I&B Minister Anurag Thakur urge media fraternity in India to remain cautious against narratives that threaten the nation's integrity.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur on Saturday urged the media fraternity in the country to remain cautious and desist from giving its space to narratives that threaten the nation's integrity.
Speaking at a valedictory ceremony of the centenary celebrations of eminent Malayalam daily "Mathrubhumi", in Kochi, as a special guest, Thakur said, “Substandard and illogical opinions, delivered freely from within or abroad, could not destroy the democratic nature of the country.”
However, he added, “I urge the media fraternity to remain cautious and desist from giving its space intentionally or unintentionally to such voices and narratives that have the potential to threaten the integrity of India.”
He said there is a proverb that facts are sacred and opinion is free.
"I want to emphasise here that the democratic nature of our great nation will always remain a fact, no matter how many substandard and illogical opinions are delivered freely from within or abroad," Thakur added.
The I&B Minister further said the new technologies although breaks barriers and gives new opportunities, however he said these technologies lurk "a growing danger of digital colonialism on platforms run by algorithms coded offshore behind the walls of transparency."
"We must remain cautious not to accept anything and everything in the name of innovation and modernity. Foreign publications, companies and organisations with inherent anti-India bias peddling distorted facts must be identified and called out. Here the Indian media which understands the ground reality will have to play a crucial role", Thakur stated.
The I&B Miniter’s comment came in response to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s speech in London in which he claimed that India's democracy was under "brutal attack," besides talking about the controversial BBC documentary on Gujarat riots.
He further said, nowadays the word "democracy" is used frequently in public discourse. Those who have worked tirelessly to undermine democracy and its institutions in our nation have reduced this once-honorable governing principle to a mere fashion statement. He stated, in what appeared to be a dig at the Congress, violators are now posing as victims.
"We must remember that unlike Western countries, democracy is not an artificial implant on India – it is an integral and indestructible part of our civilisational history. The sabhas and samitis that existed in other parts of Bharat Varsha, also existed in what is now known as Kerala. Democracy existed then, it exists now, and it shall exist in the future too".
"But what is amazing is how the 'bhakshak', dressed in white tee-shirt, is trying to project itself as the 'rakshak' of democracy," he said, in an obvious reference to Rahul Gandhi.
Thakur also criticised the Congress for ousting Kerala's Leftist government in 1959.
"Unable to tolerate the fact that the people of Kerala had not voted the ruling party to power, the Government of the time invoked Article 356 of the newly-minted Constitution of India to sack the Left Government. The Congress got away with impunity. It was the first gross misuse of the Constitution", the minister said.
He further alleged that the Congress government thereafter 'abused' Article 356 to sack 93 State governments, striking a series of serious blows to India's democracy while also stifling political diversity and making political disagreements a crime.
Going on to talk about the “significance” of the print medium, especially newspapers, he said, they play a crucial role in maintaining the credibility of news, and claimed that, since colonial times, it have had the ability to influence public opinion and still do.
From Kerala to Kashmir, among the many threads that unite the diverse people of this great nation, possibly the strongest is their belief that India is their motherland – their karmabhumi and punyabhumi, he said.
“The newspaper Kesava Menon founded (Mathrubhumi) is a tribute to this unshakeable belief. Unfortunately, and I mean it literally, there are some who do not believe so. For them, India is not their motherland. They have a fatherland which is a foreign country from where they derive their foreign ideology.”
Referring to the recent incidents of attacks on offices and studios of news organisations, Thakur said such assaults weaken democracy and its institutions.
He also talked about attacks on RSS workers in Kerala.
"It is as outrageous and unacceptable,5 the ceaseless attacks on those who hold a different political view and have strong feelings for their Motherland in Kerala. The brutal attempt to silence them has failed. I pay my humble tribute to those men and women who stood up for their Dharma and whose only fault was that they were associated with the RSS. The attacks on them weaken democracy; their courage, forbearance and steadfastness strengthens democracy", Thakur said.
Thakur further recalled the contribution of late M P Veerendra Kumar, who oversaw the rapid growth of Mathrubhumi.
The programme was inaugurated by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Other dignitaries including the state Leader of the Opposition V D Satheesan, Law Minister P Rajeeve and Revenue Minister P Rajan graced the occasion.
(Source -Deccan Hearald)
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