Converged ministries: Need of the hour

The brief for this column is critiquing news channels and not the affairs of the Narendra Modi regime. But given that much depends on the ways of the I&B ministry over the next few months, I can’t stop venting my sentiments on what has been a very disappointing government formation.

I thought Modi & Co would be superquick with decisions but the fact that there was much delay in the announcement of portfolios indicated that all was not well. The list of ministries allocated was leaked to the media though confirmed only yesterday morning.

And as it was conjectured, Pune’s Prakash Javadekar was given independent charge of I&B ministry. But along with that, Monsieur J was also awarded independent charge of the crucial MoEF and climate change, as well as shared charge of Parliamentary Affairs.

It’s perhaps my limited worldview, but I don’t know what linkage I&B has with environment, forests etc or even parliamentary affairs. More than this mess, I think Modi missed another trick: that of a converged ministry for I&B, telecom/ communications and IT.

For some years now, I have been crying hoarse on the need for a single-point policy-making of all forms of communication and technology. In many ways, save some IT issues, it’s already in practice with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) policing communication businesses.

It’s the TRAI which has been laying down policies like the 10+2 ad cap, for cross-ownership, viewership measurement etc. Had PM Modi integrated the three ministries, he would’ve made history having looked at the domains in a holistic manner.

Meanwhile, Javadekar made all the right noises on his first day. He said that press freedom is imperative for the success of democracy as it gives a rainbow of opinion. Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar, who had many run-ins with former I&B mantri Manish Tewari, tweeted: “First 2 meetings with new Minister so refreshing: open to ideas” At least for some, it’s achche din...

Pradyuman Maheshwari is a senior journalist and editor. When he’s not chasing news, he’s watching it.
Twitter: @pmahesh

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