February 10, 2021 12:20:04 am
Confusion prevails in the corridors of five film and media units under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) merger, which was announced by the Cabinet on December 23. Senior officials as well as other staff members are waiting for the government to give clarity about the new structure of National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), which will now become an umbrella organisation, and future of the employees, especially those directly employed with MIB or through autonomous bodies.
Employees of Films Division (FD), National Film Archive of India (NFAI), Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI), Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF), which are to be merged with NFDC as per the new decision, are anxious about their future and want to know if their benefits as central government employees will continue when transferred to a public sector utility (PSU) such as the NFDC.
While the government announced that an appointment of a transaction adviser and a legal adviser will be made to oversee “transfer of assets and employees and to oversee all aspects of operationalisation of the merger”, there has been no move on that front; this has added to uncertainty among these organisations.
Employees of FD, NFAI, DFF and CFSI are also questioning the wisdom of merging these four organisations into NFDC, which is relatively smaller as compared to FD, and has performed poorly in the last few decades.
Staffers from FD, the largest of the five organisations, have written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that although they are not against the merger of the film bodies, they are concerned about the status of the employees after the merger.
“…the employment status (of the FD employees) and all benefits should be continued as it is without any disturbances, their government accommodation and CGHS facility also be continued to keep them as central government employees and avail all the central government facilities…,” reads the letter signed by the staff association dated January 7.
According to other staffers at FD, Additional Secretary Anju Nigam held a meeting with the heads of all five media units and staff representatives on February 3, but could not provide them any clarity about the future of the four media units to be merged with NFDC.
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“Although we are not against the merger as such, we conveyed to her the surprise in the way bigger bodies like Films Division has been merged into a smaller body. In comparison to NFDC, Films Division is much richer in assets and manpower and, hence, NFDC and other media units should have been merged with Films Division, as was done in the case of banks where non-performing banks were merged with bigger banks,” said a staff member of FD on condition of anonymity.
Dhanpreet Kaur, director (films), MIB, told The Indian Express that the merger will not have any adverse impact on current employees.
“Their apprehensions have been taken into account and they will be taken care of while carrying out the merger. When the Minister MIB made the announcement of the cabinet decision, he has made it clear that employees will not be adversely affected,” Kaur said, adding that the cabinet provided MIB with a two-year time window to undertake the merger.
The NFDC, which was established in 1975 with the purpose of development and promotion of the Indian film industry, has an employee strength of 134 while FD established in 1948, tasked with the production of documentaries and news magazines for government programmes, has 609 employees.
Employees of FD, NFAI, CFSI and DFF, who presently have a central government status and come under CCS rules, are also worried how NFDC will be able to function in the long term as most of the activities carried out by these bodies do not generate any revenue.
An employee of FD said, “There is a widespread apprehension that this newly merged corporation will not last for a long period merely with a one-time corpus fund. Annual support from the government will alone help this organisation to run smoothly. Hence, it’s important that more thought is given while merging the MIB’s media unit into a PSU like NFDC,” said a staff member, who did not wish to be named.
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