Have been informed that I will no longer be hosting the BSNL Sports Quiz on Doordarshan Podhigai. Apparently some of my political views are deemed to be unpalatable to a certain political party and so I must not be permitted to host even a Sports Quiz show on a Government controlled channel.
It has been a great privilege and honour for me to have presented the BSNL Sports Quiz ever since 2002.The show went from strength to strength thanks to the unstinted support from you,dear viewers, DD Podhigai and BSNL. We introduced several innovations into Live Television shows in India like Live SMS and E mail contests and were among the first to allow live participation through Skype.We entered the Limca Book of Records as the longest running Quiz show on Indian television and we were quite looking forward to taking the show to its 1000th episode. Last week's episode was the 873rd.
For me personally, the BSNL Sports Quiz is the show that gave me a name and in a way launched me. But more importantly it gave me a large family of well-wishers from all over the world who journeyed with me on the program. Every day of the week I would be on the look out for trivia and interesting stories that could be converted into questions for the show. Every time I traveled I would rush to be back in town in time for the program. It was a consuming passion and the loyalty and fervour with which you followed the show made it all worthwhile. 17 years is a long time and it has given me wonderful memories that I will always cherish. I will miss the BSNL Sports Quiz and it will be a part of me forever.
Over the last 3-4 years there have been multiple and repeated attempts made by those affiliated to or supporters of the BJP to oust me from the program because of me airing my political views on National and regional channels. In 2014-15 the then Director of DDK Chennai, the late Mr.Ramachandra showed me an SMS he had received referring to State office bearers of the BJP asking that I be removed immediately for my political views. He laughed it off and said he intended to do nothing of the sort. Even prior to this there were letters sent to Prasar Bharathi offices seeking my exit. In 2017 one such letter was forwarded from Delhi to the local Kendra asking for an explanation.At that time I wrote a letter explaining my position. This was then sent to Delhi and the matter ended there.
A couple of weeks ago I was again informed that the Local Head of Programs had instructions from an ADG in Bangalore to replace me. I contacted the gentleman and he said he had instructions and that he could not tell me more except that it was not from his Department bosses but from "other sources"."I think you will understand what I mean,"he said. I then contacted the Director General of DD (who I knew earlier from her Tamil Nadu posting days) who said she had no clue of this and assured me that she would sort it out. At this stage last week's episode was permitted to go on air awaiting further instructions from Delhi. Ironically the CEO of Prasar Bharati Shashi Shekar had last week on Twitter liked the Chennai kendra tweet on the show that clearly mentioned my name.
This week I was not even formally informed of the decision to replace me. A note had been issued saying that another person would be hosting the Sports Quiz. Apparently they had instructions from Delhi to do so. Friends of mine in DDK called to tell me this.
Change is the only constant in life. While I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to helm the BSNL Sports Quiz for so many years successfully there comes a time when one has to move on or be forced to move on as in this case.
Time for me to thank each and every one of you for your unstinted and passionate support for the program over so many years. Thanks also to the program production team and so many friends at DD Podhigai who have stood up for me and vocally argued against what they believe is an arbitrary decision.Thanks to BSNL who have been steadfast in their support for the program.
In my political beliefs I have always trodden a Centrist line and supported issues that I believe to be reasonable. I have been one of the few persons to receive bouquets and brickbats from both sides of the political spectrum. I do not believe that the fact that I was speaking my mind on other channels should disqualify me from anchoring a sports quiz program on an ostensibly autonomous but obviously Government controlled channel. Yet that is what has happened.
Over the next few weeks I will keep you all updated on which channel I propose to do a Quiz show.
Whatever happens always happens for the best. It is my belief that something even better is to emerge. Perhaps I should thank the overzealous functionaries of a political party for that.
This article first appeared on Sumanth Raman's official Facebook page. It has not been edited for content or style by Firstpost staff.
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Updated Date: Feb 23, 2019 15:52:27 IST