The sudden transfer orders of August 8, 2014 shifting Neelam Kapoor from the high profile post of principal spokesperson of the Government of India in the rank and pay of special secretary as Principal Director General (Media & Communications) to a lower position of Director General, Field Publicity, which is equivalent to Additional Secretary (her pay equivalent to secretary is protected), and her replacement by Frank Noronha, is a welcome development. Media, across the board, have hailed it as a sign of determination of the Narendre Modi Government to infuse new vigour in the Press Information Bureau (PIB) to cultivate media as equal partners in the overall development of India. Frank Noronha is media friendly with a penchant for doing most unpleasant job with pleasure. He has had considerable experience having worked in the Bureau as also in other official media units. His ability to perform with aplomb and panache is proven.
The ex-PDG (M & C) Neelam Kapoor was discriminatory to language and vernacular media; hot tempered, arrogant and media unfriendly. She disenchanted the media to the disadvantage of the Government. Even in-house the Bureau, rank and file of departmental publicity officers were divided against so much so that the team spirit was amiss. Not only this, the Bureau failed to provide well-integrated and coordinated thrust to the totality of the publicity thrust of the Government. She was also a singular beneficiary of the Punjabi parochialism having been patronized by the two successive Ministers of Information and Broadcasting, Ambika Soni & Manish Tewary, abetted by the then UPA Government led by Dr. Man Mohan Singh. She deserved her transfer rightly. It would have been still better if the Government had appointed some well meaning media person like the one with Sudhindra Kulkarni’s caliber on a contract and clear cut brief to stem the rot in the official media.
As for the new DG (News) Door Darshan, Archana Dutta, less said is the better. In fact, she never showed her mettle as a right kind of information professional. Her stint as Press Secretary to the President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil was at its best a time pass and at that a lack luster one. One feels sorry for a good person and professionally competent media man S.M.Khan for having been made scapegoat and sacrificed on compulsory wait by the concerted manipulative machination of the IAS bureaucracy. In fact, it would have been quite right if the CEO Prasar Bharati; Jawahar Sircar would have been meted out similar fate. A good man, S.M. Khan is rated highly by the media. In fact, he is very media friendly. Treatment meted to him bodes ill for the Government!