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A historic journey

By ,Tanvi Salkar

Courtesy www.expressindia.com


                 It was a nostalgic moment for me watching Doordarshan complete 50 years of its existence, after having been a part of it for more than 23 years. I was the Chief Engineer for more than a decade and have witnessed and participated in several phases of its expansion. It began first on September 15, 1959 from a small studio in the All India Radio building in New Delhi. From black and white to colour in 1982, it was a series of occurrences and finally people saw Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s speech on the eve of Independence day and later the Asian Games (1982) in Delhi on their colour television sets.

                     It all started when a German cultural team programmed here and left behind four colour tapes, one video tape recorder and one monitor. This was all that we had and along with my team and the existing transmitter, we wordlessly experimented to check if colour works. On the 14th day, the test was successful; however the colour monitor actually failed at the same time and somehow the news was leaked to UNI and PTI and they conveyed it outside that Delhi has gone colour. It was all over the papers the next day and we were immediately told by the ministry to abort the experiment. Two years later, when the nation hosted the Asian Games, we repeated it and the world saw us in colour. This has been one of the major turning point in its history.

                 A black and white television was gifted to the Government of India by Philips Holland in the late fifties and we started the transmission for an hour a week. The real expansion happened in 1970 when Indira Gandhi took up interest in spreading television programming. Later I was instrumental in suggesting the building for shifting the television training center in Delhi to the Film and Television Institute in the city. I remember how people would initially joke that the most common programme on Doordarshan is ‘Rukawat ke liye khed hai’. Those were the early days but I believe we have improved a lot in terms of technology and quality. As far as the content is concerned, it is not appreciated because the people in the cities have lost commitment to our social responsibilities. The channel has consistently reached out to the masses and people have often told me that several programmes on agriculture, for instance, have taken them to the grassroot level.

               We improved more when other channels entered the foray and competition emerged. However, there is a difference between airing entertainment and airing concerns about education and economy that matter to the masses. The channel has a bright future ahead while it continues to carry out the latter.




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