Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the DD Kisan channel on May 26 last year on the completion of one year of his government. But within a year of its inception, the channel is witnessing a power tussle between Doordarshan Director General Aparna Vaish and advisor of the channel Naresh Sirohi. Sirohi had appointed monitors in almost every district, but Vaish has cancelled these appointments.
Sirohi had appointed the monitors “to give feedback on different programmes of the channel, besides helping connect with farmers, artisans on ground in their respective areas.” The monitors were issued appointment letters during April-June last year. The appointments were done on “honorary” basis.
But in an April 27 note, examined by The Indian Express, Vaish said: “It has come to the notice of the directorate that letters appointing DD Kisan monitors have been issued by an advisor. This is to notify that all such appointments are hereby cancelled.”
Sources said DD Kisan is now in the process of sending a “relieving” letter to these monitors, saying their cooperation was no longer needed.
“Anybody is welcome to popularise the channel, but any appointment letter must be issued only by the authorities concerned. Advisors appointed on contractual basis are not supposed to appoint such monitors,” said Vaish.
On the other hand, Sirohi said, “Monitors were playing a key role in popularising the channel without charging us a penny. They often spent from their own pockets to improve the quality of content. It is unfortunate that after a year, they are being told that their appointment is cancelled.”
Sources said the appointment letters were issued to most monitors in April last year, even before the channel was launched. Meanwhile, the TRP of DD Kisan, which surged within six months of its launch, has now fallen.
Over 600 monitors had been appointed across the country. Documents show that the decision to appoint them was taken at a meeting of Prasar Bharati on April 16, 2015. Interestingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Mann Ki Baat on May 31 last year, had said, “A system for monitoring farmers has been arranged in each of our districts. Please contact the respective district heads for availing this benefit.”
A note dated April 17, 2015, prepared by then Additional Director General (DD Kisan) Ranjan Mukherjee mentions the suggestion that a “monitoring group should be constituted, preferably in each district, and in future it would act as eyes and ears for the channel and submit inputs in respect of agricultural developments including comments/suggestions on each and every programme related to the farmers…”
According to the note, the chairman had directed the formation of the monitoring groups at the earliest. “Shri Naresh Sirohi, advisor, Kisan Channel, is requested to form a team of monitors across the country (preferably in each district) using his good office and sources,” the note said.