Prasar Bharati Board crippled as political appointees bid good-bye

NEW DELHI: With the advertisement for filling the posts of member (Finance) and member (Personnel) in the Prasar Bharati Board being given out, the government has commenced the groundwork for shortlisting the names of Prasar Bharati Board members, as four more part-time members have resigned on moral grounds.


Sources in Prasar Bharati have informed that Prema Cariappa is the latest to put down her papers, while earlier Suman Dubey, Deepa Dixit and R Kesavan who is great-grandson of Rajaji had resigned from their positions.


There are currently seven vacancies in the Board, since Prasar Bharati is without a chairperson as Mrinal Pande’s term has come to an end, and the posts of both the executive members in-charge of personnel and finance are vacant.


While no official comment was available, pubcaster sources say that these resignations could be due to the fact that they were political appointees.


Under the Prasar Bharati Act 1990, the part-time members have a term of six years and therefore cannot be removed before that term is over even if there is a change in government or the governance of Prasar Bharati.


However, one source said that the members are believed to have resigned as a moral obligation since they were appointees of the previous government.


It is also learnt that the members were apprehensive of greater interference in the working of the autonomous pubcaster, and the resignations could be termed as a ‘boycott’ or ‘protest’.


Another source said that the members were also unhappy with the fact that there were crucial delays in not only filling vacancies in the Board, but also the vacancies that had been cleared by the Group of Ministers as crucial to the function of the pubcaster.


The Prasar Bharati Board comprises its chairman, an executive member (chief executive officer), member (Finance), member (Personnel) and six part-time members.

That apart, a representative of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Director General of All India Radio and Doordarshan are its ex-officio members.


Earlier in April this year, the then Union Cabinet had decided to maintain status quo in Prasar Bharati with regard to recruitment of people up to the age of 62 to allow the public broadcaster to fill key positions that have been lying vacant or are likely.


Interestingly, a Group of Ministers (GoM) had earlier recommended that the age for these positions be lowered to 55 years and that recommendation has been under the consideration of the government. 


However, the decision was taken on a proposal by I&B Ministry as the tenure of this government was ending and the implementation of GoM recommendations for lowering the age required an amendment to the Prasar Bharati Act.


Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar had earlier told that he was unhappy that no steps had been taken to fill important posts, which he felt should have been filled before they become vacant.

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