November 18, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether the Press Council of India is an effective body. We also look at the expansion of hospitals in Telangana, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Relevance of the Press Council of India
On the occasion of the establishment of the Press Council of India, every year on November 16, National Press Day is observed. We thought it was fitting to take a look at the body and understand its contribution to media as it celebrated its 56th anniversary this year.
Regulating media while ensuring freedom of speech is a tricky task. While having a free press in the nation is essential, curbing hate speech is just as important. In this regard, has the Press Council of India (PCI) done an adequate job? With the rapid transition to digital media and the development of technology, has the body been able to keep up?
First, let’s take a look at the composition of the body. Apart from its chairman, a retired Supreme Court judge, the PCI has 28 members, 20 of whom are freely elected by press organizations. These members include seven working journalists, six editors, six owners, and one representative from a news agency. In addition to these 20, there are five other members of Parliament (three from the Lok Sabha, appointed by the Speaker, and two from the Rajya Sabha, appointed by the Chairman).
The remaining three members are drawn from the Sahitya Academy, the UGC, and the Bar Council of India. As a result, the majority of the PCI’s members come from the journalism industry, and they are democratically elected by press bodies rather than being appointed by a third party. It is, therefore, a form of self-regulation.
The council is governed by the Press Council Act of 1965, from which it also draws its powers. The PCI’s duties include upholding press freedom, setting standards for journalistic ethics, and hearing complaints about the media as a whole or a specific journalist. The PCI decides whether to uphold these allegations, but if it does, it is only able to admonish or censure the complainant—it cannot impose a fine or impose an imprisonment sentence.
VIEW: PCI is essential for press freedom
Democracy depends on press freedom, and press ethics are a crucial component without which the media would lose its soul and heart. Analysis, assessment, and promotion of what constitutes proper conduct and virtue according to the finest principles that are now available are important. As employees of news organizations, journalists have rights, obligations, and standards since, as people, they are bound by general ethical principles like telling the truth and causing the least amount of harm. Journalists have the difficult duty of making sure that they do not develop a biased and prejudiced viewpoint at the source of the news in order to taint it.
The PCI is, therefore, a quasi-judicial regulatory body that ensures the protection of journalists. Due to the advancement of technology, especially in the field of communication, publishing and reporting anything from anywhere has become increasingly easy. In this regard, it is also the responsibility of the body to uphold the integrity of media as a platform for communication between the rule makers and the public. Since the process of the formation of the body is also based on democratic principles, it sets the tone for every media house in the country.
Regulation is an important part of freedom, and the PCI ensures that a balance is maintained. For example, the body stepped in to probe allegations of journalists being harassed in Kashmir in October 2021 amidst the decline in India’s rankings for democracy as well as the free press. The PCI set up a three-member fact-finding committee to investigate the matter. The Press Council has occasionally been successful in resolving issues that threatened to lower the bar for ethical and responsible journalism across India.
COUNTERVIEW: PCI is a toothless body
One might imagine that a council with complete control over media regulation would have a lot of power. Unfortunately, PCI only has the authority to censure and chastise, which is tainted by corruption, sensationalism, and imprecision. Only warning, reprimanding, and censure are the extent of PCI’s power to take action against the offending journal or reporter. More or less, PCI serves as an advisor. It is up to the parties to follow it. Unfortunately, though, many newspapers, including the largest, have disregarded PCI guidelines.
The PCI Act was repealed, and the council was dissolved on January 1st, 1975, during the Emergency. The Prime Minister at the time was Indira Gandhi. The council’s refusal to abide by its “cordiality” statutes with the Centre led the government to declare that it was no longer necessary for this body to exist.
During its three years of exile, the council discovered a crucial lesson: that it is primarily a parliamentary body. Firstly, it was composed of lawmakers, and secondly, it was established by a law passed by the parliament. Naturally, if it wished to continue as a council, Parliament would want it to carry out its wishes.
