Public service broadcaster Doordarshan completed 57 years on the 15th of September, 2016. Doordarshan, literally meaning ‘television’, founded by the Government of India, is an autonomous public service broadcaster run by Parasar Bharati, India’s largest broadcasting agency.
From modest beginnings with a small transistor and an announcement made by the then President Rajendra Prasad as an inauguration, Doordarshan has come a long way. Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu congratulated Doordarshan on the successful completion of 57 years of operations.
The Journey of Doordarshan
Doordarshan has indeed come a long way since its first experimental broadcast on the 15th of September, 1959.
- All India Radio (AIR) began regular transmission of news and other programmes only in 1965.
- The same year saw a 5-minute news bulletin being broadcast. The first news reader was Pratima Puri, and the very well known news anchor Salma Sultan joined in 1967.
- The longest running programme Krishi Darshan commenced in 1967.
- Initially available only in the capital of India, Delhi, the television service was extended to Mumbai and Amritsar in 1972.
- Doordarshan was available in seven cities by the end of 1975, and in 1982 it became a National Broadcaster.
- 1982 also saw the introduction of colour televisions and the live telecast of the Independence Day speech by erstwhile Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, on 15 August 1982, followed by the 1982 Asian Games held in Delhi, were seen by millions of people in colour.
- The 1980s saw Doordarshan coming up with some of the best shows in Indian Television. It had families glued to the television sets.
- 1983 saw Doordarshan broadcast the live Cricket World Cup and the joy of watching the Indian team win the cup knew no bounds.
- Today, Doordarshan has the largest studio and transmitter infrastructure in India.
- It provides television, radio, online and mobile services throughout metropolitan and regional India, as well as overseas, through the Indian Network and Radio India.
- It has also started broadcasting on digital terrestrial transmitters.
- In the present day, Doordarshan boasts of 2 All India channels (DD National and DD News), 11 regional language satellite channels, four state networks, an international channel, a sports channel (DD Sports) and two channels Rajya Sabha TV and Lok Sabha TV specifically for parliamentary proceedings.
The Great Indian Soap Operas
The Doordarshan has indeed given the Indian public some of the best shows, especially in the 1980s. Some of the shows worth remembering include:
- Malgudi Days by R.K.Narayan and the Jungle Book were the favourite shows of the children in those days.
- Humlog and Buniyaad saw families seeing the trials and tribulations of the common man with just the right amount of fiction and reality.
- Dekh Bhai Dekh was the light-hearted soap opera that saw families laughing together.
- Karamchand and Bomkesh Bakshi had the public biting their nails in anticipation of a mystery about to be solved.
- Chitrahaar telecast every Wednesday had the youngsters glued to the T.V, waiting to see the yester year heroes like Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan romancing the heroines in duets.
- The young and the old would wait eagerly for the announcement of the Movie to be telecast on Saturday. While Shataranj Ki Khiladi was a Doordarshan favourite, the public were surprised every once in a while with the censored version of movies like Shaan.
- Last but not the least, Ramayan and Mahabharat saw the entire Indian population glued to the Television every Sunday morning, with the elders literally venerating the television set every time the characters portraying Lord Ram or Lord Krishna appeared on the television screen.
The Evergreen Doordarshan
Yes, Doordarshan does bring back the fondest memories as it filled the childhood of those born in the 70s with awesomeness. With the advent of other broadcasters, Doordarshan has taken a backseat in the past two and a half decades. Too many shows, too many options of news and music channels has snatched away the enjoyment and fun of watching TV. Television is no longer a luxury, but just an idiot box that sits blaring in the corner of every Indian household.
Doordarshan, while it ruled the television world in India, saw the bonding of community as people who did not own a television set headed for the neighbour’s house to watch their favourite shows.
Even today, the channels of Doordarshan are the only channels where people of all age groups can sit and watch together without going red faced at some obscenity. Be it the telecasting of games like Kho-Kho, which the other broadcasters refuse to air due to lack of revenue, or public service programmes for the well being of the common man, Doordarshan still stands in the forefront of quality TV.