Television

Jawhar Sircar sets 12-point action plan before early retirement

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NEW DELHI: Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer Jawhar Sircar wants to ride into the sunset slightly before his tenure ends officially first quarter 2017, but in his trademark  style --- feisty, frank and fearless --- has started a raging debate in media and political circles nevertheless.

“No, I have not threatened to quit (but) have just expressed a desire to relinquish (duties) a few months before tenure (ends). I do not see any controversy in that,” Sircar told indiantelevision.com.

Sources in Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) confirmed on Sunday that Sircar has not resigned yet, but has informally expressed desire to leave Prasar Bharati few months before his five-year tenure ends officially early 2017.

A source in Prasar Bharati, while agreeing with the MIB line, informed this website that Sircar has drawn a 12-point list of things he would like to accomplish before relinquishing office. The source, however, declined to spell out the action points.

Interestingly, in a Facebook post on his timeline Saturday, Sircar did say that he wants to go from Prasar Bharat, also alluding to the time-frame. “Since news is out today: I will clarify. I hope to be back in Kolkata by NOV. After 41+ years (of) service, I want to retire: just to read, write and relate,” he wrote. One presumes by NOV, he mean November of 2016.

Sircar, who took office in mid-February 2012 and has been at odds at times with MIB and even the Prasar Bharati Board, told  indiantelevision.com, “The Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Prasar Bharati Board are in sync and supportive…. No issues there.”

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Pointing out that the present MIB Secretary Ajay Mittal had been “supportive” as also his immediate predecessor, Sunil Arora, who’s now an advisor to Prasar Bharati, Sircar described the speculation regarding his quitting the pubcaster as “playing in non-troubled waters”.

According to the feisty former bureaucrat, relationship with MIB “improved dramatically” after Arora took over as Secretary in 2014.

On being asked about the media reports and resultant debate on his quitting Prasar Bharati as he was “tired”, Sircar cryptically said he had not wanted to speak to anyone but was compelled to reply to some “charged SMS from some newspersons” when he was in Benaras or Varanasi recently. He refused to elaborate any further.

A go-getter bureaucrat who took retirement from active government service to take up the top, but challenging, job at India’s pubcaster, managing Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR), Sircar had told indiantelevision.com few months back in an interview that Prasar Bharti’s “monopolistic-era mind-set had to change” if it has to make itself relevant in today’s vastly changed India broadcasting scenario or come anywhere near BBC’s standards.

Not only critical of his own Board of Directors, Sircar had, from time to time, taken on the political establishment too in India, accusing it of using Prasar Bharati as a fiefdom for government propaganda.

In recent times, he has been criticised within Prasar Bharati for proposing to auction time-slots on DD to gain good programming and additional revenue. However, due to bureaucracy and vested interests at play, the scheme failed to get the desired results, failing to take off in the first place.

Still, Sircar has been able to break new grounds and introduce digital technologies and cut down obsolescence at Prasar Bharat. He has also given a new push to digitization of the huge archives of AIR and DD and has received three awards for this in three years.

He has also been elected as Vice-President of the world's largest public broadcasting service TV and radio organization, Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union, on which 67 nations are represented.

Sircar’s name had been cleared after a three-member selection panel in 2012, headed by Vice-President Hamid Ansari and comprising the Press Council of India Chairman and MIB Secretary, recommended his name for the CEO’s post at Prasar Bharati. The appointment of the CEO is done by the President of India on the recommendation of the selection panel, which will, probably, have to start deliberations soon.

Born on 22 March 1952, Sircar belongs to the 1975 batch of Indian Administrative Service from West Bengal. After the retirement of MIB Secretary Raghu Menon in September 2011, Sircar had been asked to hold additional charge of the ministry as a stop-gap measure, apart from his Secretary’s responsibilities at the Culture Ministry.

Sircar holds two post-graduate degrees in Ancient Indian History and Culture and in Sociology with Social Anthropology. He has served at various senior positions in the Central and State Governments.

Sircar is actively associated with several cultural and academic bodies like the Asiatic Society, Victoria Memorial, Centre for Archaeological Studies, Kolkata Museum of Modern Art and the Indian Anthropological Society. He took the lead in establishing the annual Kolkata Film Festival as an international event and has published several articles and research papers on history, culture and society. In the last decade, he has focused his research on specific aspects of popular culture, folk religion and on the development of socio-religious identities.

Sircar studied at St Xavier’s School, Presidency College and Calcutta University in Kolkata and at the Universities of Cambridge and Sussex.

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Prasar Bharati's monopolistic-era mind-set has to change: CEO Jawhar Sircar



 

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