Thursday, 1 December 2016

ANALYSIS OF COVERAGE OF CHILD AND WOMEN'S RIGHTS ISSUES IN RAJASTHAN'S NEWSPAPERS


INTRODUCTION:

The monitoring and scan of English and Hindi newspapers published from Jaipur, which was started in September 2016, continued through the entire month of November 2016 with an equal emphasis given to the regional editions of Hindi newspapers of Rajasthan. In addition to the news items of the State Capital and different parts of the State, the news items of national and international significance from New Delhi and other parts of the country were also scanned and analyses. Thus, the daily scan activities comprised the monitoring of news items in Jaipur, State and National segments.
            The whole exercise was taken up in an attempt to understand the trend of coverage of issues related to children and child rights as well as women's rights. A large number of stories appeared in the newspapers in the shape of hard news, features, data, articles, etc. The themes of stories ranged from child labour and child marriage to child abuse, violence against children, discrimination due to caste or economic status, abduction and trafficking of children, malnutrition, right to education, shelter homes, drop-outs from schools and crimes against women.
            An important aspect of the media monitoring is that each day brings with it new aspects of coverage, with the discovery of people benefiting from various initiatives and willing to spread the word about the plans and schemes. The communities can be nurtured in this way, while the contents can be shared with the audience and built upon with the diversified work. In addition to analysis of trends in the society, the frequently asked questions can be answered effectively through regualr monitoring of newspapers.

LIST OF NEWSPAPERS:

For the purpose of this study, the following English and Hindi newspapers published from Jaipur were selected and scanned for publication of news and feature items:
  1. Hindustan Times
  2. The Times of India
  3. DNA
  4. Rajasthan Patrika
  5. Dainik Bhaskar
  6. Dainik Navjyoti
  7. Daily News

Two leading newspapers – Rajasthan Patrika and Dainik Bhaskar – published from the regional centres such as Jodhpur, Udaipur and Kota, were also scanned in order to monitor their news contents generated at the district level. These newspapers gave a detailed coverage to small events which, despite being significant, are often not covered in the newspapers published from the State Capital.


INDICATORS FOR MONITORING OF NEWS:

The news and feature items were scanned in the newspapers to look for the coverage of topics such as child labour, child marriage, physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children, violence against children,  trafficking of children, malnutrition, condition of shelter homes and orphanages, school drop-outs, facilities in schools, awareness on children's issues through organisations such as UNICEF, Save the Children, Action Aid, Plan India and voluntary groups, foetal sex selection and female foeticide, safe motherhood and violence and crimes against women. The specific topics searched in the news items were child abuse/rape/molestation and cases under POCSO Act, foeticide incidents, child protection, child education, child health and care, juvenile justice, child labour, child rescue, child psychology, child laws, right to education, school fee, dropout from schools, child marriage, child rescue homes, child malnutrition, trafficking of children, shelter house/orphanage homes and charitable homes/cradle schemes, midday meals, corporal punishment, street children, newborn death/IMR, girl child death, Beti Bachao/Beti Padhao Abhiyan, abandoned/lost children, sex selection, Aganwadi centres, Janani Surksha Yojana, lack of toilets, women's empowerment and child pronography.

KEY OBSERVATIONS:

JAIPUR / NATIONAL:
  1. The stories from Jaipur and National sections covered in the monitoring and scan exercise were combined during the period under review in the month of November 2016. The clippings of these news and feature stories were collected and submitted on a daily basis, along with the daily scan report. The maximum number of news stories carried in newspapers during the period under study were on child rights and education, such as new platforms being made available to students for career choice and growth and education database of children being uploaded on websites. Crimes against women also made headlines during the period under review, with several instances of sexual assault of women on the pretext of marriage reported from different parts of Rajasthan and other states.
  2. In a significant development, the Supreme Court stepped in to stop female foeticide out of its concern over the declining sex ratio. The Court ordered a number measures on this front, including fast tracking of legal proceedings for effective implementation of law which bans pre-natal diagnostics of the gender of the unborn child.
  3. Among the stories of crimes against girls and women, some of the most horrifying ones were about the girl students in Buldhana, who are afraid of rape cases, threatening suicide if they were forced to go back to schools. In Jaipur, a youth was accused of raping a classmate girl on the pretext of giving life in car. On the other, BJP president Amit Shah was quoted by one story as saying that the respect to women should be publicized as an election issue.
  4. According to a news story, the Union Government has launched a mobile app and web portal for safe motherhood which will enable doctors to reach the residence of pregnant women after monitoring their health online. In a similar vein, the Postal Department organised a cultural competition and sent across messages for saving daughters through short plays.
  5. An article, “Indelible imprints of small feet”, recorded the achievements of child talents in different fields in Jaipur. They included Manan Sood having an excellent general knowledge, Yash Soni who has won several awards in karate, Priyadarshini who has made records in school athletics and Jyoti Lekhra who occupied high rank in the medical entrance examination.
  6. Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar, who visited Jaipur for a day recently, lauded the state for high enrolment in the government-run schools. According to news reports, he said it was a big achievement and the exams for 5th and 8th classes would be made optional for states from the next year. His statement cleared the air of uncertainty on the issue.
  7. An article quoting a study conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM) stated that one in every 10 children in the country is prone to diabetes. India has more than 69 million people living with diabetes. These numbers are alarming in the context of child health and call for immediate changes in lifestyle.
  8. A new education policy proposed by the government could infringe upon the rights of minorities, a host of institutions representing different communities have said, while expressing fear of right-wing ideology replacing secular view in text books, according to a news report. The HRD Ministry had sought suggestions on a proposed education policy from all sections for framing the final document on structure of education.
  9. Pointing to the proactive role of the Rajasthan State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, a news report stated about its directions for disposing of cases on priority. The Commission's Chairman laid emphasis on working for protection of child rights with a high degree of sensitivity and alertness.
  10. Work has begun on construction of small classrooms in 16 government schools in the Walled City of Jaipur. According to a news report, these classrooms will have the facilities of LED screens, computes, CD-DVD players, Internet, LCD projectors, etc., with the emphasis of evolving an understanding between the teachers and students.


