The newly elected office bearers of the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ), S.K. Pande and Sujata Madhok have given a joint call for the widest possible National Alliance of Journalists (NAJ) to fight jointly with a national alliance of registered journalists unions- to save journalism for tomorrow, both at the national and Delhi level. They have further called for a united front on common demands to restore dignity to the profession.
They have categorically called for closer relations with plant print unions and with the TV and broadcast media unions. They have also called for the alternative media to fight not merely on wage issues but to join the battle against authoritarian forces and to save freedom of the press. Issue based unity with the working class and even with the clubs has to be established, they said in a joint statement to Newsclick.
Specifically, they called for a Media Council of India to replace the toothless Press Council of India which they said must include websites and alternate media. The call for an autonomous Media Commission of experts to look into the state of the media is also the need of the hour. A joint fight against attempts to gag the press, physical attacks on journalists, and the voices of reason and scientific temper; besides a due new wage board for the entire industry, and fair wages for freelancers and even mofussil correspondents is the need of the hour.
They have demanded an immediate fast track machinery to ensure implementation of the previous wage board and making non-implementation of wage boards a cognisable offense.
A broad democratic and left team has swept the Delhi Union of Journalists’ elections declared on September 2 by the Returning Officer W. Chandrakanth. Eighteen members were declared elected to the Executive Committee including Cecil Victor, Rajendra Kumar, Venkatesh Ramakrishnan, Arvind Shesh, Bhagwati Prasad Dobhal, Kamaljeet Singh, Shivesh Garg, K. Radhakrishanan, Ravindra Tripathi, Swathi Chandrasekharan, Vishnu Nagar, M. Wadood Sajid, Sheikh Manzoor Ahmed, Shaukatullah Khan, Siraj Naqvi, Javed Akhtar, Mohd. Ahmed Kazmi and Suresh Nautiyal.
Twelve members were elected unopposed to the National Council including Bhagwati Prasad Dhobal, Bharat Sharma, Jigeesh A.M, Kamaljeet Singh, Masoom Moradabadi, Rakesh Tiwari, Ram Naresh Sinha, Ravindra Tripathi, Sahiram, S. K. Pande, Sujata Madhok and Vishnu Nagar.
The Delhi Union of Journalists is the oldest journalists’ body in the capital, now, 70 years old. It was born on May Day 1949 and was a pre-cursor to the journalists’ movement in India. It has among its founders and guiders the late M. Chelapathi Rao, freedom fighters like late C. P. Ramachandran, prolific journalist writer the late Shyam Lal, poet writer Fikhr Taunsvi, J. P. Chaturvedi, Atta Raghavan, M. K. Ramamurthy, and more recently Appan Menon, besides of course the old war horse B. R. Vats. It is the only body to have had a Gender Equity Council and one of the few journalist bodies to have a woman president and even earlier, a woman general secretary just after the Emergency. Its first woman secretary was none other than Sujata Madhok, now general secretary for the second term. Incidentally, the body was known for its struggle against the POTA, all the wage boards, the Bihar Press Bill and of course the fight against the Paid News syndrome and communalism in the media. Underground guests who visited the office included the late Faiz Ahmad Faiz when it was like a barrack for years, and it also housed the Newspaper press movement guided by figures like S. Y. Kolhatkar, H. L. Parwana, K. L. Kapoor, Aruna Asif Ali, Subhadra Joshi, and Madan Phadnis, to name a few.