Editors Guild condemns FIR against Tribune reporter

The Tribune

The Editors Guild of India expressed its concerns on Sunday 7 January 2018 about the FIR registered against reporter Rachna Khaira of The Tribune for exposing the sale of Aadhaar card details for a fee. Raj Chengappa, president, Prakash Dubey, general secretary and Kalyani Shankar, treasurer of the guild said in a joint statement, “The Editors Guild of India is deeply concerned over reports that the deputy director of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had registered an FIR against Rachna Khaira, a reporter of The Tribune, in the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police. The reporter has been booked under IPC sections 419 (punishment for cheating under impersonation), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 471 (using a forged document) and also under sections of the IT Act and the Aadhaar Act.”

On 3 January 2018, Khaira wrote an article in the exposing how the private details of individuals on Aadhaar cards could be bought for a small sum deposited in a payment bank and how an agent could access details if an offer was made. The Editor Guilds statement says, “Using a false identity, Khaira had posed as an interested party and claimed in her report that she had easy access to details that individuals had listed in their Aadhaar cards. The UIDAI in a statement had subsequently denied that any data breach was possible. The Guild condemns UIDAI’s action to have the reporter booked by the police as it is clearly meant to browbeat a journalist whose investigation on the matter was of great public interest.”

The Guild’s statement adds, “It is unfair, unjustified and a direct attack on the freedom of the press. Instead of penalising the reporter, UIDAI should have ordered a thorough internal investigation into the alleged breach and made its findings public. The Guild demands that the concerned Union Ministry intervene and have the cases against the reporter withdrawn apart from conducting an impartial investigation into the matter.”

The Tribune’s editor-in-chief, Harish Khare said the newspaper would take all legal steps to defend its “freedom to undertake serious investigative journalism.” The Chandigarh Press Club in its statement said that the UIDAI’s action of lodging a police complaint against the correspondent amounted to “shooting the messenger . . . Instead of taking action against people who were involved in data breach, the government agency preferred to lodge an FIR against the reporter, who exposed the loopholes in the system,” it said in a statement.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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