Doordarshan has once again established itself as a quintessential public service broadcaster by winning two awards of the prestigious Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (CBA) for the year 2001-02. The CBA Rolls Royce Award for Exceptional News Feature has gone to Doordarshan news capsule on the whale sharks of India - ''Shores of Silence'', made by noted environmental film maker Mike Pandey. CBA''s Public Service Broadcasting Award for the best children programme has been bagged by ''Wings of Hope'', a short film on child rights produced by K. Parimala of Hyderabad Doordarshan Kendra in collaboration with Unicef.
The Commonwealth Broadcasting Awards were presented at Manchester, United Kingdom at the 24th Annual General Conference on May 1 with a theme, ''Innovation in Broadcasting''. More than 300 delegates from over 50 countries including S.Y. Quraishi, Director General of Doordarshan, attended the awards ceremony.
Doordarshan has won Commonwealth Award for the second year in a 2000. Last year, it was given the prestigious Commonwealth Award for its Leprosy Campaign. Says beaming Sudhir Tandon, controller of Programme, Doordarshan, "It''s the fourth international award in two years. In fact, last year, we created a record of sorts by winning three international awards - Best Science Magazine Award in France besides Portuguese and Chinese awards".
For Mike Pandey, the first Asian to win Green Oscars in 1984, the Commonwealth Award has further added to a string of global awards bagged by his film on Whale Shark. In the year 2000, he was awarded Green Oscar. The Hayton International Film Festival Award, Cine Ambiente Award, Sitta Dtorino, Italy Award were among the other half a dozen international awards won by this film.
''Shores of Silence'', was a part of 108-part series made by Pandey in English and Hindi for Doordarshan. The series which focuses on wide range of issues like Aids, Noise Pollution, Wildlife, Water harvesting etc. is currently being rerun on Doordarshan.
The ''Shores of Silence'' is an investigative exposure and an attempt to highlight the plight of whale sharks that were mercilessly killed every year on the shores of Gujarat. The fishermen unaware of Whale Sharks'' endangered status hunted them for exports. Says Pandey, "The aim was to eventually help create polices to ban Whale Shark trade in India and final sustainable alternatives for the local fishing community. The impact was startling. Within three months of the telecast of the news feature, the Indian government banned the killing of Whale Sharks on Indian shores after declaring these as protected species under Wildlife Act 1972. Meanwhile the income of fishermen is being supplemented by promoting shark tourism with the help of Shark Research Institute of USA".
That the film has created international waves is evident from the request made by the President of Taiwan for getting its copy. This assumes significance, as Taiwan is the biggest importer of Shark meat.
Elated over the social impact created by his short film, Pandey, however laments about the lack of platform for the serious documentary makers. "Creative ideas and quality of programming is no constraint for us. We have the best talent but what we lack is the platform. The closure of DD News has come as a big set back to the serious documentary makers as it was a good platform for them", he says.
Attributing the success of his film to its Indian perspective Pandey advocates that Ministry of Education, Environment and Health should join hands to make public information programmes with Indian perspective. He moots the idea of making it mandatory for every TV Channel to earmark a daily 1 - 2 hours of time slot for public interest programming.