From award-winning investigative journalism to strategic initiatives that fight modern-day slavery, the impact and presence of the Thomson Reuters Foundation in India continues to grow.
The world’s under-reported stories
From New Delhi, our award-winning correspondent Nita Bhallaprovides in-depth coverage of human rights abuses, conflicts and disasters, exposing corruption and highlighting the human impact of climate change. In 2013, Nita Bhalla won the Award of Excellence in Human Rights Reporting by the Society of Asian Publishers (SOPA) for her outstanding coverage of women’s rights. Her work was recognized for providing in-depth and powerful insight into the abuses faced by women in India by exploring a variety of issues including human trafficking, acid attacks and honour killings.
Some of Nita's award-winning stories include:
- Trafficked maids to order: The darker side of richer India
- Honour killings, diktats throw spotlight on India's "Taliban" councils
- Disfigured victim’s plea to die exposes India’s acid violence
- India advances, but many women still trapped in dark ages
- Indian prostitute villages marries girls to end flesh trade
Women’s rights polls
Developed and produced with the help of some of the world’s leading gender experts, our perception polls generate international debate by putting human rights at the top of the news agenda.
In 2012, our poll assessing The Best and Worst G20 Countries for Women ranked India as the worst, due to high rates of child infanticide, child marriage, and slavery. The poll received - and continues to receive - widespread media attention, and was used by activists on the ground to trigger debate and to demand social change. Read Bridging the Gap, an editorial by Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO Monique Villa assessing the state of women’s rights in India after the Delhi gang rape.
Free legal assistance
Through TrustLaw, the Foundation’s award-winning service providing free legal assistance to NGOs and social enterprises, we.ve facilitated over 65 pro bono projects across India, ranging from everyday commercial matters to global comparative research programmes.
TrustLaw currently has over 235 members in India, including 185 NGOs and social enterprises and 50 law firms.
In 2012, TrustLaw honoured Indian law firm Luthra & Luthra for its outstanding commitment and enthusiasm for pro bono legal work with the Legal Team of the Year Award.
In 2013, TrustLaw connected India-based NGO SaveLIFE Foundation with Dechert LLP to produce extensive comparative research on ‘Good Samaritan laws’. India has the highest number of road accident deaths in the world, and so-called ‘Good Samaritan laws’ have historically encouraged bystanders to assist those injured on the road for fear of being sued or prosecuted. SaveLIFE Foundation will use the comparative research to advocate for effective ‘Good Samaritan’ legislation in India.
Journalism and media training
We believe free journalism is a pillar of democracy, and for this reason we are deeply committed to journalism excellence. We support it through a number of different initiatives: the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, devoted to innovative and comparative international research; the training of hundreds of journalists around the world; and the creation of news platforms for independent media.
To date, we've trained more than 12,000 journalists in over 110 countries on everything from election reporting to covering health crises and corruption. In India, since 1993, we've held over 20 training courses on topics ranging from business reporting and women’s rights to disaster reporting and climate change.
As a result of our governance reporting training course held in December last year, Shibananda Basu, an Indian journalist for the Statesman newspaper, exposed corruption in Kolkata’s premier state-run hospital. Shibananda used his new skills to examine an audit report and discovered that the hospital was buying medical gas at rates that were much higher than the asking price. The regional government has since launched an investigation into the matter.
Trust Women conference
The Foundation’s annual women’s rights conference is a global movement with one clear mission: to put the full force of the law behind women’s rights, and to take action. 450 global leaders from 40 countries, including India, attended the second annual Trust Women Conference in London, 3-4 December 2013. High-level speakers from India included: Neera Nundy, Partner and Co-Founder, Dasra; Vrinda Grover, lawyer, researcher, human rights and women’s rights activist; and Sukti Dhital, Executive Director and Co-founder, Nazdeek.
The 2013 conference agenda tackled several issues directly affecting women in India, including: a plenary sessions on prosecuting violence against women and the unintended consequences of family planning and health policy; a keynote speech which included an Introduction to ‘Taken’, an undercover investigation into Indian sex slavery; and an action group on fighting forced labour in South Asia.
Delegates committed to 32 actions, including the following on India:
• Raise awareness of human trafficking in India: Photojournalist Hazel Thompson is producing print and audio-video materials for a prevention campaign in India, Nepal and Bangladesh to raise awareness about trafficking and its risks among girls aged between 8 and 16. Shukla Sarwat Siraj from the law firm Sadat Sarwat & Associates in Bangladesh and Wadah Foundation, a Jakarta-based organisation, are supporting Hazel’s action. Hewlett-Packard and the global law firm Baker & McKenzie also committed to screen Hazel’s documentary TAKEN in their offices to raise awareness among their staff on human trafficking.
• The Polaris Project, a leading organisation in the global fight against human trafficking, is launching a network of hotlines offering support and assistance to human trafficking victims. Dasra, India's leading strategic philanthropy foundation; Refuge, the UK national charity that supports victims of gender-based violence including domestic and sexual violence, trafficking, prostitution, stalking, female genital mutilation, ‘honour’-violence and forced marriage; and Tau Investment Management are supporting this initiative.
This is the second in a series that highlights some of the impact we’ve achieved across different regions. Coming up in April: Find out about our impact in China.