At the 151st Prasar Bharati Board meeting on Monday, a long-pending decision was reached and India’s public service broadcaster hired Ernst and Young to carry out a manpower audit. The whole process is scheduled to take eight months from kick-off.
In a recent tweet, the company posted, “Happy to share that we are finally kicking off Manpower Audit of @prasarbharati encompassing Doordarshan and @AkashvaniAIR over the next many months. We will be assisted by @ey_india in this project which will lay out the future blueprint for India’s Public Service Broadcaster.”
Shashi Shekhar Vempati, CEO at Prasar Bharati said in a re-tweet that the meeting on Monday was “the most productive meetings on the wide range of issues on which decisions were taken. An important and long pending decision was on the Manpower Audit recommended by the Sam Pitroda Committee.”
The Sam Pitroda report stated that Prasar Bharati had 33,800 employees while it had a sanctioned strength of 48,022 — more than any public broadcaster in the world. While the BBC had almost half the employee strength at 16,858, public broadcasters in Japan and China were powered by around 10,000 employees each. The report was filed with the government in January, 2014.
While Doordarshan currently runs 23 television channels besides operating a free-to-air, direct-to-home platform, the AIR has 420 radio stations. Across these operations there seem to be enough scope for automation and there is thus a need to audit and understand how the employee strength can best be managed, the workforce made IT-enabled and redundant roles can be pruned.
Vempati went on record with The Hindu stating that, “There is a lot of scope for automation. The audit is to identify these gaps and re-orient many of the roles.”
That said, he also assured that the process was not aimed at retrenchment. “We have an ageing workforce and in next five-nine years a sizeable portion of our employees will retire. Also, we already have a huge gap between the sanctioned force and available strength, so the audit does not necessarily mean retrenchments”.
Talent re-orientation seems to be a requisite in today’s age of automated, IT-enabled, AI-friendly businesses. When it comes to age-old legacy companies that run on legacy and nostalgia and that have always had a certain way of running things, these changes are often quite tumultuous. These modifications are however, imperative in order to stay relevant. How the people puzzle is rearranged and how well it operates post the overhaul would depend on the path charted out for the future.