In the concluding part of this series, The Indian Express reporters look at five different institutions from business to culture, legislature to judiciary, and read between the headlines of this year to interpret what will make news in 2016.
If there was one central ministry that found itself grappling with a single issue that started as a small flame but erupted into a full-blown fire in the year 2015, it was the Information & Broadcasting Ministry — the issue being the student strike at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).
Grossly underestimating the agitation against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan to head FTII in its nascent stages, the I&B Ministry discovered the hard way how a simmering issue — if left unattended for long — can snowball. As the row dragged on from Chauhan’s appointment in June to a 139-day strike that ended in October, the ministry saw a host of film industry biggies throw their weight behind the students.
The Central Board of Film Certification also brought a constant headache. From sparring members to a chairman who clearly was not able to carry his team along, and from censorship to cuts, the CBFC continued to be in the news. While the official I&B line was that “CBFC is an autonomous body and the government doesn’t interfere”, it was clear the manner in which CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani had handled the body had not earned him many fans in the ministry.
On the brighter side, the ministry conducted e-auction for 97 FM radio channels in 56 cities, earning revenue to the tune of Rs 1,156.9 crore. The launch of the DD Kisan channel was another bright spot.
Several new initiatives are planned for the coming year. Most significantly, the ministry will be piloting a new cinematograph bill to replace the Cinematograph Act of 1952. It is expected to usher in age-based certifications for films by increasing the number of categories of film certification. The ministry plans to have wider consultations with the public before taking the legislation to Parliament.
The ministry is planning a corpus fund to help showcase Indian films to international audiences to give them a chance at the Oscars. The money will be raised by the government with the help of the film industry.
But the ministry’s most critical move in 2016 would be appointment to key posts that have either been lying vacant or been handled as additional charge by officials in the past year or so, including posts of directors-general of public broadcasters Doordarshan and All India Radio, and those of FTII director and of director general of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. Besides, many CBFC members will complete their terms in 2016.
One thing that didn’t happen
An ambitious plan to launch, or rather re-launch DD India —Doordarshan’s international television channel that has existed in various avatars for close to two decades but has so far failed to make a mark before its targeted world audience— as India’s very own version of a television channel like BBC World did not take off .