SHILLONG, Nov 5 – The setting up of the first radio station in the Northeast, immediately after Independence, had been possible only because a great personality had put his lucrative government job at stake and sought for his first love and devotion – music and humanism. It was Dr Bhupen Hazarika whose efforts had brought the radio station to NE in 1948.
Dr Hazarika was very fond of Shillong and used to come down here often. Post Independence, he organized a ‘Hills and Plains Week’ with artistes invited from all over the Northeast at Shillong. The venue was the lovely park at Barik Point, now called Hydari Park, named after Assam’s first Governor Sir Muhammad Saleh Akbar Hydari.
The then Governor Hydari was much impressed with the zeal of young Bhupen Hazarika and after the week-long festival of music and cultural show, he invited Dr Hazarika for dinner. In the course of the discussion, he came to know that not only was the young singer good at music, but he was also highly qualified, holding a masters degree in Political Science, and offered him a Government job.
“The Governor said: ‘Why don’t you take up a Government job?’ to which he (Dr Hazarika) promptly replied ‘Please give us a radio station for the region instead,’ ” Bolen Hazarika, brother of the singer, recalled the anecdote here at the Assam Club today.
The Governor was taken aback by the passion of the singer and in a way obliged. Soon, a Radio Station was set up with two centres, one at Guwahati and the other here at Shillong.
The first announcer of the Northeast service was the filmstar of yesteryear, Jnanada Kakati, who was present at the commemoration of first death anniversary of the singer today and was the first to light the lamp kept before the singer’s picture, wearing the quintessential smile, trademark cap and gamosa.
The gathering also formed a human chain and pledged to live by the ideals of the revolutionary singer and visionary. The gathering also rendered one of the most popular songs of the artiste, Manuhe Manuhor Babe.
There were several other dignitaries, some who knew the singer personally and shared anecdotes related to the singer’s love for music and all sections of the society.
“If there were any ‘isms’ he believed in…that was humanism,” an old gentleman said, paying tribute to the legend. Others echoed in similar lines. They said that music was the medium the great singer used to spread his message of universal brotherhood, which the younger generation must emulate to bring peace, love and friendship all around.
“From childhood, our parents – Nilkanta Hazarika and Shantipriya Hazarika – inculcated in us love and respect for every individual. So he (Dr Hazarika) was a kind and simple person from childhood and never differentiated between rich or poor, nor he had any other classification in his outlook. He looked at everyone as equal human beings,” Hazarika said.
Stating that for some people it may seem that the singer’s demise has left a vacuum, but for others his ideals is a constant companion.
“There are lots of youngsters who are following his music and ideals, so there are several Bhupen Hazarikas in our midst, just because they follow his ideals and approach towards life, which is Manuhe Manuhor Babe,” Bolen Hazarika said.