The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has decided to constitute a 10 member committee to review the existing guideline of the Journalist Welfare Scheme (JWS).
The Committee, headed by Shri Ashok Kumar Tandon, renowned Journalist and Member, Prasar Bharati, is tasked to closely review the guidelines of the Journalist Welfare scheme and provide appropriate recommendations to update the said scheme.
This decision is noteworthy in light of numerous developments in the media ecosystem, including the loss of a substantial number of journalists as a result of COVID-19 and the broadening of the definition of "Working Journalists."
The Journalist Welfare Scheme has existed for many years and was last modified in 2013. Times and the working of the world and media industry have changed drastically since. This step is towards a more futuristic perspective for the scheme and for broad basing the coverage of the scheme itself, for the benefit of the country’s journalists.
With the enactment of the Occupational, Safety, Health and Working Condition Code 2020, the definition of the “working journalist” also changed. The definition was broadened, to add within its ambit of journalists working in both traditional and digital media. The reconsideration of the welfare scheme was also considered necessary, to look for parity between accredited and non-accredited journalists from the perspective of welfare and benefits being given to them.
In recent times the I & B Ministry took proactive steps towards granting ex-gratia payments to families of journalists who unfortunately lost their lives in the pandemic. Assistance had been given in around 100 cases, to up to Rs 5 lakh. The term of reference of the committee also includes the revising of the quantum of these ex-gratia payments.
The Committee is expected to give their recommendation at the end of 2 months, and all secretarial assistance would be provided by the Press Trust of India (PIB). These recommendations would further guide the government to frame fresh guidelines for the Journalist Welfare Scheme.
The membership to the committee headed by Ashok Kumar Tandon, include, Shri Sachidanand Murthy, Resident Editor, The Week, Shri Shekhar Aiyar, Freelance Journalist, Shri Amitabh Sinha, News 18, Shri Sishir Kumar Sinha, Business Line, Shri Ravinder Kumar, Special Correspondent, Zee News, Shri Hitesh Shankar, Editor, Panchjanya, Ms Smriti Kak Ramachandran, Hindustan Times, Shri Amit Kumar, Times Now, Ms Vasudha Venugopal, Economic Times and Smt. Kanchan Prasad, Addl. DG, Press Information Bureau.
- Supratik Mitra (03/09/21)