MUMBAI: Come 30 June and the very eventful term of ministry of Information & broadcasting (I&B) secretary Uday Kumar Varma is slated to come to an end.
Indiantelevision.com has already reported on the possible candidates who are being spoken about in political circles as his replacement. (See: Who will replace I&B secretary Uday Kumar Varma?)
I&B secretary Uday Kumar Varma
Varma, on his part has earned a remarkable name for himself in the industry for his commendable accomplishments in the past couple of years since he took over the secretary‘s post in October 2011 from Raghu Menon who retired in end September of that year.
After all, it was Varma who kick-started the process of digitisation and gave it the required momentum. It is Varma‘s perseverance that has made DAS a success so far. This dynamic I&B secretary has set precedents for his successors like very few before. Unlike many of his predecessors, Varma also didn‘t shy away from cracking down on content related issues on news and entertainment channels.
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indiantelevision.com spoke to industry head honchos to get their views on what they have to say about Varma‘s journey in the ministry. And very rightly, the industry congratulated him for his numerous achievements.
Digitisation was not an easy task, especially in a vast country like India. Yet, Varma spearheaded this revolutionary change and pushed it in his capacity. NDTV vice chairperson and NBA president Narayan Rao acknowledges this fact when he says: "He has been excellent from the industry‘s perspective.
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He has been very understanding and also a great force behind the entire digitisation process. The fact that two phases have been successful in a country like India is a very stupendous task and a great achievement in itself. We are proud of him."
DEN Networks- COO-MG Azhar minces no words while congratulating Varma, he says: "I would like to congratulate him for a very good term. It is absolutely an unprecedented achievement the way he and his team has rallied around and made DAS a success."
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Tata Sky CEO Harit Nagpal reminisces: "He will be remembered for sowing the seeds of digitisation and carrying multiple stakeholders like broadcasters, MSOs, LCOs and state governments together through phases I and II."
Harit Nagpal: Tata Sky CEO Harit Nagpal talks about Varma‘s co-operation with MSOs and LCOs
The process of digitisation has set up a win-win situation for both the advertising and broadcasting industry and Varma‘s attempts on this front have rightfully won him laurels. Seconding this, AAAI president, Leo Burnett India south Asia chairman and CEO Arvind Sharma says: "It was a real pleasure dealing with him and yes he has done very well. In his term as a secretary, digitisation is a big win for broadcasters as well as for the advertisers."
Talking about Varma‘s support to the film industry, PVR CEO Uday Singh says: "He has been a champion of digitisation and has been very good for the media and entertainment industry. We brought in the 100th year of Indian cinema and he has worked tremendously on that front as well. He has always been receptive to all our ideas as well."
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However, adding a different perspective, InCablenet MD and CEO Ravi Mansukhani asserts: "Well he is leaving in mid-digitisation. But he did pretty well irrespective to all the barriers coming in his way. We are in Phase II and now looking forward to phase III. In 2003 and again in 2007, the whole ecosystem tried to go ahead with digitisation but it didn‘t work out. But this time, when we started again with digitisation, I&B led by its secretary stuck to the process. Hence, in-spite of several hurdles and delays, digitisation has progressed and has almost been completed in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. And a large part of that credit should go to his sheer determination."
For his successor, it will definitely be a tough job to take his legacy forward and complete what Varma so single-mindedly kick started.