How government reworded the order on Doordarshan DG

New Delhi,Amita Shah, Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr: When Veena Jain was appointed as Doordarshan’s director-general (News) who would report to the information and broadcasting ministry “for all purposes”, officials who drafted the order did not anticipate that it would bring them at loggerheads with Prasar Bharati chairperson A Surya Prakash.

A week later, the information and broadcasting ministry has reworded its order to say that Jain would report to Prasar Bharati for “all operational purposes and to the ministry as OSD”. Jain was given charge of handling new media wing and social media cell.

What raised Prakash’s hackles was the tone and tenor of the earlier order and that he was kept in the dark about the appointment, which went against the letter and spirit of the Act, sources in Prasar Bharati said. The order had raised question marks on the Prasar Bharati’s autonomy.

The new single paragraph order, issued on Thursday, comes within three days of Prakash meeting information and broadcasting minister Arun Jaitley, ending what seemed to have become a Prasar Bharati versus bureaucracy strife.

“I met the minister on Monday. He had agreed that whatever has to be done should be within the purview of the Prasar Bharati Act. I am happy that Mr Arun Jaitley has intervened to resolve the issue. There is no conflict between Prasar Bharati and I&B,” Prakash told dna.

Sources said the Prasar Bharati and the ministry conceded that the wording of the earlier order was the result of “irresponsible drafting” by ministry officials and nothing more than that. Jain was due for promotion and as she was holding the rank of the additional director-general and her promotion could only be to that of the director-general.

Former information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar and the Prasar Bharati chairperson had zeroed in on Akshay Rawat, who was working as the additional director general in DD and who was seen as “professionally competent” to handle news. He was seen as someone who was fit to head DD as the attempt was to improve professional standards of the public broadcaster, which was being dubbed as the official mouthpiece.

Prakash, who has been a journalist for four decades, understood the complexity of the Prasar Bharati’s status. It is an institution which has come into existence through an Act of Parliament, but it is the I&B ministry which is answerable to Parliament with all matters regarding Prasar Bharati.

Speaking on the occasion of the launch of Kisan channel of DD on May 30, Prakash pointed out in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jaitley that the relationship between the corporation and the ministry was a tight-rope walk. He also thanked Jaitley “for unobtrusively steering the relationship along the path that is mandated by Parliament.”

He had also said that as long as public funds come into the coffers of Prasar Bharati, the I and B ministry will be answerable to Parliament on what goes on in the corporation.