Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar feels he would have failed in his duties had he not talked about the lack of autonomy following the row over DD’s Narendra Modi interview. In this Idea Exchange moderated by Senior Editor Archna Shukla, Sircar notes that he was brought in to clean up the body
Archna Shukla: Jawhar Sircar is the first Prasar Bharati CEO to take on the government. Of course, autonomy is something that everybody has been talking about for the longest time, but nobody spoke about it so openly from within the Prasar Bharati.
It’s strange and painful that I had to come out in the public, but I didn’t ask for it. It is not about taking on the government. I have worked with the government for 37 years, and there is a misunderstanding that I am taking on the minister. As civil servants, we are trained not to do so, you don’t forget 37 years in a few days. There is a clause somewhere that is preventing further autonomy and professionalisation. I am not pro X or pro Y; I am pro autonomy. This job is an Act of Parliament that says that I have a duty to perform. If I go back on that for the sake of expediency or for being a gentleman, I would be failing in my duties. It’s the first time in the last 20 years that the issue of Prasar Bharati’s autonomy has been raised in the public domain. We had resolved in the PB Board that the one glaring anomaly in our functioning is that news is given to us by the Act. But the operation part, that is news control, rests with the Government of India. They appoint, disappoint, transfer, post and we learn it from the newspapers that somebody has been posted there. I have no say. I have tried desperately to have a say, to know who has news sense, who has a flair for electronic media, who would be better in a regulatory job like Registrar of Newspapers, who would be better in films. My humble submission to the government is that AIR and DD require a specialisation that is different from other regulatory jobs. It is our duty to voice the government’s achievements, but a public broadcaster is expected to have a clinical, balanced approach too. All we said is that these boys are good, allow them to join us. We have 500-plus offices, we can circulate them, so there is no question of them rotting in one place or developing vested interests. Allow us the freedom to turn them around, the chance to make them first-rate professionals. I’ll send them out, send them in, I’ll tell them to pick up nuances rather than go into sarkari mode. You should know who is your master of transfer, posting, etc. I have never said that they have interfered. I continued…