myself), and in the past six months, I don’t think I have had the chance to meet the minister.
Shailaja Bajpai: These requests don’t come to you, but presumably, they come to Mr Khan. Have they, at any stage, said there’s too much pressure from the government or the PMO?
Mr Khan speaks in monosyllables. I’m old enough to sense that things could be wrong. So there’s a set of correspondence that has gone to the board where I have expressed my dismay that these things were going on. I have sent it to the ministry, saying would you like to keep a watch on A or B, because I’m not going to take it (this news). Nobody refuted. I used silence as a stopper.
Rohit Alok*: Would you regard the deleted portion of the Modi interview as politically insignificant?
I didn’t take a call, but it may have been more appropriate to have the whole thing out, since you knew somebody else had a copy.
Coomi Kapoor: I&B Minister Manish Tewari’s point was that the government does the payments, so it should have a say.
Salaries are paid from the Consolidated Fund of India and we are all custodians, in some form or the other. It is the taxpayers’ money, so nobody owns it. Many countries draw their sustenance from either a licence fee or a funding that comes straight. The other model is to have a technologist committee, have an audit committee with CAG’s man on top of you. This is the transparent model that we have suggested. Apart from this, put us back with UPSC, put us back with SSC for junior staff. Given a choice, I would no longer go in for permanent recruitment. The entire media has contractual appointments.
Y P Rajesh: What is the way out of this logjam on autonomy?
Discourse. The Pitroda committee says the government and the people of India have invested in such huge infrastructure. Hindustan Lever set up FM channels in Bihar and went gaga over it. FM channels have been inaugurated by us over the last two years. Let X or Y run it, provided there’s nothing contrary to the accepted principles. There are around 1,400 terrestrial towers, you have something called white spaces from which you can access broadband. There is digital terrestrial light mode, one of the superior streaming instruments. To my horror, I found that we have only 39 terrestrial antenna and it would take us 30 years to have complete digital terrestrial. The government has limitation of funds. Don’t sell the family silver, but put it on an escrow account so that you can keep drawing.
Y P Rajesh: Do you think things can change after the new government takes over?
The interesting spin-off of this painful debate has been that many people have talked of a Prasar Bharati revamp. With due deference to the democratic process, whatever comes up, there’s a discourse and that’s all.
Raj Kamal Jha: Have you ever had a conversation like this one with your minister?
Twice, I had the good continued…
Birla said her campaign this time is “very similar” to the last time.