What lies beneath 'indigenous people'?

Several organisations of late have been demanding and even resorting to violence calling for the recruitment of 'indigenous' persons for different posts in the state government and central government departments including Railways, Doordarshan Kendra etc.

Recently some organisation hold rallies and issued statements in the media that only 'indigenous' people should get commission programmes for the television. Commission programmes are grants, in the form of television serials, documentaries, etc from the Home Ministry for insurgency-hit states like Jammu and Kashmir and the North Eastern states. Once again the word 'indigenous' has been drawn in, but somehow the word doesn't seem to be the raison d'ĂȘtre always.

With the advent of national and international satellite channels, people now all over the state, no matter what the conditions of their place are, have been exposed to very advanced and sophisticated programmes of all over the world. In that scenario, it is better not to talk about the standard of programmes telecast by the Doordarshan Kendra and especially in the North East channel.

Apart from several reasons, one of the main reasons for the poor standard of programmes in the Doordarshan is because of the commission programmes. A producer gets rupees 1.5 lakhs per episode under the commission programmes. In general National Award winning filmmakers, writers and renowned people associated with theatre or films gets such commission programmes without any hue and cry.

While the rest of the people, who are indigenous but without any bio-data, have to offer another type of 'commission' to the Doordarshan authorities in order to get such commission programmes. These 'indigenous' since then have been associated with such deeds for a long time and in fact now have formed themselves into a syndicate. It may be noted that Doordarshan authorities of the highest rank are party to the syndicate and regularly does 'business' with them.

One such producer divulged that he only does 'commission programmes' for a living! It may be noted that such producers gets up to seven to eight episodes under commission programmes, if not in his own name then along with his wife and even children's names!

Now the question arises why and who these 'indigenous' people who have never been associated with theatre or films gets such commission programmes? According to Doordarshan sources, each of these people has their own 'channels' and procedure in order to get commission programmes. There are even newspaper editors who get such commission programmes disguised under the name of their friends! About 95 percent of such commission programmes are so badly made that there are hardly any viewers left to digest such programmes. Viewers are left spellbound and clueless by the standards of amateur acting, script and direction of such programmes.

According to the commission programmed guidelines, no government employees can apply for commission programmes. But we have come to know that from employees of Railways, Universities to even Doordarshan applies for such commission programmes in the name of their wife, children and relatives and gets them without any objections! Now to come back to the original theme, what does 'indigenous' people mean?

Does unemployed, sincere and dedicated artists and technicians' belonging to villages or small towns gets such commission programmes? There are people who though want to apply for such programmes steps a back as they have to give rupees 10,000 as application fees which are non-refundable. So it is not possible for such people to apply for commission programmes without having any 'inside channels' with Doordarshan authorities.

Recently some National Award winning filmmakers have formed themselves into a forum and have spoken out against the intrusion of outside producers, who are not indigenous people, to make commission programmes here. Now the question arises, why didn't they formed an organisation earlier to speak against the poor standard of programmes telecast by the Guwahati Doordarshan? Why haven't they talked about the corruption indulged in by Doordarshan authorities or is it they are afraid to do so? Secondly, does the viewers look around for programmes of 'indigenous people' or to better quality productions?

People watch television for quality programmes inside their homes. Since most of the people cannot afford to view cable network, they often rely on Doodrdarshan specially the local programmes telecast through Guwahati Doordarshan. Isn't the viewers deprived of good entertaining and standard productions after all? Is it reasonable to 'conserve' commission programmes for only indigenous people and let the viewers suffer pain from it? Aren't we unfair to the viewers who actually see the Doordarshan? We would be happy to receive comments and views from people on the subject, and consequently it would be published.

- Atanu Bhuyan/Guwahati, November 23/editor@assamlive.com