Until Independence in 1947, an overwhelming majority of the country’s journalist community was an active participant in the freedom struggle and suffered the same fate as the other freedom-fighters. After Independence, however, the anti-Establishment traditions of the community compelled it to tread a path different from that of the ruling politicians. The contradictions that had developed between the two since the formation of elected provincial governments in 1937 began to sharpen further and journalists found that the time had come to form a trade union organisation of their own. Leading militant journalists, therefore, met at New Delhi in October 1950 and set up the Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ) with M. Chalapathi Rau as President.
In 1952, the IFWJ adopted the Delhi Declaration, which remained the main charter of the journalist community for a long time and led to their successful struggles for the setting up of the first Press Commission, followed by the constitution of the Press Council, the enactment of the Indian Working Journalists (Conditions of Service) Act and acceptance of the wage board machinery to determine the salary structure of the working journalists. Unfortunately, however, a key demand of the Delhi Declaration for delinking the ownership of newspapers from other industries remains unfulfilled because of various disturbing developments in the 1970s in both the national body politic and the journalist movement. While the nation faced the Emergency and the beginnings of the coalition era, the IFWJ suffered a vertical split with the departure of a section of journalists.
The formation of IJU:
These developments came handy to the vested interests who continued to weaken the organisation and its militant unity until a stage came where its leadership was usurped by certain self-serving elements. The militant sections of the community had to wage a long struggle against these usurpers but were compelled in late 1980s to sacrifice the name of the organisation to safeguard the community’s common interests and militant traditions. A large majority of IFWJ members formed the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) in 1989 to carry forward the struggle for the Delhi Declaration. The union was registered by the Registrar of Trade Unions in 1990 under the Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926.
The IJU, thus, is the natural successor to the militant movement of the country’s working journalists and is determined to ensure the continuation of its militant traditions. It held its first Plenum at Ranchi on December 27 to 29, 1991, and has been growing from strength to strength ever since.
The Strength of IJU:
The IJU is the only representative organization of journalists in India. It has its affiliates in almost all the States and Union Territories. The total strength of the IJU is over 23,000 members. Well represented in Central and State Government institutions for journalists, such as the Press Information Bureau (PIB) and Press Accreditation Committees, the IJU has its members in the Press Council of India, too.
The IJU is affiliated to the Indian Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its nominee, Ms. Sabina Inderjit, is an elected member of the IFJ’s executive committee.
Who runs IJU:
The IJU is a democratic organisation and is run in accordance with its unique and all-encompassing Constitution, which requires the organisation to hold a national conference after every two years, which is attended by delegates representing all its members from various States. The delegates include National Council members, who are elected by all members of the affiliated State unions according to a formula for representation to ensure that no section of journalists remains unrepresented. The National Council constitutes the main deliberative body of the IJU during the period between two national conferences. The national conference also elects a National Executive Committee.
The National Executive Committee looks after the day to day affairs and the funds of the Union. The organisation has one President, two Vice Presidents, one Secretary General, four Secretaries, one Treasurer and 13 elected members of the National Executive Committee (NEC). The NEC looks after day to day affairs and the funds of the Union.
The Future is Bright:
The IJU will continue to fight for safeguarding the Freedom of the Press, defeating attacks on Journalists and Free Speech; and work for the welfare of journalists. The IJU has a large pool of talented young journalists, who will continue to uphold the cause and values for which the IJU stands.