Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has constituted a ten member Committee headed by Shri Ashok Kumar Tandon, renowned Journalist and Member, Prasar Bharati to take a look at the existing guidelines of Journalists Welfare Scheme of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and make appropriate recommendations for changes therein. This decision is considered significant in the light of the several changes that have taken place in the media eco space including the loss of a large number of journalists due to COVID-19 and the broad basing of the definition of the “Working Journalists”.
The Journalists Welfare Scheme which has been in existence for a many years needs a relook from a futuristic perspective and broad basing the coverage for the benefit of the Journalists of this country. With the enactment of Occupational, Safety, Health and Working Condition Code 2020, the definition of the Working Journalists has been broadened to include within its fold those working in both traditional and digital media. Further, it was also considered necessary to look at the possible parity between accredited and non-accredited journalists from the perspective of welfare and availing of benefits under the scheme.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has in recent times taken very pro-active steps for grant of ex-gratia payment to the families of journalists who unfortunately died due to COVID-19 and such assistance has been given in over 100 cases @ Rs.5 lakh each.
The Committee is expected to give its report in a time-bound manner within two months. Its recommendations would enable the Government to frame guidelines afresh for the benefit of the journalists. The Committee headed by Shri Ashok Kumar Tandon includes 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.