RAJASTHAN:
  1. Among the news stories covering the callenges and developments in the field of education in Rajasthan, one story reported that there are as many as 11,500 primary and upper primary schools which are being run by a single teacher. Whenever the teacher goes out on leave or for official work, these schools are locked. The maximum number of 2,000 suc schools are situated in Barmer district. The news story deserves to be taken note of  by the higher authorities in order to set right the situation immediately.
  2. A unique initiative was taken in the schools in Karauli district for protection of child rights with the installation of friendly drop boxes in which the girl students can give their complaints in writing, says a news story. The students can narrate their problems with the assurance to keep their identity secret and their letters will be examined by a three-member committee. The initiative has been aptly titled, Mujhe Kuchh Kahna Hai.
  3. The District Legal Services Authority in Kota took an initiative for raising awareness about child rights and security by observing a week marking friendship with Childline, according to a news report. If there is proper awareness about these rights, there would be no need even for Child Welfare Committees at the district headquarters, said the experts at an event organised on the occasion.
  4. Activists have asked child brides not to consummate marriage till the age of 18 years, says a news report. If the ritual of gauna is delayed, it will improve health standards of girls and enable them to study further. The news report cites a recent data of UNICEF showing that one in six Indian girls begins childbearing between the age of 15 and 19 years.
  5. A news report pointed out the difficulties being faced by students of private schools functioning without recognition from the State Government's Education Department. Even after the lapse of half of the academic session, the future of such children is doubtful. Students from the schools without NOC are likely to be shifted to the government schools.
  6. Rajasthan Elementary Education Council Chairman gives instructions for improving activities of residential hostels, says a news report. This shows the significance attached to the hostel life of students in addition to their education in schools. Various competitive activities were undertaken in different schools, including Shakti Vidya Mandir Schoo in Renwal Manji, to mark the Education Day.
  7. In a disturbing trend of caste identity of students being highlighted in schools, a news report said two groups of students clashed in a school in Udaipur after they were accused of hurling caste-specific abuses. Such a tendency among the children must be discouraged as it would spoil the atmosphere in schools and inculcate among them negative feelings about those who are different than them.
  8. The increasing awareness among students and parents was visible in a news item which reported that they locked main gate of a government scool at Kaleti near Bhinmal in Jalore district over 12 vacancies of teachers. Similarly, girl students demonstrated for thre hours to protest against teacher's vacancy for six months at Yashoda Devi Government Secondary School at Mathania in Jodhpur district. On the other hand, children from the Gujarati Basti in Kota are studying at a Sunday  School started for them. A lodge owner has given a room free of charge to Pooja Agrawal who teaches these children.
  9. According to a news report, an event was organised in Udaipur in which 45,000 children sang Vande Mataram on the banks of Fateh Sagar lake, accompanied by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. Such extracurricular activities for children studying in schools should be organised only if they can devote sufficient time, as they affect their studies and are exploited by the people with vested interests for purposes other than education.
  10. Despite the State Government's tall claims about introducing new technologies and equipment for education, search is on for philanthropists who can donate money purchasing green boards in the schools in Udaipur district. Blackboards have become defunct in these schools and the children are facing lot of difficulties in understanding the subjects taught to them, according to a news report.

UPLOADING ON WEBSITE AND GOOGLE REPORTS:


The news clippings from different newspapers and the daily scan report of news stories are regularly uploaded on the website www.aimec.in for putting these important documents in the public domain in order to spread awareness and generate debates. As the website has a large readership base, this exercise is getting good response. The audience stats report, post stats report and traffic sources report of Google bear testimony to the large viewership of the uploaded material.