Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Thursday constituted a ten-member committee to take a look at the existing guidelines of the Journalists Welfare Scheme (JWS) and make appropriate recommendations for changes.
The Committee headed by Ashok Kumar Tandon, renowned Journalist and Member of Prasar Bharati also includes Sachidanand Murthy, Resident Editor of The Week, Shekhar Aiyar, Freelance Journalist, Amitabh Sinha of News 18, Sishir Kumar Sinha of Business Line, Ravinder Kumar a Special Correspondent in Zee News, Hitesh Shankar, Editor of Panchjanya, Smriti Kak Ramachandran of Hindustan Times, Amit Kumar of Times Now, Vasudha Venugopal of Economic Times and Kanchan Prasad, Additional DG, Press Information Bureau.
The Committee is expected to submit its report within two months. The recommendations would enable the Government to frame guidelines afresh for the benefit of the journalists.
According a Ministry of Information and Broadcasting release, 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’.
“JWS which has been in existence for many years and needed 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,” the release stated.
“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,” it further stated.
The Ministry has taken very proactive steps in recent times 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 with Rs 5 lakh each, the release added.