1. Recent trends have placed journalism under fire
Context: In the last hundred years, the national Indian media — traditional and now “new” media — has grown exponentially in number and influence. However, with new threats of disinformation emerging and with the COVID-19 crisis revealing that information is actually a lifesaver, education in Journalism is becoming increasingly necessary.
Education in Journalism:
History: In India, the discipline of “Journalism Education” was introduced by British activist Annie Besant in the 1920s, when she launched a course on journalism at the National University at Adyar, Madras.
Current Scenario: There are now about 900 Indian colleges and institutes offering mass communication and journalism programmes.
Need for certified courses in Journalism
Growth in Numbers: In the recent past commercial media and numerous digital journalism platforms have emerged, which has also opened avenues for citizen journalism.
Need for Quality information: UNESCO mandate upholds freedom of the press and the free flow of information. The challenge is to ensure that this flow includes high quality information.
To foster democracy: Citizens cannot exercise and enjoy their citizenship in the absence of crucial information. Professional journalistic standards are essential to bring out the potential of media systems to foster democracy, dialogue and development.
Doubts in Journalism: We see, however, that recent trends have placed journalism under fire. A range of factors are transforming the communications landscape, raising questions about the quality, impact and credibility of journalism.
Various initiatives by UNESCO:
UNESCO set up the Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education in 2014 to leverage lessons learned during our support to African schools of journalism, and apply them in the wider context of our support for journalism education globally.
Development of “new literacies” in response to the challenges of a fast-changing world. They assemble experts to develop syllabi on issues such as climate change, data journalism, science journalism, etc.
Publications: a handbook named, 'Journalism, ‘Fake News’ and Disinformation', which is an issue that we have all become familiar with.
Many of the schools that UNESCO supported over the years have become stronger and acquired a greater capacity to be a strategic part of a global network of journalism schools of excellence.
Many stakeholders must join hands and accelerate efforts. This includes media houses and media training institutions, governments and other partners.
Addressing quality issues and the exploitation of students by some educational institutions. The objective should be to constantly improve the quality of media training, while ensuring access to everyone.
The other pressing concern relates to the dynamic nature of the communication and information technologies that are reshaping the media landscape.
Conclusion: Social media cannot replace the production of proper news journalism, even if they compete very seriously for time and advertising. In this regard, we see the implementation of the National Education Policy, 2020, as an opportunity. It encourages us to make media education holistic, multidisciplinary and inclusive of the latest technological advancements. We must certainly evolve our teaching techniques keeping in view these challenges.
Expected Question: Determine the various elements of Media Ethics. What steps are required to uplift the perceived depreciating quality of media in India? (150 Words)
2. Unilateral legislation without taking States into confidence will see more protests on the streets
Context: Recently, various State governments raised concerns about Central unilateralism in the enactment of critical laws on subjects in the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stated that it is not in the essence of federalism for the Union government to legislate unilaterally, avoiding discussions with the States on the subjects in the Concurrent List.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin raised the issue by calling on other Chief Ministers against the Union government usurping powers under the State and Concurrent Lists.
The Kerala Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a resolution against the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020, while the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed a resolution against the controversial farm laws.
Practice of no consultation with States:
Passage of Farm laws: The laws, essentially related to Entry 14 (agriculture clause) belonging to the State List, were purportedly passed by Parliament citing Entry 33 (trade and commerce clause) in the Concurrent List.
Against Decisions of the Supreme Court: State of Bombay vs F.N. Balsara case says that if an enactment falls within one of the matters assigned to the State List and reconciliation is not possible with any entry in the Concurrent or Union List after employing the doctrine of “pith and substance”, the legislative domain of the State Legislature must prevail.
‘Redundancy of local laws’: When the Major Ports Authorities Act, 2021, was passed by Parliament earlier this year, Goa objected to the law, stating that it would lead to the redundancy of the local laws, including the Goa Town and Country Planning Act, the Goa Municipalities Act, the Goa Panchayat Raj Act, the Goa Land Development and Building Construction Regulations, 2010, and the Goa Land Revenue Code.
Constitution: Non-Major ports are related to Entry 31 of the Concurrent List. According to the Indian Ports Act, 1908, which presently governs the field related to non-major ports, the power to regulate and control the minor ports remained with the State governments.
Transfer of powers related to planning, developing and regulating the non-major ports to the Maritime State Development Council (MSDC), which is overwhelmingly controlled by the Union government. Coastal States like Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have objected to the Bill that proposes to seize the power of the State government with respect to non-major ports.
Electricity amendment Bill: Various States like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have also come forward against the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
Constitution: Electricity is related to Entry 38 of the Concurrent List. The power to regulate the sector was vested with the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs), which were ostensibly manned by individuals appointed by the State government.
Issue of Appointment to SERCs: However, the proposed amendment seeks to change the regulatory regime from head-to-toe with the establishment of a National Selection Committee, dominated by members nominated by the Union government that will make appointments to the SERCs.
Establishment of a Centrally-appointed Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority (ECEA) as the sole authority having jurisdiction over matters regarding the performance of obligations under a contract related to the sale, purchase or transmission of electricity.
Taking away State's power to regulate: This is apart from other proposed changes, including changing the licensing regime to facilitate private sector entry without State government approval.
Cause of concern
Balance of Constitution ignored: The model envisioned in the Government of India Act, 1935, was adopted by the framers of the Constitution and certain subjects were put in the Concurrent List by giving the Union and the State Legislatures concurrent powers regarding them.
Logic Behind Concurrent List: The fields in the Concurrent List were to be of common interest to the Union and the States, and the power to legislate on these subjects to be shared with the Union so that there would be uniformity in law across the country.
Fear of Constituent Assembly member K.T.M. Ahmad Ibrahim Sahib Bahadur: subjects in the Concurrent List being transferred to the Union List over a period of time due to the Union government’s high-handedness.
Way Forward - Various Recommendations in this Regard:
Sarkaria Commission Report:
There should be a “coordination of policy and action in all areas of concurrent or overlapping jurisdiction through a process of mutual consultation and cooperation is, therefore, a prerequisite of smooth and harmonious working of the dual system”.
The Union government, while exercising powers under the Concurrent List, limit itself to the purpose of ensuring uniformity in basic issues of national policy and not more.
The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC), or the Venkatachaliah Commission: individual and collective consultation with the States should be undertaken through the Inter-State Council established under Article 263 of the Constitution.
The SC in S.R. Bommai vs Union of India case: The States are not mere appendages of the Union. The Union government should ensure that the power of the States is not trampled with.
Conclusion: The intention of the framers of the Constitution is to ensure that public welfare is subserved and the key to that lies in listening to stakeholders. The essence of cooperative federalism lies in consultation and dialogue, and unilateral legislation without taking the States into confidence will lead to more protests on the streets.
Expected Question: In the recent times, there has been a tendency towards centralization of the legislative power. What risks does the concept of uniformity poses to the genuine federal interests in this regard? (250 Words)