A speaker addresses participants during the workshop for journalists and media professionals at a city hotel in Ranchi on Monday. Picture by Manik Bose
Ranchi, June 2: MPs and MLAs should now become more accountable and prepared to face more “uncomfortable” questions.
Journalists were taught ways of “tracking the activities of MPs and MLAs” at a workshop jointly organised by the Manthan Yuva Sansthan and Delhi-based PRS Legislative Research.
M.R. Madhavan from the Delhi-based group gave tips to journalists.
“The Parliament website lists details as intricate as the attendance of each MP in a session, the amenities given to them, the funds allocated each year, the utilisation of those funds and more such information. But journalists are not aware of the site. This workshop aims to teach them several such matters,” Madhavan said.
He added that if sites are used effectively then reporting would become much more accurate and our representatives would have to become more accountable.
These websites also state the kind of questions put up in the Parliament as well as the state legislative bodies and how those in power tackle them.
Abhay Kumar, the co-ordinator of Manthan, said: “We tried to involve journalists working at the district-level as MPs and MLAs can be best examined from their work at the lowest rung. Also, the vernacular press needs to be made aware of the existing facilities on the internet, which is accessible to all.”
Chakshu Roy, also a representative of PRS Legislative Research, said several prejudices exist about journalism as a profession.
“One such is that of Parliamentary reporting. We have a convention that a journalist can’t report on the Parliament without at least five years of experience. But the irony of the situation is that the same person is considered efficient enough to report robberies, murders and various other serious issues,” he said.
Election affidavits, which have to be filed by MPs, can be accessed on election sites that publish details of their assets, liabilities and criminal cases. If such sites are used regularly by the press then it can really turn tables during the elections.
Participants at the workshop showed interest and some even admitted not knowing about the sites. Those who were aware of the sites were surprised to learn that attendance has been added as a new feature.
The PRS also has its own website where various legislative activities like the list of bills introduced and CAG reports are available.
Apart from political websites, the Right to Information (RTI) Act was also discussed at length.