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IJU calls for uniformed working journalists’ pension scheme across India

The country's largest working journalists organisation stated that the journalists, who carry out their duties to keep the public informed, are ill-paid and an overworked lot.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated on 14 Jan 2022, 12:16 pm

Representational Image (PHOTO: IFP)

Representational Image (PHOTO: IFP)

The Indian Journalists Union (IJU), in its National Executive Meeting (NEC), which was organised by the Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) in collaboration with Arunachal Press Club (APC) at Itanagar on Wednesday, called upon the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at centre to introduce a uniformed a uniformed Working Journalists’ Pension Scheme (WJPS) across the country.

“The various state governments have introduced pension schemes for journalists, such as Arunachal Pradesh - Rs 25,000, the highest amount given and there are Assam and Karnataka giving Rs 10,000, and Manipur Rs 8,000 for retired journalists. At the same time, the Odisha government has introduced Medical Coverage of Rs. 5 lakhs to working journalists and their families in the State,” the IJU stated in its resolution.

The country's largest working journalists organisation stated that the journalists, who carry out their duties to keep the public informed, are ill-paid and an overworked lot.  The working and economic condition of the journalists in semi-urban and rural areas is therefore miserable, it mentioned. IJU further urged all the state governments, which are yet to implement pension schemes for journalists, to immediately take steps to introduce it for all working journalists, irrespective of accreditation.

The IJU also expressed grave concern over the surveillance of at least 40 journalists, among 300 others, including Opposition leaders, ministers, constitutional authorities, activists, through hacking of their phones by Israeli Pegasus spyware.

It is of firm opinion that snooping on journalists, is not just a breach of their right to privacy like any other citizen, but worse compromises their sources, amounting to stifling independent and investigative journalism, IJU stated.  

The government choosing not to come clean on the issue and trying to wash its hands off the snooping scandal by suggesting the Pegasus report was to ‘malign the Indian democracy,’ it further stated, adding this is far-fetched and unacceptable.

The NEC welcomed the probe ordered by the Supreme Court by formation of a three-member committee under a retired Supreme Court judge. While the NEC anxiously awaits the findings of the report, it hopes that the surveillance of journalists is viewed as yet another form of intimidation of journalists, particularly those critical of its governance, it stated.

Demanding for better and safer working atmosphere for women employees in media houses, IJU NEC demanded the government to make every effort that its guidelines for better and safer working conditions for women are adhered to by institutions and that the sexual harassment policy is endorsed by media houses.

This is sought as it has come to light that large numbers of women journalists are facing hurdles in carrying out their responsibilities as well skewed policies are impacting their promotion prospects, it stated. In particular, the NEC demands that media houses provide maternity leave, child care leave and night transport to women journalists, it mentioned. At the same time, the NEC called upon all media houses to have in place the mandated Internal Complaints Committee’s to entertain sexual harassment cases and give justice to the victims.

The NEC at Itanagar urged upon the Central government to declare the journalists as ‘frontline workers’.  It specifically sought to draw New Delhi’s attention to the grim fact that over hundred journalists across the country have lost their lives this past year, 45 alone in the second wave of the pandemic. It is reported that only a few selected states in India have declared journalists as frontline workers, it further stated.

The NEC reiterated its demand that the present Press Council of India be converted into a Media Council with some more statutory powers, so that there is peer supervision over the media of all platforms, print, electronic and digital.

It also expressed solidarity with Afghan journalists and condemned the sustained attacks on journalists under Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It urged the Central government to provide refuge to Afghan journalists like it did in the past on humanitarian grounds.

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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