Two years on, Prasar Bharati Recruitment Board yet to take off!

Accumulated vacancies in the Prasar Bharati are massive and disproportionately all time high at 22,333. It is learnt that 70 per cent of total vacant posts have been filled up in flagrant violation of rules on contract from organisations and personnel of RSS stock, writes M Y Siddiqui

Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Recruitment Board, set up to fill up direct recruitment vacancies for Akashvani  (All India Radio) and Doordarshan (DD), with effect from July 1, 2020 under a notification by the controlling Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on February 12, 2020, is yet to take off. An inquiry reveals that the Board is currently seized by the recruitment process for physically impaired persons. It is silent about filling up massive vacancies. As a result, Prasar Bharati is now a truncated public broadcaster, reduced to as a whole and sole propaganda machinery of the union government. Before the commencement of Prasar Bharati Recruitment Board, a limited number of critical vacancies in Group B and Group C categories, in Border States, was filled up through the Staff Selection Commission (SSC).

Meanwhile, accumulated vacancies in the Prasar Bharati are massive and disproportionately all time high. According to a latest official figure, combined total vacancies of AIR and DD are 22,333 out of combined total sanctioned posts of 47,829. Out of these vacancies in AIR (Akashvani) are 10,247 and 12,086 in DD. Total sanctioned strength of employees in AIR is 26,129 and in DD 21,700. Combined strength of employees in Prasar Bharati in position is 24,496, of which 11,453 are in AIR and 14,043 in DD. It is learnt that 70 percent of total vacant posts have been filled up in flagrant violations of the general recruitment rules on contract from organisations and personnel of the RSS stock.

Contractual employment is a new normal and willfully done by the central and state governments to avoid democratic obligations with no job guarantee, very low remunerations with no health, children education allowance, accommodation and denial of after retirement social security benefits like pension. The governments, both at the centre and states, carry on with a massive contractual employment taking advantage of unprecedented rise in poverty, unemployment and high costs of living of our people. The result has been poor governance in all segments of public administration. The worst casualty can be witnessed in the education and health quotient of the people. Employability of graduates in the country is less than 5 percent in the globalized Indian economy.

Prasar Bharati Recruitment Board is charged with recruitment in the posts of personnel below joint secretary level in the union government. Public broadcasters maintain that pending regular employment by the Board, vacancies are being filled by promotion in keeping with the extant instructions of Department of Personnel and Training (DoP&T). Prasar Bharati is still jostling with auditing performance cum relevance of each post in the light of fast changing technology and various recommendations of committees/commissions on AIR and DD reforms. Reticence on filling massive vacancies through much hyped and much touted Prasar Bharati Recruitment Board is baffling for the people in the know.

News services of both the AIR and DD have lost their sheen and have been reduced as a sole propaganda tool of the one-man union government so much so that people hardly know who are the ministers in the respective ministries. This is primarily because individual ministers do not matter for Prasar Bharati. Earlier, AIR news bulletins, especially at 9 p.m. used to set benchmarks for the front-page news in the following morning newspapers. It is no longer the case now. So was the importance of Spotlight for students, job seekers, researchers on current affairs and development news. AIR news bulletin used to compete with news agencies as well. Besides, AIR and DD used to be a treasure house of the country’s cultural quotients in music, classical and modern, art and strides made in all round development and progress. Now everything is diluted in a partisan way from the RSS angle. In the process, well meaning people and intellectuals resort to social media for independent minded live wire bold media professionals for news, their analysis and evaluation on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, online news portals etc. There are all round deterioration in newscasts, documentary films, educational, informational and entertainment programmes.

The current union government, rather than creating new jobs, is not even filling up massive vacancies in the sanctioned posts. News services in both AIR and DD are overwhelmingly manned by contractual employees from RSS stock, which together with the so-called captive mainstream corporate electronic and print media deny the people their inherent democratic rights to know the factual scenario of problems being faced by the people at large and their critical appraisal on the public broadcasters indicating that Indian democracy is on its last leg gasping for breath!