Dear Reader,

The screws have been steadily tightening on online news media platforms in India. In the latest turn, the government has decreed that a platform or an intermediary be made culpable if it is deemed to have carried “fake news”.

The decision as to what is fake, and what is not, is entirely in the hands of the Press Information Bureau of the I & B Ministry – an agency that in the past has not been beyond bias in its decisions on what is kosher. The decree, almost predictably, has virtually no safeguards on its misuse. MediaNama traces the five ways that the Centre has, in the recent past, sought to erode the freedom of digital news media.

Last week, the tussle between the Supreme Court and the government reached a flashpoint. The apex court not only reiterated the collegium’s decision on five appointments to the High Courts but, as Supreme Court Observer reports, scathingly questioned the government on the delays in operationalising the decisions. In an unprecedented move, it also outed the Union government’s cited reasons for not accepting some of the recommendations which, the Court said, “had no standing”.

During the pandemic lockdown, significant sections of citizens, mostly the marginalised, for instance, the tribals, were unable to access government programmes and services simply because they did not have the necessary documents to prove their identity. Recently, Kerala’s Wayanad launched a successful campaign to provide basic documents and services -- Aadhaar, ration & elections cards, birth/death certificates, and bank accounts to the tribals. Main Bhi Bharat reports.

And, in Chhattisgarh, a state hit by militancy, abysmal road connectivity and poor access to education, an initiative by the government -- 'portacabin' residential schools -- for tribal children in remote areas is paying dividends, and fuelling aspirations. ThePrint reports from the ground.

For more such stories from the grantees this week, please read on.

With faith in our hearts and the Constitution in our thoughts, let's salute the nation on this 74th Republic Day.


Sunil Rajshekhar

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Five Ways In Which The Indian Government Has Restricted Digital Media

The pressure on digital news media to conform has been growing, including a recent proposal which puts the right of deciding what is fake, and what is not, squarely in the hands of the government. Any transgression will invite punitive pushback. MediaNama analyses ways in which digital media freedoms in India have been steadily curtailed.

Read Here

In Four Resolutions, SC Collegium Strikes Back at Union Government

Supreme Court Observer analyses the tussle unfolding between the Union government and the Supreme Court over the appointment of judges.

Read Here

वायनाड सभी आदिवासियों को बुनियादी दस्तावेज प्रदान करने वाला देश का पहला जिला बना

Main Bhi Bharat reports on the successful campaign in Wayanad, in Kerala, to provide the basic documentation to the tribals in the district by the local administration.

Read Here

In Chhattisgarh, a ‘portacabin’ school helps tribal kids dream — ‘want to be doctor, help my people’

An innovative scheme to provide access to tribal, underprivileged, children in remote areas of Chhattisgarh through ‘portacabin' schools, ThePrint reports, is paying dividends.

Read Here

More from the grantees
Why is Delhi Jal Board Providing Saline Muddy Water To Seemapuri Residents?
The Probe ground reports from the Old Seemapuri area of North East Delhi where the residents claim that they have been forced to consume polluted, saline and muddy water for years now, even as the Delhi government contends otherwise.
Drought Conditions Compel Maharashtra Farmers To Migrate
Mojo Story reports from Marathwada in Maharashtra on how a severe drought is forcing the farmers to migrate. Despite dams and numerous programmes in the region, the farmers’ struggle to get better access to water continues.
जर्जर स्कूल की नहीं हुई अब तक मरम्मत, बच्चों की पढ़ाई ठप
A school in Kishanganj district, in Bihar, is in such a state of disrepair for the last ten years that children have had to trudge long distances to an alternate facility, while the administration and the local leaders plead helplessness. मैं मीडिया reports from the ground.
Tamil Nadu's Vulnerable Beaches
Forty per cent of Tamil Nadu’s more than thousand-kilometre coastline is under threat of erosion, a new study has shown. The Citizen analyses how this ecologically rich coastline is being threatened.

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