Prasar Bharati, India's public broadcaster service that includes Doordarshan, has initiated disciplinary proceedings against R Vasumathi, an Assistant Director of Programme in Chennai. This because she failed to telecast live on DD Podhigai a speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Singapore-India Hackathon 2019 held at IIT Madras's research centre in Chennai on September 30.
The order given to Vasumathi, however, does not explicitly state the reason for her suspension. It merely conveys that a disciplinary hearing has been initiated against the programme director and while it is underway she will be placed under suspension as per the Central Civil Services Rules (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965. It has been signed by the Chief Executive Officer of Prasar Bharathi, Shashi Shekhar Vempati.
According to a top source in Prasar Bharathi, Vasumathi has been placed under suspension, and called her decision not to telecast part of the Hackathon as 'wilful insubordination'.
"This was a case of wilful insubordination. She failed to telecast the speech live despite having been instructed to do so explicitly," a source in Prasar Bharathi told TNM.
The Prime Minister had addressed three gatherings in Chennai on September 30. While DD Podhigai had telecast two of these events live, only a part of the Hackathon was telecast. The channel had live telecast the PM's address to a crowd of BJP supporters when he landed at the Chennai airport. Later, he felicitated the winners of the second edition of the Singapore-India joint hackathon held at IIT Madras. And then he attended the 56th annual convocation ceremony of IIT Madras as the chief guest.
According to another source, the Prime Minister's office had enquired on September 30 itself as to why the speech had not been telecast live but was carried as a 'news item' in the bulletin. Though one official replied that the crew did not get requisite permissions to go live, another said that DD National had telecast the speech, which was the regular practice for national events.
When asked if such a suspension was a harsh reaction, the source said that the 'government does not look at suspension as a punishment, and this is part of a process as the inquiry goes on'.
In his speech at the Hackathon event, the PM had said, "I see satisfaction of a task well accomplished, I think this sense of satisfaction comes also from Chennaiâ€™s special breakfast. Idly, dosa, vada, sambar. The hospitality offered by the city of Chennai is extraordinary in its warmth."
Concluding his speech by thanking the organisers and participants, Modi said, â€śYou are in Chennai, which offers rich culture, great heritage and food.â€ť He also encouraged participants to visit the coastal town of Mahabalipuram and its UNESCO world heritage site monuments during their stay in the city.