Ground Report | New Delhi: Saeeda Bano India’s first newsreader; Saeeda Bano was India’s first newsreader. She read news in Urdu on All India Radio and started working on the pinnacle of independence on 13 August 1947. Bano was born in Bhopal, moved to Lucknow, and then to Delhi, where she worked for All India Radio.
Saeeda Bano India’s first newsreader
She moved out of the orthodox Lucknawi society and lived life on her own terms. She was a divorcee, a single mother, a working woman in the 1940s – an inspiration to the women of a newly independent India. Bano retired as a newsreader in 1965 and was appointed as the producer of AIR’s Urdu service. She held this role until she retired from radio in the 1970s. She died in 2001.
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Bano told her incredible story in her memoir ‘Dagar Se Hat Kar’ (Off the Beaten Track – The Unconventional Story of My Life) published in Urdu in 1994 and later translated into English by her granddaughter. After a romance of over two decades, the couple finally tied the knot in the 1970s.
Working woman of independent India
A pioneer of Urdu broadcasting, Bano left her husband, whom she had married at the age of 17, and made her place as a working woman in newly independent India. Growing up in Bhopal, Bano was married to Abbas Raza, a judge from Lucknow, while she was still a teenager. However, the marriage did not take place and Saeeda Bano moved to Delhi after securing a job at All India Radio as an Urdu newsreader.
She lived her life, ate her food, drove (a driver as long as she could), lived alone, entertained like a queen: Shahana Raza on her grandmother Saeeda Bano.”