Journalists on the radar, Democracy and Impunity Key Global Questions

As a journalist myself, the past one week has been uneasy one. 8 days and 4 brazen incidents of journalists getting killed have disturbed me and plenty others in more ways then one. Besides the political card blame game, the apprehension around the trajectory of the increasing number of murders and its aftermath is perhaps more worthy of contemplation.

Global Dilemma for Journalists, Threat to Accountability

From Sweden to Sudan and then to Bihar and Bangalore in India, terror seems to have permeated the global borders. It all started with the mysterious killing of the Swedish journalist, Kim Wall who died after getting hit by a hatch  on a homemade submarine. The police investigations have reveled that Wall’s body was deliberately weighed down purposefully with the intent to sink it on the submarine.  Then came the news of an American reporter having died in Sudan. Various reports and examinations have bewrayed that Christopher Allen, 26, had been deliberately killed by the government troops in South Sudan during a firefight between rebels and the government forces.

In India, the entire press and media underwent a shock when a renowned journalist named Gauri Lankesh was brutally shot at 7 times at her doorstep in Bangalore. It didn’t end here as the very next day another journalist was killed in Bihar, making it not just a metropolitan but a town problem as well.

Impunitized Investigation?

Not so surprisingly, the World Press Freedom ranking at Reporters Without Borders in its 2017 report put India at the 136th spot out of 192 countries across the world, making India a not so democratic or rather liberal country when it came to freedom exercised by the journalists.

Apart from this, India has been quite aptly placed as one of the countries on the Impunity Index where more than 50 deaths of journalists have taken place since 1992, out of which 25 plus went through impunity.

 

(Source: CPJ, Comittee To Protect Journalists)

India’s poor performance is not just limited to the impunity index, but the authorities continue to be indifferent towards the alarming issue as India fails to participate in something known as the UNESCO ‘Impunity Accountability Mechanism’. Quite conveniently, India, failed to respond to UNESCO when asked for a biennial report on the safety of journalists in the country. My country was joined by 2 other ‘troubled’ countries as well- countries which India would never wish to be compared to with regard to the governmental infrastructure and economic growth- South Sudan and Syria.

Statistical research reveals that out of the percentage of reporters who mysteriously or at times openly die, majority are the ones who deal with the coverage over corruption. In more then 40 % of the cases, victims tend to receive threatening calls, as was in Gauri Lankesh’s case. The recurring question, however is- why just 3% of the cases have full justice out of the total cases filed globally?

While impunity could be one angle, many would feel that such cases reach the public forum because of them being related to the media,  however it is the statistics mentioned above which may compel you to ponder the skeptical way.

(With inputs from PTI, Committee To Protect Journalists, UNESCO)

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Cab/ Taxi rides- Services or Jeopardised Convenience?

By Naina Sharma

GLOBAL PERIL OF CAB DRIVERS 

Incidents of cab drivers acting as assailants, raping or kidnapping passengers is not only common in India but on the foreign land as well. An Uber driver in the city of Florida was recently arrested for indulging in  rape and kidnapping of his female passenger. The driver, who was 57 had centrally locked the car doors even before the passenger tried to jump out.

In similar incidents in India, there have been multiple cases where women have been raped or sexually assaulted by cab drivers. If not that, cab drivers tend to tease passengers by saving their numbers in the contact list and then they end up calling or texting the passengers at odd hours.

The threat isn’t restricted to women alone, quite recently, on July 6, it was a 29-year-old doctor in Delhi who was kidnapped by an Ola driver and his accomplices. He was kept in hiding for a period of 2 weeks post which the police arrested the Ola driver along with other kidnappers.

ANALYSIS OF THE EXISTING PROCEDURES

Since I am a regular rider myself, the curiosity bug within me compelled me to question Ola/ Uber drivers daily about what exactly were the requirements which they had to meet in order to become an Ola/ Uber driver. Ola drivers mostly stated the presence of a driving license as an imperitive while the Uber drivers said it is quite simple to become a Uber driver in the Indian capital. They said that the only requirement essentials for them were their driver license and manageable english speaking skills. There were no background checks involved and a single ID proof along with a few passport sized photographs was more than enough to start driving the Uber cabs.

MANDATORILY STRICTER HIRING PROCESS

The fact that there are hardly any drivers’ licenses which get cancelled in India despite criminal records, there arises a requirement to have a peripheral check. Perhaps, the need of the hour lies in conducting a transparent and multi level hiring process of the cab drivers as a few pointers need to be freshly adhered to-

  • A proper medical checkup analysing the mental state of the applicant is a must as it would ensure minimization of mentally unstable drivers. This is essential since a considerable proportion of rape and molestation cases are triggered through a sick mindset.
  • Examining the habits of the applicant is also essential and if there are even the slightest of implications of him being a frequent drinker or stoner, then the job application must be rejected at the earliest possible instance.
  • A background check which refers to a family scan pertaining to a cross examination of members/ relatives and if there is a police case running against any of their names.

Meanwhile, as passenger safety continues to haunt customers as a key issue, the cab companies have waived off an assurance towards adopting more stringent processes while signing up new drivers as it could have an adversely reverse impact on their business in the longer run.