National broadcaster All India Radio (AIR) is likely to launch a new language service — Dzongkha — for Bhutan, a move seen to strengthen ties with the neighbouring country. Dzongkha will take the total foreign language offering of AIR’s External Services Division (ESD) to 16 which includes French, Chinese, Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, English, Pashto, Nepali, Tibetan, Urdu and Baluchi.
It will also broadcast programmes for Indian diaspora in 12 languages, including Gujarati, Malayalam, Punjabi, Hindi, Tamil, Bangla, Telugu and Kannada. “The plan has been approved for Dzongkha service. It will be launched soon. It is part of soft diplomacy,” an official source said.
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Bhutan, the first foreign country which Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited after assuming office in 2014, shares cordial relations with India and is a model for good neighbourly relations, he added. Initially, the ESD will broadcast cultural programmes in Dzongkha language.
India and Bhutan have joint ventures in various areas, including hydro-electric power generation, education, trade, health and culture. A one hour daily Dzongkha language service is proposed between 6.00 am and 7.00 am IST.
Either a transmitter in Kurseong, a hill station some 32 kms from Darjeeling in West Bengal, or in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, will be used to broadcast the new service. The Ministry of External Affairs will help in hiring language professionals from Bhutan to run this service.