Media Houses Have Bigger Social Responsibility To Inform People About Facts : C. Srikumar, National Secretary of AITUC

Massive rally by government employees at Ramleela Maidan in New Delhi went unreported, laments the veteran union leader


Government Employees are very much upset with the Media both Electronic and print media. Their complaint is that recently two big rallies were organized by the Government employees at Ramleela Maidan, New Delhi protesting against the Non-Guarantee Pension Scheme popularly called as NPS and demanding for restoration of the Old Pension Scheme. One rally was organized by the JFROPS and the other one by the NMOPS. In both the rallies lakhs of Central Government and State Government Employees including Railways, Defence, Postal, and teachers participated.

In the recent past Ramleela Maidan has not seen such a huge crowd and all of them all the way came to Delhi with a single point demand for restoration of the defined and guaranteed old pension scheme. Even pregnant women employees and women employees with babies also attended both the rallies. However, none of the leading newspapers or TV News Channels covered the news item of this rally. Disappointed with this approach of the Media houses towards the Government Employees, some of the government employee organization have announced that hereafter, they will not purchase any news paper as a protest.

C. Srikumar, General Secretary of AIDEF and national Secretary of AITUC said that Article 19 of the Indian Constitution guarantees freedom to the citizen of the country. There are Freedom of expression, Freedom of Association and Trade Unions, Freedom of Cooperatives, Freedom of Movement, Housing Freedom and Freedom of work. Freedom of Press/Media is very muchessential for the effective functioning of a democratic society, because it is through the Media and press the citizens can access the accurate and diverse information. Infact media is the public watch dog, activtists and guardian as well as the educator for the common man of the country. Press freedom is a major pillar in any democratic society.

Recently at a function the Chief Justice of India, stated that Press must remain free if a country is to remain democracy, a functional and healthy democracy must encourage the development of journalism as an institution that can ask difficult question to the establishment. Unfortunately, today anybody questioning the establishment is subjected to attack and harassment. After all what is a news paper. It is a universally accepted fact that News paper has a wider social responsibility. It is expected to inform its readers about the facts, about what is happening in and around the country and the world. It should be an effective mechanism of communication and its aim should not be to earn profit and to satisfy its clients who are placing huge advertisements on them.

The entire working class of the country which is more than 50 crores of the total population is not doubt upset and anger with the media. Their problems, their issues and their difficulties are not being published in the News papers. Even press releases issued by the Trade Unions including the Central Trade Unions and national Federations are completely ignored. When AIDEF was sitting on a relay hunger strike for 37 days continuously at Jantar mantar New Delhi against the Government policies of privatization and Corporatisation in the Defence Sector, reporters from all the TV channels and National Dailies used to visit our Hunger Strike Tent and has taken interview of myself and our president S. N. Pathak. But none of the TV Channels and News papers have given any coverage during all these 37 days. When we asked the reporters they told that they are sincerely submitting the reports to their Editorial Board and their decisions are taken not to publish any news about our hunger strike.

The Government employees including around 30 lakh Central Government employees and about a crore state government employees are relentlessly fighting for scrapping the contributory pension scheme of NPS and to restore the Defined and guaranteed old pension scheme. However none of the national media and the News papers gives any importance to this agitation. However adverse news against the government employees are published without even verifying the facts. It was the government employees in all the sectors who worked day and night during the covid-19 pandemic when the private sector was not at all in picture. Thousands of government employees died due to covid-19 infection, but all these facts were blacked out.

We, the AIDEF and other Federations protested against the failed decision of the Government in corporatizing the Ordnance Factories. We have written to the Defence Minister pointing out the failures of the 7 Ordnance Factory corporations, which we have released to the press. Barring few online journals like, no media house has given any coverage about the agitation of the Defence Civilian Employees.

Today’s anger of the government employees especially against the print media is not a an affair of one day. Over a period of time the government employees have come to the conclusion that they don’t get any support from the media on their issues and problems and they don’t recognize the odd conditions under which the government employees in the Railways, defence and other sectors are working. Therefore, there is nothing wrong if the government employees decides to boycott the newspapers and the media channels.

It is for the media houses to introspect that whether they are doing justice to their profession. Time has now come for them to change this attitude and approach towards the workforce of this country. They should dispassionately report about the agitations and the programmes of the workers. They come to the street only when the governments, both in the centre and state refuse listen to them. Therefore, I as a senior Trade Union worker appeal to all the Media houses that the ethics of the profession may be maintained and be dispassionate towards the workforce of this country, which plays a major role in the economical development of the country and also in serving the people of the country.

Views expressed here are those of C. Srikumar, a veteran trade union leader who is also the General Secretary of AIDEF and National Secretary of AITUC

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