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News |  25 Feb 2009 | by ITV

Prasar Bharati should have more autonomy: Parliamentary committee

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NEW DELHI: No recruitment has been made in the Indian Broadcasting (Programme) Service, started in 1990 to train a separate cadre of employees for All India Radio and Doordarshan.

A Parliamentary Committee in a strongly-worded report also found that the kind of autonomy which ought to have been there "is not there in Prasar Bharati" and hoped the "Government and Prasar Bharati would move ahead from this point and work in harmony to strengthen the institution."

Although the Committee on Empowerment of Women was to make a report on �Working Conditions of women in Prasar Bharati', it made a large number of sweeping comments about the way the pubcaster is being run.

The Government had recently announced that all Central Government employees recruited for Akashvani or Doordarshan until 5 October 2007 are to be deemed as on deputation with effect from April 2000 until their retirement, affecting around 38,000 employees.

While taking note of this decision, the 30-member Committee headed by Krishna Tirath of the Congress Party, said the Government could not be absolved of the delay in taking a final decision in the matter. It also recommended that the recruitment rules and service conditions of Prasar Bharati's own employees should be finalized and the confusions, if any, pertaining to the Government employees on deemed deputation to the Corporation be sorted out within three months and the report sent to the Committee.

The Committee also strongly criticized the government for not filling posts against sanctioned strength in Prasar Bharati, noting that "the Committee is extremely unhappy that a large number of creative young women and men are denied the chance to be part of the public broadcasting service in the country," though it noticed there were legal and administrative constraints behind this state of affairs.

It was observed that there was a shortage of 44.8 per cent of the sanctioned strength in group �A' and about 40 per cent in Group �B' in Doordarshan, and 58.8 per cent of the posts in Group �A' were vacant in All India Radio. As many as 4629 posts in Doordarshan and 6433 posts in All India Radio remain unfilled.

Recruitment to the post of programme executives was last made 18 years earlier in 1991. "The case is no different in various other categories of AIR and Doordarshan," the committee said.

The Committee, therefore, wanted the pubcaster to "pull up its socks and start the recruitment process at the earliest."

It said it was "astonished that some important posts in the Prasar Bharati Board like those of Director General of Doordarshan and DG of AIR are lying vacant for about two years. These should be filled without any further delay."

At the outset, the Committee noted with disappointment that there was only one woman representative in the Prasar Bharati Board. "Creating a media environment more responsive to women is the need of the hour and added participation of women in decision-making bodies is a pre-requisite for that," the report said.

It felt that the Government should incorporate mandatory provisions in the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act 1990 to ensure the presence of more women in the Prasar Bharati Board.

The Committee also wanted that two members of the Board should be from the scheduled castes/scheduled tribes. Even otherwise, the Committee found that there were 105 SC/ST vacancies in Doordarshan and 289 in AIR, which was a "matter of serious concern and anxiety" and should be rectified.

It noted that Doordarshan had 1353 women employees out of a total of 17079 employees, while AIR had 1854 women out of a total of 22296 employees. The percentage of women in Group �A' and �B' was 25 and 19 per cent respectively in Doordarshan, and 14 and 15 per cent in AIR.

�Though the Committee was "comparatively satisfied" with the representation of women in higher posts in both the organizations, it was "quite unhappy" to see their dwindling numbers in lower categories.

The Committee looked forward to Prasar Bharati becoming a model institution as far as employment of women was concerned, and therefore recommended that appropriate steps should be taken to create more job opportunities for woman and enhance their representation in the workforce.

The Committee held Prasar Bharati guilty of unfair practices in not regularizing and not giving adequate remuneration to around 680 employees in Doordarshan and around 2200 in All India Radio who had been working as casual employees for up to 15 years in different capacities including news editors and news readers.

The Committee has also made some recommendations with regard to compassionate appointments, awards, gender budgeting, welfare measures and grievance redressal mechanisms.