People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 7

February 22, 2009


DUJ Calls For Secular  And Rational Media

60th Anniversary Celebrations Launched

THE Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) launched the celebration of its 60th anniversary with a well attended seminar on “Indian Press Since Independence: Challenges, Pitfalls And Future Scenario” on February 18, 2009.

Veteran journalists, media analysts, professors from media institutes and TV analysts joined in a critique of the media and broadly supported the call for a unified Watchdog-Media council for the entire media and a Media Commission in the lines of the First and Second Press Commission, to specially look into the state of the media since globalisation, the state of hire and fire and increasing bonds of contract besides issues of jingoistic coverage.

The meeting began with a salute to the founding DUJ members some of whose family members were present and some specially came for the occasion to tumultuous welcome among lighting of diyas.

Speaking on the occasion, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, who also chaired the seminar, lamented: “Surprisingly, the Constituent Assembly did not include the freedom of the press in the Constitution.’ He emphasised the need for such a legislation calling it the “need of the hour.” He castigated contracts of bondage even in 60 years of our Republic and called for a united front to let resistance bloom.

Co-convenor of the Ethics Council of the DUJ Anjali Deshpande and chairperson of the Gender Council of scribes Sujata Madhok called for resistance to trivia, smut and loss of ethics and gender sensitivity. It was pointed out “this union which was born in the lawns of Jantar Mantar, a product of the freedom struggle is the only body to have a functional Media Ethics Council and a Gender Council and called for an all India mobilisation to spread the idea.”

Decrying the lack of commitment of the Indian media, media analyst Ram Sharan Joshi, remarked: “The job of the media is to educate the State about the people and the people about the State which is not happening these days.”

DUJ president S K Pande called for a white paper on the assault on the freedom of the press, in particular contracts of bondage and increasing unfair labour practices leading to total insecurity in what is increasingly becoming a 24x7 profession. ‘Freedom of the Press’ has become freedom of the purse and the press as a mission has become a virtual international bazaar of smut, trivia and feel good, losing its balance in the process. Problems of the dalits and the minorities and even of press persons he said were being censored. He called for a unified Media Council to replace the present Press Council which was toothless and a virtual talk shop for country sight seeing. The need of the hour is to strengthen the Confederation of Newspaper and Newsagency Employees and widen its scope.

He further announced that the DUJ in its 60th year had already launched its campaign and would be taking it to various parts of the country with joint ventures with state unions having functional unions and tie up with press workers bodies and even on common issues with the central and state trade unions. We cannot live in ‘splendid’ isolation, he added expressing solidarity with the workers marching to parliament on the issue of increasing unfair labour practices and contracts.

The meeting passed a draft of the Delhi Declaration expressing concern over various issues pertaining to the press and also announced formation of a DUJ international affairs wing to critically examine India’s relationship with the “super powers” in terms of what was once an independent foreign policy. The meeting called for helping all forms of alternate media striving to bring the press closer to the people and giving journalists and press workers a fair deal.

Dr Bhaskara Rao, chairman of the Centre for Media Studies said more research is required to inform policies regarding the media.

Obaid Siddiqui of the Jamia Milia Islamia stressed the need for diversity in media coverage. Siddiqui said that exhaustive training courses are required to train professionals in multi media coverage of news and other events.

The meeting unanimously resolved to have a C P Ramachandran Memorial Corner, honouring a veteran freedom fighter and DUJ member who staunchly opposed the emergency. It also resolved to have a special forum for Young Journalists and a media monitor group for building up a scientific temper and a secular media.