Thursday, May 15, 2014

Throwback Thursday -- Radio Receiver License

I've been going through boxes that had been packed up before seminary. I've literally not seen this stuff in five years. So much junk. One of the things that emerged today was a Broadcast Receiver License (in Hindi, it says simply, "Radio License"), that belonged at one point to my late father. Yes, this was an annual license fee paid to the Government of India in order to own a radio set, and to listen to government approved programming.

The initial date on it is December 24, 1965, and it was issued for a Murphy radio set in New Delhi. On May 1, 1967, it was transferred to Jambusar, in Gujarat, my dad's hometown, and the ownership was transferred to one of my father's sisters.

There is a record of the annual fifteen rupee license fee being paid at the post office until December, 1970.

The government issued special Broadcast Radio License Fee stamps just for this purpose!
There's some fascinating period advertising in the license booklet. While the booklet is largely bilingual (Hindi and English), the advertising is entirely in English, appealing to the tiny English-speaking elite which would, presumably, be able to afford both a radio set and the license fee.

(Union Carbide is, of course, now remembered for the disaster in Bhopal in 1984. Interestingly, the URL "" is owned by UC, and is a website presenting the company's side of the events!)

There's a fascinating "Radio Map of India" listing major radio towers across the country.

And here's the legalese at the back, listing  the license fees.

According to Wikipedia, license fees for privately owned radio and television sets ended in 1984. My father, ever the technology holdout, bought a black-and-white television set in 1980, soon after we moved back to Delhi from the U.S. In 1982, Doordarshan, the government-owned television channel (there was only one TV channel) started color transmission. I recall the excitement when Satyajit Ray's classic Shatranj Ke Khilari aired in color. Except we watched it at home on our newly acquired b/w set!

I have no idea why I have this radio license booklet. I'm guessing it intrigued me as we were going through his papers after his death. This is just the kind of thing he would have preserved for all these years. I must have brought it with me to the U.S. as well! I'm very glad I did. 

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