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SPARK OF THE CORPORATE

Doordarshan has a tint of nostalgia to anybody who has grown up in 90s. The story of All India Radio is no different. However, it couldn't keep up with the pace of private players in the market and lost itself somewhere in the midst. Here is digital media expert bringing in the missing pieces and putting the public broadcaster back on the world map to revive Doordarshan’s viewership and AIR's listeners.

Shashi Shekhar Vempati, is the Chief Executive Officer of the public broadcaster group, Prasar Bharati. Shashi, the first non-Indian Administrative Service officer to head the public broadcaster, is probably one of the youngest CEOs to lead the Prasar Bharati and the first private sector executives to be awarded with the top post in the public broadcasting firm. A technocrat, innovator, speaker, author and commentator, technology and media management are his forte. With close to two decades of experiences with Infosys and having headed an online media platform, he has rich experience in the Digital Media space. With Doordarshan and All India Radio lagging behind in the digital front, his topmost priority is to transform them in order to fit and thrive in this digital age.

An IIT Bombay alumnus, this media and tech professional holds two patents ‘Real Time Business Event Monitoring, Tracking and Execution Architecture’ and ‘System and method for monitoring and management of inventory of products and assets in real time’ under his name.

Early career...

Shashi Shekhar Vempati started his career in 1995 as an Engineer – Trainee in Engineers Limited India. He was the only one from his IIT batch who decided to stay back in India. There was just one email id for the entire office when he joined. He set up the website and internet for the company. His alliance with the digital world started back in the 1990s.

With the tech giant...

Shashi Shekhar Vempati moved to IT major Infosys in 1997 and quickly advanced through different leadership roles. The technocrat worked with Infosys for close to two decades with specialisation in areas of corporate management, technology consulting and digital media. Demonstrating talent, potential and productivity, he was in the limelight right from the beginning. At Infosys, he was initially the Lead for several technology innovation and incubation initiatives in the areas of mobility and RFID. He has been a key member of some core projects like Infosys Wireless Spin-off OnMobile Inc and the Infosys Digital Innovation – ShoppingTrip360.

As a Digital Strategist and Innovator for Infosys Limited in North America, Shashi has worked closely with Fortune 500 clients across a wide span of industries from retail to mobile to digital information service to energy to communication and so on. He has also lead the RFID Solution Strategy and Development at Infosys and has participated in EPCGlobal Inc.

Over the years with Infosys, Shashi became an internationally known resource in the innovation and development of wireless technologies to create business value. As an RFID Thought Leader at Infosys, he was very active in conducting one day Executive workshops on RFID Value Assessment and an Executive RFID Summit for North American Railroads.

Shifting gears to media...

After working with the IT giant for 16 years, Shashi Shekhar Vempati went on to serve as Chief Digital Officer of the digital media and digital campaigns startup, Niti Digital, and later as it's CEO til it was shut down in 2016.

At Niti Digital, Shashi was responsible for the News Media Platform NitiCentral.com - India's first Center Right Digital News Media Platform, the Data and Analytics Platform IndiaVotes.com - India's largest public database of electoral data and the Digital Campaign Platform India272.com.

Prasar Bharati...

Shashi Shekhar Vempati has been with India's national broadcaster, Prasar Bharati as a part time member of the board since February 2016. He was the Chairman of Audit Committee, Member of Finance and Accounts Committee, Technology Committee, Sports Rights Committee and HR Committee and has provided strategic direction to the committees.

Breaking the norm of appointing former bureaucrats, this young technocrat was elevated to the post of chief executive officer of Prasar Bharati, which runs both Doordarshan and All India Radio in June 2017 for a contract period of 5 years. His top priority after taking charge was to set it free from the clutches of being a poorly organised government organisations and convert it to work like modern, 21st century media organisation, putting his private sector experience into play. Since then, Doordarshan has been going through a overhaul by introducing new programs, repackaging existing channels, revamping the official websites, focusing on monetising the digital content and developing a roadmap for the organisation.

Overcoming the challenges...

There were many challenges on multiple fronts at Prasar Bharati – outdated technology, employees who have not seen promotion in ages, lack of fresh intake, ageing workforce. The first step Shashi took was learn, listen and understand the challenges. He is addressing the challenges - IT systems, logistics, state of the art systems, HR - one at a time through putting in place a manpower audit, launching a global digital platform etc. It has shut down its existing analogue system of terrestrial transmission in 19 cities to migrate to digital mode completely. There is also a plan to redesign the iconic logo of Doordarshan since 1959 to something youthful, for which invitations have been sought.

Rajya Sabha TV...

Shashi was given the additional charge of Rajya Sabha TV, the Parliamentary Channel of India as its CEO and Editor-in-Chief.

Speaker, writer, commentator, innovator...

Shashi Shekhar Vempati has been a regular speaker at the tech conferences from the Chief Customer Officer Forum to the Big Data in Governance seminar and has also been interviewed by the RFID Journal. He has been vocal on Social Media in Digital Campaigning, Digital Ecosystems, RFID and Wireless Sensor based Applications and on the impact of Mobility and Wireless on Modern Enterprises. He has addressed the IAS Middle Level Career cohort in 2015 at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration on use of Social Media in Policy Making.

Shashi has authored many books like “Broadcasting Technologies in India”, “National Digital Security Architecture in India”, “Creating a Global Media Platform out of India” among others and a comprehensive paper on why India needs to wake up to the Artificial Intelligence Revolution. He is also a regular columnist on transforming Public Broadcasting in India and a commentator on politics and public policy in India.

Shashi Shekhar has also played an instrumental role in the innovative use of Digital Technologies in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mission 272+ during the General Elections 2014 and was awarded for the digital innovations that were used to effectively engage with citizens and volunteers across the country.

Associations and memberships...

Head, Media Centre for the International Film Festival of India (IFFI)-2017

Awards and accolades...

Won the Dataquest Pathbreaker Award for Innovation 2014 on behalf of PM Narendra Modi’s Digital Campaign for 2014 elections
Won the Rookie of the Year award in 1997 as the best performing new employee within the Telecom Software Business Unit of Infosys
Four times won the Infosys Annual Awards of Excellence for Innovation and IP Creation
A guest speaker at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held at Hyderabad in 2017

Quotes

We are a billion people democracy and this democracy deserves a global voice that reflects the aspirations of our youth. That is a role that a national broadcaster can play.
When I look at the impact of a public broadcaster in the news space, I want to build a strong global voice. I won’t get caught in the domestic competition between various private channels.
We should imagine a future India that emerges as a global hub for creativity in the creative economy of the world and work towards it.
The role of a national broadcaster is very critical in this era where you have a pressing debate over fake news, false narratives. There has to be one place where people of India can go to and know that they will always get the most trustworthy, credible version of what happened.

Hope readers caught up the spark …

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