PTI management wanted to track journalists’ movements?  Insists GPRS installation in Identity Cards

Is PTI management trying to install a Big Brother who will watch over his wards?

PTI: Is Big Brother watching?
PTI: Is Big Brother watching?

Journalists are considered to be the watchdogs of Democracy. Did India’s premier news agency Press Trust of India (PTI) take this adage at face value and decide to consider tracking their watchdogs (journalists) by installing GPRS in their identity cards? On Monday, a circular issued to all staffers in PTI has created widespread anger and the Left-wing trade unions have decided to fight against the PTI managements decision to track the journalists.

For the past few years, PTI is facing controversies for publishing fake news and bad manpower allocation.

The Fourth Estate is supposed to take up the causes of the first three and ensure that the executive is kept on its toes. It appears as though Big Brother wants to know where the journalists have been 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Surveillance and tracking of scribes is a new low for democracy.

The circular signed by Chief Administrative Officer M R Mishra said that all staffers at PTI’s New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad offices will come under this new tracking system. Their ID cards will have GPRS (General Packet Radio Services) enabled system that will be integrated with a centralized ERP system. The circular said that all should adhere to this by May 25.

“We are in the process of introducing a new centralized attendance management system across all offices of PTI. This will be a GPRS enabled system and integrated with our centralized ERP system. The new system will have a two-fold attendance mechanism in which the employees will have both RFID as also biometric ID. Initially, we will start with six stations – New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad,” said the circular which created panic among staffers.  Many union leaders in PTI said that they are planning to protest against this “uncouth” decision to track the staffers.

“All the staffers are requested to fill in their details in the attached excel sheet, upload their digital photograph and scan the signature electronically and submit the same to the following e-mail Id latest by May 25, 2018 positively :- . Those employees who don’t have an e-mail ID or are not well versed with computer, can collect the hard copy of the forms from their respective Head of Department. After receiving filled in forms from these employees, HoDs will submit the same to CAO office. Forms and sample data are attached for your reference,” said the controversial circular insisting installation of tracking devises in the identity cards of staffers.

Many Employees’ Union leaders say this “atrocious decision” was taken as per the directions of PTI’s Editor-in-Chief Vijay Joshi. The leaders said that they would raise their protests with the PTI Board which consists of media company owners. The current PTI Chairman is Indian Express owner Vivek Goenka and the Vice Chairman is Hindu newspaper’s major former Editor and major shareholder N. Ravi.

For the past few years, PTI is facing controversies for publishing fake news and bad manpower allocation. For more than two decades, the PTI was ruled by M K Razdan and his long service with many extensions had spoiled the seniority and hierarchy in the organization[1]. Majority of the Board members and politicians cutting across party lines supported Razdan’s extensions. Recently Razdan brought in Vijay Joshi as the Editor who mostly worked in South Asian countries for decades, ignoring the seniority of Executive Editor V S Chandrasekar. This is not a brief for anyone. Just a statement of facts. Vijay Joshi was caught by Parliament’s Media accreditation committee for faking his experience in Parliament coverage[2].

Many staffers say the quality of news delivery is deteriorating day by day due to “inexperienced” Joshi’s working style, who still take orders from the retired Razdan. Recently Razdan’s all-time favorite Priyanka Tikoo was installed as Deputy Executive Editor bypassing many senior journalists. “Joshi is only for stop-gap arrangement and he has to leave when Priyanka Tikoo is ready for Editor-in-Chief’s post, say many veterans, pointing out that PTI has already lost many clients due to bad news delivery.

“GPRS-enabled system being introduced to keep track of journalists and other employees across the country. This amounts to putting staffers in chains as if they are in a prison. This new fatwa comes at a time when the quality and quantity of service is deteriorating rapidly. Subscribers are going away. 70 of them so far, includes 2 major groups whose revenue was 2 crore annually. Joshi is unable to manage the situation and now comes with this dubious GPRS installation to create widespread anger inside the organization,” said a veteran PTI staffer.


[1] Mess in Press Trust of India. Who is the next editor at PTI? Jul 23, 2016,

[2] PTI Editor Vijay Joshi caught for making false claims by Lok Sabha. Permanent pass withheldNov 2, 2016,

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  1. I worked at PTI long ago (2000-05). Even then PTI’s was not a workplace where you felt very free.
    It was primarily because it was a pretty top-down and hierarchical organization where anyone tending to be a bit more proactive or creative than is supposed to be was liable to be promptly shown his or her place.
    You could do only what your boss expects you to do, nothing more, nothing less. You were expected always to keep all your seniors in good humour; they were the only factor that mattered when it comes to your promotion.
    The day my batch joined PTI (or a day or two after joining), Top Boss had a session with us; upon being introduced to a Kashmiri among us, he remarked something to the effect: “So you are a Kashmiri. Don’t worry about promotions/transfers. I am a Kashmiri too.”
    We thought then it was said in jest but he seemed subsequently to live up to his word. The woman cited in this article would get a steep promotion upon returning from a year-or-two-long furlough — something I’d never heard of. I knew of no Kashmiri in PTI who was not already in pretty senior position on the desk or in reporting or not getting regular promotions.
    PTI already had swipe cards for entry and exit while I worked there; it seems conditions have since tended progressively towards more control a la “prison”. Once I visited the PTI office for some work several years after resigning from my job there and found it was much more of a controlled place in terms who is allowed entry into the main premises. I don’t remember being allowed entry.


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