AIR Leh celebrates its Golden Jubilee today. It was on this day in 1971, AIR Leh started its service. A two term Member of Parliament for Ladakh, Kushok Bakula Rinpoche was instrumental in establishment of AIR, Leh station in 1971. It was foresightedness and continuous persuasion of father of Modern Ladakh Kushak Bakula Rinpoche that helped landlocked Ladakh to connect with the rest of the world with radio services.
Vastly spread Ladakh is situated between two international borders, China on the east and Pakistan on the west. 50 years ago, Ladakh was through with the Chinese aggression in 1962 and was dealing with Pakistan in 1971. Both neighbours were active in propaganda on the borders to create confusion among the bordering populations. On the other hand, Ladakh lacks information and Communication networks in the region.
Kushak Bakula Rinpoche continuously pursued Radio Services to reach out Ladakhis with right information by the Indian Government. Kushak Bakula Rinpoche’s then Personal Assistant and presently Mangolia based Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace, Deputy Secretary General Mr. Sonam Wangchuk Shakspo remembers Rinpoche’s efforts in establishment of All India Radio Station in Leh.
Understanding the urgency and importance of establishing communication and information, the Government set up a Ladakhi unit in Delhi and sent 85 minutes Ladakhi language programmes daily by Air to Srinagar. Later, a similar setup was made in Radio Kashmir in Srinagar. Broadcasts were listened by Ladakhis through village level community radio set in loud speakers.
In a reply to a question (Unstarred Q.No. 9687) in Lok Sabha by Kushak Bakula Rinpoche, then Information Broadcasting Minister IK Gujral assured that setting up of Radio Station at Leh is in progress and programmes for listeners in Ladakh and neighbourhood will be increased considerably.
Finally, then J&K Planning and Cooperatives Minister Sonam Wangyal inaugurated AIR Leh station, on this day in 1971. Ever since, AIR Leh has become lifeline in the Ladakh region.