we expect from Radio Sharda? Radio Sharda and the man behind are indispensable. They are two-in-none. And the man is none other than Shri Ramesh Hangloo. My salutes to this helpful and down-to-earth man.
‘Storms make oaks take deeper roots.’