IJU bats for uniform pensions for scribes

By Our Staff Reporter
ITANAGAR, Jan 13: The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) on Wednesday called for a uniform Working Journalists’ Pension Scheme (WJPS) across India. In its National Executive Meeting (NEC) held at Itanagar which was organised by the Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) in collaboration with Arunachal Press Club (APC), the IJU called upon the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government at the Centre to introduce a uniform WJPS across the country.
“Various State Governments have introduced pension schemes for journalists, such as Arunachal Pradesh-Rs 25,000, the highest amount given, there is Assam and Karnataka which gives Rs 10,000 and Manipur-Rs 8,000 for retired journalists. At same time, Odisha Government has introduced medical coverage of Rs 5 lakh to working journalists and their families in the State” the IJU stated in its resolution.
The largest Indian working journalists' organization further stated that the journalists, who carry out their duties to keep the public informed, are ill-paid and overworked. The working and economic condition of the journalists in semi-urban and rural areas is therefore miserable, it stated. It further urged all 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.
IJU is firm in its opinion that snooping on journalists is not just a breach of their right to privacy like any other citizen, but worse, this compromises their sources, amounting to the stifling of independent and investigative journalism.
It noted that the Government chose not to come clean on the issue and tried to wash its hands off the snooping scandal by suggesting the Pegasus report was to ‘malign the Indian democracy.’ This is far-fetched and unacceptable, it added.
The NEC welcomed the probe ordered by the Supreme Court through the formation of a three-member committee under a retired Supreme Court Judge. While anxiously  awaiting the findings of the report, the NEC expressed hope that the surveillance of journalists will be viewed as yet another form of intimidation of journalists.
Demanding 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 demand comes on the heels of the revelation that a large number of women journalists face hurdles in carrying out their responsibilities as well as skewed policies that impact their promotion prospects. In particular, the NEC demanded that media houses provide maternity leave, child care leave and night transport to women journalists. 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 too as ‘frontline workers’.  It specifically sought to draw New Delhi’s attention to the grim fact that over a hundred journalists across the country have lost their lives this past year, 45 alone in the second wave of the pandemic. It is reported only a few selected states in India have declared journalists as frontline workers.
The NEC reiterated its demand of converting the present Press Council of India into a Media Council with some more statutory powers, so that there is peer supervision over media of all platforms, print, electronic and digital. It also expressed solidarity with Afghan journalists and condemned the sustained attacks on journalists under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It urged the Central Government to provide refuge to Afghan journalists like it has in the past on humanitarian grounds.