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Saffron To ‘Saffronisation’: The Changing Colour Palette of Doordarshan

The colour of its logo changed to saffron from red. With the election season peaking, the move broke the political thermometer of the country.

DD News unveiled its latest logo on X, promising an “all-new” experience.
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Last Tuesday India’s public service broadcaster, Doordarshan or DD, stoked a massive controversy despite its motto of political neutrality. The colour of its logo changed to saffron from red.

Saffron is so closely tied with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that it is called the saffron party, its agenda ‘saffronisation’. With the election season peaking, the move broke the political thermometer of the country. 

DD News unveiled its latest logo on X, promising an “all-new” experience.

“While our values remain the same, we are now available in a new avatar. Get ready for a news journey like never before. Experience the all-new DD News!,” said the X handle.

“We have the courage to put: Accuracy over speed, Facts over claims, Truth over sensationalism…Because if it is on DD News, it is the truth! DD News – Bharosa Sach Ka,” the post on X added. 

While Prasar Bharati said the change was just aesthetic, political brouhaha ensued. DD was accused of aligning with the BJP. A counter argument was forwarded: the saffron was nothing new; Indira Gandhi had decided upon the saffron colour of the logo way back. 

This brings us to chart the trajectory of the DD logo over the past decades.

1959: On September 15, Doordarshan had extremely humble beginnings. An experimental telecast was started with a small transmitter and a makeshift studio. 

1965: Doordarshan started regular daily transmission as part of the All India Radio. 

1972: Service was extended to Mumbai and Amritsar 

1975: The television service was extended to seven other states 

1976: Since those were the days of black and white transmission, the logo or the beloved ‘DD Eye’ was without any colours.

It is pertinent to delve into how the ‘DD Eye’ came about.

The logo was designed by Devashis Bhattacharyya, a student of the National Institute of Design (NID). It was one of several design options submitted to the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.  In an interview Bhattacharyya had said that his vision for the logo was yin and yang.

Later, RL Mistry, also from NID, had animated the logo. While the logo had ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ as tagline in the initial iterations, the line was done away with later. 

Also, in 1976, the iconic DD tune was composed by sitar maestro pandit Ravi Shankar and shehnai player Ustad Ali Ahmed hussain Khan.

1982: It was during the Asiad or Asian Games in Delhi that the logo went colour—saffron on green backdrop—and was greenlighted by Indira Gandhi.  

In subsequent iterations of the logo, the colour was changed to blue, yellow and red.

2024: The colour reverts to saffron.

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