Nearly three decades after it was set up as an autonomous body, India’s public broadcaster Prasar Bharati may finally manage to get its own recruitment board — a key step towards addressing the staffing needs of Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR), according to people familiar with the matter.
A senior government official who asked not to be named said that the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990, laid down the establishment of one or more recruitment boards, but it did not materialise because over the years the Union government and the public broadcaster were not on the same page over the modalities of setting up such a board.
“Prasar Bharati is supposed to be an autonomous body, yet it does not have a mechanism to hire its employees. Consequently, government officers belonging to other services generally come to work in Prasar Bharati on deputation. Over decades, the Prasar Bharati Recruitment Board could never be set up because the I&B ministry and the public broadcaster often had differences over its structure, or may be this reason or that,” said the official, requesting anonymity.
The Information & Broadcasting ministry recently took a major step in this direction by drafting the Prasar Bharati Establishment of Recruitment Board Rules, 2020, which have been sent around a month ago to the Union law ministry for vetting, according to a second official aware of the matter.
Once these rules are notified, it will be pave for the setting up of a Prasar Bharati Recruitment Board, he said.
According to the first official quoted above, in order to ensure the Prasar Bharati and the ministry are on the same page before the rules are notified, a copy was sent to the public broadcaster as well.
“Prasar Bharati had raised questions about an earlier draft. Therefore, the draft was revised by the ministry to address the concerns of the broadcaster. The matter was again discussed in a meeting of the Prasar Bharati earlier this week (February 4), and there is a feeling that the notification could spur the creation of the much awaited board,” the senior official added.
When contacted, Prasar Bharati chairperson A Surya Prakash, whose term ended on Saturday, confirmed that the issue was under “active discussion”.
“The creation of the Prasar Bharati Recruitment Board is mandated by the Act itself. The ministry has been working in this regard. Its creation would be a very welcome step,” he said.
There are around 40,000 employees who presently work with Prasar Bharati, including Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR).
Former I&B secretary Uday Kumar Varma said the creation of a Prasar Bharati Recritment Board (PBRB) is a “long-overdue step”.
When Prasar Bharati was set up, several government officials joined it on what is called “deemed deputation”. It was expected that over the years, the structure of the new body would come up and they would have their own rules, he said. However, the recruitment board was not set up and there was lack of clarity on a lot of issues.
“Perhaps the ministry is trying to clear the haze and address all these issues, which is quite needed,” said Varma.
Significantly, in the absence of a recruitment framework, the Information and Broadcasting ministry had even brought in an amendment to the Prasar Bharati Act to resolve manpower related issues.
The Prasar Bharati Amendment Act of 2011, amended provisions to ensure that all posts in Akashvani and Doordarshan, barring few exceptions, shall be deemed to have been transferred to the Prasar Bharati from April 1, 2000. The amendment act had defined the service conditions of several of the employees in some of the key areas.―Hindustan Times