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Bureaucrats Remember Arun Jaitley As Master of Complexities of Communication

Jaitley, largely credited for opening up the broadcasting sector in May 2000 for participation by private FM broadcasters, was widely considered to be a minister who looked to technology to drive content in the ministry.

PTI

Updated:August 24, 2019, 8:10 PM IST
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Bureaucrats Remember Arun Jaitley As Master of Complexities of Communication
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New Delhi: Former union minister Arun Jaitley had not only mastered the "art of writing" but also the "complexities of communication", say bureaucrats who worked with him during his two tenures as Information and Broadcasting minister.

Jaitley, 66, was I&B minister during the first NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998-2000) and again from November 2014 to July 2016.

He died on Saturday at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where he had been undergoing treatment for a few weeks

Jaitley, largely credited for opening up the broadcasting sector in May 2000 for participation by private FM broadcasters, was widely considered to be a minister who looked to technology to drive content in the ministry.

In fact, he kicked off his second stint in Information and Broadcasting by chairing a meeting with members of the parliamentary consultative committee attached to the ministry to review cable digitisation and terrestrial digitisation of Doordarshan, recalled old-timers.

Dipankar Mukherjee, Jaitley's first officer on special duty (OSD) in his maiden tenure as minister, recalled how the leader then had given him the bandwidth to advise and guide him.

"When he was appointed MoS (Independent) of Information and Broadcasting (1998-2000), he was totally new to government administration and we both decided that I would function as his OSD because of my experience in the ministry.

"It was one of my most memorable periods in office. He introduced the FM radio channels during that tenure, which changed the listening habits of people. He also launched a TV channel in Kashmiri language from Srinagar to further integrate the state to the rest of the country. I was always impressed by how he would take the long-term view to most situations. He strongly believed in free and fair news," Mukherjee, who had a four-decade-long association with Jaitley, told PTI.

Press Information Bureau (PIB) officials assigned to him recall how releases issued by Jaitley's office were easy to draft as the minister himself would be succinct in his instructions.

"He made life so much easier for information officers that releases got drafted within minutes. He had mastered the art of writing and the complexities of communication. He was an expert in delivery and I do not think there is or will be another genius at communication like him," recalled a senior information officer of the government of India, who did not wish to be named.

The goodwill Jaitley shared with his officers during his tenure as I&B minister has resulted in an outpouring of tributes on social media for him after his demise.

Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati said he was "saddened" to see the news of Jaitley's demise within a few weeks of former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj's death.

"A generation of leaders who defined BJP through the 90s early 2000s no more," he said in a series if tweets "Was fortunate to have personally interacted with him over past few years on several occasions. As I&B minister he was instrumental in my association with Prasar Bharati as a Member of the Board," Vempati said.

It was in his second tenure as I&B minister that Jaitley paved the way to allow broadcast of news on private FM radio stations.

"Very sad to hear of Arun Jaitley's death. He was one of the finest ministers I have worked with -- a thorough gentleman and quietly efficient. We argued so many times (neither of us moved from our ideology) but he was never ruffled ! May God give him rest," tweeted Jawhar Sircar, former DG, All India Radio.

Director General Doordarshan and Vice President Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union Supriya Sahu hailed Jaitley as a "true visionary" and "statesman".

"He always guided, motivated and supported us as the then I&B minister. Heartfelt condolences," she tweeted.

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