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Job Security — Demand of Indian Media employees

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There are numbers of private and government organistaions that claim to fight for the right of the media persons; however, even though these organisations are mushrooming across the nation, the plight of the journalists seems not to be changing at all. More than 47 journalists have been killed in India since 1992, according to data compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an organisation that ‘campaigns for the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal’. These 47 are out 1,305 journalists killed worldwide in the last 26 years — either murdered or killed in crossfire or on dangerous assignments.

There are hundreds of groups and organisations in the world dedicated to improving and extending journalism as a craft, art, and practice. While the mission and the focus of each group varies, every single one believes in improving media for today and tomorrow. Attacks and murders of journalists in India in the last five years have seen a significant rise. In the past three years, the killing of three journalists shook the country and brought the journalistic fraternity in India to demand the safety of journalists. Jagendra Singh in 2015, Rajeev Ranjan in 2016, and most shocking perhaps, was the brutal murder of outspoken journalist and government critic Gauri Lankesh on September 5, 2016, that managed to briefly shock India’s notoriously ambivalent, urban, middle class from their slumber.

Just two months after that, the death of Journalist Sudip Datta Bhowmik was reported at a security facility in Tripura, failed to trigger the same uproar and was a grim reminder of what has become the status quo for journalists across the country. The three journalists reported on politics, crime and corruption and the investigations in each case indicated the involvement of an upset political dispensation.

Indian ranked 14th on the list 18 orders of journalists with impunity from 2008 to 2018. Other nations on the Index include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Iraq, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria. As of 2017, India ranked 136 on the World Press Federation Index, slipping three points from the year before. According to the CPJ, 82 per cent of the 324 journalist murder cases happened on the 14 countries listed on the above Index.

Journalism is the fourth pillar of democracy; India is undoubtedly the largest democracy and to ensure independent media is to ensure its democracy.  However, lobbyism, hierarchy, exploitation at work, dictatorship, corporate interruptions, and uncertainty on job security for Indian media employees have been major deteriorating factors for the media. Moreover, the electronic media employees are unaware of where to reside in for justice.

All India Media Employees Association (AiMea), flowed in 2013, is among the many active organisations which are fighting the professional battle of Indian media employees. It consists of media personnel working in the television, News channels, Production Houses, Radio Channels, Ad Agencies, and Web industry. It claims to have the purpose of raising voice and uniting together against injustice and unfair treatment in the industry. It believes that the grave situation of employee rights in media mostly prevails in the big media houses while on the other hand, the small media houses are struggling to stand strong with either a financial burden or political crushing.

In a conversation with the Afternoon Voice Editor-in-Chief, All India Media Employees Association President Gouraksha Dhotre said, “Employees in the media industry are sacked without justification. Such exploitation at the workplace is a common view in today’s time. In most of the cases, these employees are unaware of the proper window to express their plight. We make full effort to provide them employment again. These ill treatments will never end till the time smaller organisations don’t get united for the cause. Press Club of India fails to pay attention to the small issues.”

Lakhs of employees are now getting into the television and news industry but the confusion still lies on what legal channel is genuine for them! While the Print media has Majithia Aayog, the Electronic Media lacks any such legal forum. The inclusion of third party contacts and discrimination in terms of appraisal process and promotion are another existing bane that deprives the employees of their rights and opportunities. It is observed that hardly any media house follows the obligations of the standard model of the Industrial Disputes Act.

All India Media Employees Association General Secretary Ajay Ghate stated, “Our fight began when we observed that electronic media personnel have no legal platform to fight their professional fights. The labour law is not applicable to us as we are professionals. We couldn’t accept the recommendation made by Central Labour Committee Chairman Kirit Somaiya as it attempted to adjust news media staff in Cine-Workers Act, 1961. Our industry is way different than the cine workers.”

All India Media Employees Association Treasurer Rajendra Dalvi said, Most of the existing media unions are politically influenced. They work for respective political interests but media personnel continues to suffer. Media houses should show some humanity to their employees — they are working 15-20 hours every day, female employees don’t get home drop. Why is it hard to stop hierarchy in media?”




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