Address at the presentation of the Arvind Babu Deshmukh Patrakarita Puraskar
Address by Shri CH Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the presentation of the Arvind Babu Deshmukh Patrakarita Puraskar (Excellence in Journalism) at Darbar Hall, Raj Bhavan at 7 pm on Wednesday 6 April 2016
Shri Devendra Fadnavis, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri M J Akbar, Hon’ble Member of Parliament and eminent journalist, Shri Ranjit Deshmukh, President of the Arvind Babu Deshmukh Pratishthan, Dr Ashish Deshmukh, Hon’ble Member of the Legislative Assembly, Shri Radhakrishna Narvekar, senior journalist and recipient of the Life Time Achievement Award, Shri Shailesh Pande, Shri Abhinandan Thorat, Shri Jawahar Charde, other distinguished personalities, recipients of the Arvind Babu Deshmukh Awards for this year, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen,
सर्व प्रथम आपणा सर्वांचे मी राजभवन येथे हार्दीक स्वागत करतो.
या वर्षापासून अरविंद बाबू देशमुख पत्रकारिता पुरस्कार राज्य स्तरावर देण्यात येणार आहेत ही आनंदाची गोष्ट आहे.
प्रतिष्ठानचे अध्यक्ष श्री रणजीत देशमुख आणि डॉ आशिष देशमुख यांचे मी अभिनंदन करतो.
पुरस्कारासाठी निवड झालेल्या सर्व पत्रकारांचे मी मनःपूर्वक अभिनंदन करतो.
आज येथे, दोन महिला पत्रकार – शर्मिला कलगुटकर व दीप्ती राऊत यांचाही सन्मान झाला. त्यांचे मी विशेष अभिनंदन करतो.
ज्येष्ठ पत्रकार श्री राधाकृष्ण नार्वेकर यांना जीवन गौरव पुरस्कार देण्यात आलेला आहे. त्यांचे देखील मी हृदय पूर्वक अभिनंदन करतो.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
I must say, the Selection Committee has done a remarkable job. They have selected really the best of journalists from the Print and the Electronic Media for the awards. In the process, they have enhanced the stature and the prestige of the Awards. I would like to convey my appreciation to the members of the Selection Jury.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Some time ago, I had come across an interesting definition of journalism.
G K Chesterton in his definition of journalism had said, and I quote:
“Journalism largely consists in saying ‘Lord Jones is dead’ to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.”
From the time Chesterton made the definition 125 years ago, journalism has really come a long way. Journalism has emerged as the Fourth Pillar of Democracy.
Speaking for India, journalists have played a critical role in India’s Independence movement.
Leaders like Raja Ram Mohun Roy, Ishwar Chand Vidyasagar, Mahadeo Govind Ranade, Lokmanya Tilak, Agarkar, Dadabhai Nowrojee, Bipin Chandra Pal, Mahatma Gandhi, Lala Lajpat Rai, Surendranath Bannerjee, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and many others were also journalists. They used the power of their pen to arouse the conscience of the nation and to organize the people in the fight for Swaraj and to free society from social prejudice, casteism, discrimination etc.
Ladies and gentlemen,
If you ask me, what is the biggest achievement of India during the last 69 years since attaining Independence, I will say, democracy and freedom of expression have been our biggest achievement. We have demonstrated to the world that India is the largest democracy in the world, notwithstanding its diversity and complexities.
People may be ideologically committed to any particular -ism, but democracy runs deep in the vein of every Indian. After all, democratic values have been transmitted to our people through thousands of years. Naturally, self-restraint is the culture of our country.
The press in India has played a critical role in upholding and strengthening democracy and preserving the freedom of expression. It has played a pivotal role in the democratic decentralization of government and in strengthening the Panchayati Raj institutions.
Since democracy is about people, it is imperative that the welfare of the people and development remains at the centre of media debate and discussion.
In the last few months, I find that emotional issues and debates on hypothetical questions are taking the centre stage, pushing the real issues and real problems on the backburner.
A considerable debate is going on the so called “growing atmosphere of intolerance and hatred” in India. I do not know how this debate started and who is fomenting it.
India has always been an open and plural society. While Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism were born in this land, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Parsis and others found India to be the most hospitable land to practice their own religion. It is my firm view that intolerance can never be thrust on India. Tolerance and respect for diverse views are inherent in our genes. Nobody can change that.
By and large the thinking of the people of India is similar. By their very nature, our people are tolerant and broad-minded. The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi has often mentioned ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ in his speeches. To my knowledge, no country, whether Christian or Muslim country, has objected to the term Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which means the whole world is like a family.
On the other hand, on a simple request made by our Prime Minister, the United Nations organization declared 21st June as the International Yoga Day, and many countries – irrespective of the religion of their people –observed the Yoga Day with great enthusiasm.
I do feel that media should not give undue importance and space to emotional issues and hypothetical debates. The press must step in and restore the focus on welfare of people and development.
Since this is mostly a gathering of journalists, I would like to mention the name of one journalist. His name was Shoaibullah Khan. He became a martyr on 19th August 1948. Shoaibulla Khan fought for the accession of Hyderabad State with India and he wrote many articles in his newspaper ‘Imroze’. Angered by his writings, the Nizam first chopped off his hands, and later got him killed. I got a stature of Shoaibulla Khan prepared and presented it to journalists in Hyderabad. I wrote the name of the trust started in my mother’s name just below the statue.
As Governor I have a special responsibility in respect of the administration in the Scheduled Areas or tribal areas. I have personally seen the vast disparities existing in the levels of development in the scheduled areas and other areas.
A lot needs to be done to empower our tribals socially, economically and politically. Unfortunately many of these problems do not find adequate space in the mainstream media. I will call upon the media to highlight the livelihood problems of the tribals and other vulnerable communities so that these problems are redressed in a time-bound manner.
Likewise, problems of women, those of the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Other backward communities, physically and mentally challenged, minorities and other vulnerable groups such as unorganized labour, project affected persons and others must be highlighted by the media.
The Marathwada region of Maharashtra is passing through a long spell of acute water scarcity. I want the press to also offer its valuable suggestions to the government to tackle the crisis effectively.
I feel sad when I read reports of attacks on journalists from different parts of the State. We need a strong legislation to protect the journalists and I am happy that the Hon’ble Chief Minister is also serious about bringing a strong legislation for protecting the journalists in the State.
As you know, we have opened the gates of Raj Bhavan for the common people. I would like to assure you that the gates of Raj Bhavan shall always be open for journalists. We want your support and cooperation in improving the lot of our people, in strengthening our democracy and in improving the quality of governance at all levels.
With these words, I congratulate all the recipients of the Arvind Babu Deshmukh Patrakarita Puraskar and convey my appreciation and felicitations to each one of the Awardees. I also convey my appreciation to the Arvind Babu Deshmukh Pratishthan and to Shri Ranjit Deshmukh Ji and Dr Ashish Deshmukh for instituting the awards.
Jai Hind ! Jai Maharashtra !!