PM takes note, foreign media’s accreditation path gets smoother

A simple complaint to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a press conference last month has done what months of requests and petitioning could not do.

A Japanese journalist had complained to the Prime Minister — at his high-profile media interaction on May 24 — that it was difficult for foreign journalists working in India to get press accreditation. "There is a big problem getting PIB (Press Information Bureau) accreditation and it took me 20 minutes to get into this venue. Even for covering Parliament it takes six months to get the accreditation," the journalist from Yomiuri Shimbun had said. The PM had then said: "I am very sorry to hear this. I will certainly ask the relevant minister to look into it."

It may be noted that PIB's media accreditation is essential for the foreign media to cover government events.

Within days of this incident, the Prime Minister's Office swung into action. It is learnt that National Security Adviser Shivshanker Menon called a meeting of Home Secretary G K Pillai, Intelligence Bureau chief Rajiv Mathur and top officials from the PMO, Ministry of External Affairs and Information and Broadcasting Ministry and discussed the issue of delays in issuing accreditation to the foreign media.

Sources said the PMO officials were shocked to hear that there were cases where an application was pending for the past 42 months for clearance. "There were over 50 cases which were waiting for clearance, and they have been pending for the time period ranging from two months to 42 months," a PMO source said.

Instructions were issued to clear the backlog of applications and within days, security clearance of the "majority" of these 50-plus applications have been given. Now, the ball rests with the I& B Ministry and the PIB to issue the accreditation cards.

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