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Press Freedom in South Asia

A free press and access to accurate, up-to-date information revolving around a country’s affairs and government functions contribute to a society built on transparency and accountability. However, the picture is very different in a lot of South Asian countries today.

The Pioneers Youth Board of Directors endorsed “Press Freedom in South Asia” as the monthly theme for April 2023. The already challenging climate for free media has further deteriorated over the past few years across the region, with four South Asian countries: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka occupying the bottom third of the list in the 2022 World Press Freedom Index.

The challenges faced by South Asian media are innumerable. From the safety of journalists being under serious threat to overt censorship by governments, the South Asian press is constantly being repressed from documenting important information that keeps the citizenry informed and aware.

The Idea Bank and the Department of Creative Engagement (DCE) plan to undertake a joint initiative to address the issue at hand by increasing volunteers' knowledge about Press Freedom and encouraging them to come up with feasible solutions that can be implemented.

South Asian Reformation Council (SARC) by the DCE and the Idea Bank

The SARC was designed to encourage volunteers to take part in discussions based on the monthly theme actively and to formulate solutions creatively and feasibly. This project helps groom the public speaking, solution-oriented thinking, and writing skills of volunteers.

Volunteers will be separated into three fields of study:

  1. The Legal Council will focus on the legal or policy aspects of the project.

  2. The Humanitarian and Social Council will focus on social issues and any matter regarding human rights on a value-oriented level.

  3. Inter-disciplinary Council will focus on discussing the aspects of the topic that are beyond the mandate of the other fields of study. These could range from infrastructural, economic, or even political aspects.

There will also be a separate section for journalism, which will require volunteers to observe the discussions within the above 3 fields of study and write a journal article.

The SARC is comprised of two phases:

Phase I will consist of speeches by every volunteer in each field of study and a session for statements and questions. This will be followed by the drafting of working papers. Within the working papers, volunteers will highlight all of the problems discussed in the previous session and also work on solutions for these problems. Phase I will be concluded following the finalization of all three working papers.

Phase 2 will begin once the three working papers have been combined and an inter-council session has been held. This session will be a combination of all the volunteers from every field of study to discuss the newly formed draft resolution. Representatives from each field will present their section of the working paper and have a session for questions, statements, and even amendments for every section of the working paper. Volunteers are free to speak on any aspect of the draft resolution instead of sticking to the mandate of their respective field of study.

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