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Prakash Javadekar, 63

I&B minister (till revamp) 4/10; Succeeded by Arun Jaitley in November

Prakash Javadekar, 63
Prakash Javadekar, 63

The affable Maharashtrian, one of the more personable BJP faces on TV, was rewarded for his role in stitching up an alliance with the TDP. But the story of Javadekar being told by the PMO to change from jeans to “something less fancy” while on his way to the airport for a conference abroad, showed nothing can be taken for granted even under a very fashion-conscious PM—and that ‘Big Brother’ is watching. Always. After taking charge, Javadekar said the I&B ministry should be wound up, but when the phone call came at midnight on November 8 that he was being shifted to the “more important” environment ministry, it showed how much emphasis the Modi sarkar placed on messaging. By replacing him with finance minister Arun Jaitley, who has more friends in the media than any politician in his party, the carrot-and-stick were being dangled before media owners, many of whom have plenty to hide: fall in line or else the taxman will follow. The broadcast of Modi’s ‘Man ki Baat’ on All India Radio and the telecast of RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat’s Vijayadashami speech on Doordarshan News have showed that the BJP, like the Congress, tends to look at the supposedly autonomous bodies as mouthpieces of the party in power. The virtual demotion of the government’s main spokesperson, Neelam Kapur, who worked closely with ministers of the UPA dispensation, after changing service rules showed the government’s single-minded approach.

Javadekar made somewhat friendly noises on opening up private FM radio stations to news. The FM phase III policy, okayed in 2011, is still to see the light of day and the licenses are set to expire in 2015. With the finance minister also in charge of I&B, there are some who see FDI in media as a real possibility, later if not sooner. But under both Javadekar and Jaitley, the elephant in the room is Prasar Bharati Corporation, whose 28,000 employees produce little of value.

The Prasar Bharati recruitment board to hire independent personnel has never been set up. There are 10 station directors in DD where there should be 191; there are 20,000 vacancies. DD has fallen off the viewership map and AIR desperately needs a makeover. Media-friendly Jaitley comes at a time when ad revenues are down for both print and television—both now will be looking for the right signals from the news minister who held the same portfolio under Atal Behari Vajpayee.

@PrakashJavadekar | 1,229 tweets | 2,89,000 followers

“Mediaa-internet udyog ka itna vistar hoga yah kalpana bhi kisine nahi ki thi. Garib ko manoranjan ki zaroorat thi, isliye iska tezi se vistar hua.”

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