Massive vacancies in AIR & DD

:: M.Y.Siddiqui ::

Out of a combined sanctioned strength of 45,791 strong manpower in AIR and DD, there are 21,314 vacancies, an alarming situation. AIR has total sanctioned staff strength of 26,129, out of which 13,395 posts are vacant. So AIR is working at less than half the full strength. This excludes several regional language news units and several posts in programme, engineering, and administration having been already downsized earlier. Similarly in DD, out of a sanctioned total staff of 19,662, there are 7,919 vacancies, mostly in programme, administration, and engineering. However, contractual employees from Sangh Pariwar stocks currently man massive vacancies in news wings of AIR and DD.

Public broadcasters (Prasar Bharati) comprising All India Radio (AIR) and Door Darshan (DD) under the Prasar Bharati Act, 1990 (Broadcasting Corporation of India) are together facing acute human resource (manpower) crunch as never before. The result is its inability to compete with private sector electronic media in all aspects of news broadcast, information, education and entertainment so much so that both the public entities designed to empower the people of India on all round development of the nation are reduced to the Goebbelsian instrument of propaganda for the one-man NDA Union Government. Unlike earlier regimes at the Centre, when the public broadcasters apart from getting loin’s share of news and propaganda favourable to the government other national, international and regional news used to be there, presently there is nothing like that; it is one man that matters the most and others are just effaced.

Out of a combined sanctioned strength of 45,791 strong manpower in AIR and DD, there are 21,314 vacancies, an alarming situation. AIR has total sanctioned staff strength of 26,129, out of which 13,395 posts are vacant. So AIR is working at less than half the full strength. This excludes several regional language news units and several posts in programme, engineering, and administration having been already downsized earlier. Similarly in DD, out of a sanctioned total staff of 19,662, there are 7,919 vacancies, mostly in programme, administration, and engineering. However, contractual employees from Sangh Pariwar stocks currently man massive vacancies in news wings of AIR and DD. However, personnel from dwindling Indian Information Service (IIS) currently man supervisory level posts in news wings. The current scenario is viewed as a fall out of the elected government at the Centre since 2014, bestowed democratically by the people, to undermine the rule of law, curtailed citizens’ rights and hollow out public institutions in the fast growing illiberal democracy in the country reduced as election-centric only. For all practical purposes, this government is authoritarian and arbitrary.

A source in the Prasar Bharati, however, justified large unfilled vacancies on the ground that ongoing manpower audit has identified several areas with a mismatch between the skills and resources required and the current manpower in AIR and DD. Mismatch is in sales, marketing, digital/IT, creative and content strategy, corporate strategy and planning segments, revealed the source. The competent source also said that vacancies in AIR and DD are to be filled under Section 9 of the Prasar Bharati Act, for which a Recruitment Board has been set up in terms of the Recruitment Board Rules, 2020 notified by the government in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in February 2020. Action is afoot to fill massive vacancies by RSS affiliated personnel in different branches of PB outfit under a captive recruitment board, which through the Union Public Service Commission and Staff Selection Commission would not have been possible in view of the attendant fair-play and impartiality envisaged in the scheme of the Constitution of India.

Meanwhile, government is yet to implement Sam Pitroda Expert Committee Report on review of the institutional framework of Prasar Bharati, its relationship with the government and revitalizing the public broadcasters. Committee has recommended improvement of PB in 26 areas like governance, organization, funding, human resource, content, technology, archiving, social media, and global outreach. According to the official sources, recommendations have been examined, steps for implementation taken on recommendations accepted by the government. Reasons for undue delay in implementation of Sam Pitroda Committee Report are alluded to action by various Divisions in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, PB, Directorate General AIR, and Directorate General DD, which is time consuming process and still underway.

Earlier, AIR news bulletins, information, and entertainment set benchmark of standards of excellence for front-page settings of news in newspapers across the country. BBC often quoted AIR news for credible information, which is no longer the case. Devaluation of standards is due to majority of news persons being contractual employees from Sangh Pariwar stock, lacking in right motivation and competence to deliver. Similar situation prevails in other wings as well. As for AIR’s cousin DD, less said the better. Herein, only emphasis is on one-man government; other matters of importance in all its segments are relegated with the consequences it is unable to compete in the globalized world in all segments of professionally standard and authentic broadcasting quality inputs!

About the Author

M Y Siddiqui

Mr M Y Siddiqui is the former Director (PR&S) at Government of India, as Spokesman of various Ministries (New Delhi). After his retirement he is now a well known columnist and critic. He writes on government plans & implementation and issues of deprived segments of India.

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