Currently, the PCI lacks the ability to punish serious wrongdoing, making it a toothless organization. Because they know that the worst case scenario is that they will receive an admonition or censure, neither of which they care about, many press organizations or journalists to whom the PCI serves notice on a complaint opt not even to appear before the PCI. To make matters worse, the body does not have complete jurisdiction over digital media and is in charge of just print media.
- Press Council of India is a toothless body now – The Week
- Press Council Of India: A Critical Analysis – Bharati Law Review
- Press Council of India takes tentative steps towards govt accountability – Media India Group
- National Press Day: A Day Signifying The Importance Of Free Press – Telegraph
- Ethical Journalism- Role of Press Council – Press Council
- PCI: Ageing Watchdog of the Press – News Click
What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) The Press Council of India is an effective body.
b) The Press Council of India is a toothless body.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
Divyakirti and blinkered Hindutvawadis
For the Left:
Why it’s fashionable to denigrate Hinduism: Pathetic ignorance of people like Ramesh Jarkiholi
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Practical training for inmates (Delhi) – The Delhi high court asked the Director General (Prisons) to plan and implement a programme for Tihar prisoners who are pursuing their Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) to complete their practical training. The court was hearing an application for the suspension of a sentence moved by a man found guilty of murder. In a previous hearing, the court said the man needn’t go outside the jail premises to complete his fieldwork.
Why it matters: Prisoners at Tihar jail can pursue their BSW through the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). Part of their course involves completing 26 days of mandatory practical training to complete the first semester. In one of the hearings, the court said the man who filed a petition could complete his training through any NGOs associated with the jail.
NIMS expansion (Telangana) – The state government has announced it will spend ₹1,571 crores on expanding the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS). It currently has 1,800 beds. It’ll have 2,000 additional beds, including 500 ICU beds in 42 wards. The expansion is a part of the state’s plan to add 10,000 beds in super speciality hospitals, including 4,000 in the Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS) and 2,000 in the Warangal speciality hospital.
Why it matters: Due to an increasing number of patients, there was a need for more departments and infrastructure. NIMS currently has more than 30 essential departments, along with academics and research. NIMS is one of the bigger hospitals in the state and sees thousands of inpatients and outpatients. There’s been a long-standing demand for the hospital’s expansion.
Disabled employees demand benefits (Odisha) – Hundreds of differently-abled employees with the state government are yet to be promoted. They allege the Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SSEPD) department hasn’t yet implemented Section 34 of the 2016 Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act. It mandates 4% reservation for persons with benchmark disabilities (PwBDs).
Why it matters: Section 20(3) of the Act states that promotion can’t be denied based on disability. The department announced new resolutions in 2017 and 2021 on reservations for PwBDs but left out the 4% clause. Other states like Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Punjab have implemented the reservation.
First international cruise in 2 years (Goa) – Goa is preparing for a busy tourist season as the first international cruise arrived at the International cruise berth of Mormugao Port. Called Viking Mars, it had 651 passengers and 452 crew members. It’s the first cruise to arrive this tourism season. They were welcomed by the port authority and Goa tourism officials and taxi operators who suffered due to poor business the past two years.
Why it matters: Goa was one of the hardest-hit states over the past couple of years due to the pandemic. Mormugao MLA Sankalp Amonkar said the port of call for cruise ships was important to increase the revenue for the state and generate employment. About 65 domestic and international cruise ships are expected to arrive this season.
Revitalise citizen committees (Assam) – The Assam cabinet has decided to reconstitute the almost defunct police station-level citizens’ committees and asked them to hold review meetings at each station. The government will nominate chairpersons for the committees. The hope is these will help in the timely delivery of citizen-centric services by the police department.
Why it matters: In 1996, the government set up a citizen committee in each police station. The goal was to have a common platform for people to participate in law enforcement. The government wanted to bridge the trust gap between the public and the police. These committees will work with police officials to look into incidents of alleged misbehaviour and other issues like drug abuse and human trafficking.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
$460 billion – A report by Infosys Knowledge Institute stated companies could generate $460 billion in incremental profit if they improve data practices and integrate AI into their business operations.