Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday expressed concern over “caste, community and cash” gaining prominence in certain sections of public life and said that people of the country expected better performance from the elected representatives in parliament.
Naidu, who gave away the 12th Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, also said that journalism is possible only in an environment of freedom of expression.
Praising Goenka, Naidu said he influenced lakhs of people through his approach and said there was need to have qualities of character, calibre, conduct and capacity, but “these are being replaced with caste, community, cash in certain sections of public life. It is not good for the country.”
His remarks came days after the results to Gujarat assembly in which the BJP accused Congress of running a “casteist” campaign.
Referring to former President Pranab Mukherjee’s emphasis on 3 Ds – debate, discuss and decide – in context of the functioning of legislatures, Naidu, who is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said he would like to add another “D – deliver.”
“People of the country are expecting better performance,” he said, adding that there was need to show that India was a mature democracy.
Terming journalism’s four key standards being accuracy, balance, accountability and separation of news from the editorial and the advertisements, he said: “Journalism is all about conversation of the people and for the people and this is possible in an environment of freedom of expression.”
He stressed that discussion, exchange of ideas and reconciling seemingly irreconcilable differences were fundamental to parliamentary democracy, he said that democracy was “not about numbers but to understand and appreciate each other’s point of view” and asked media to empower people with information, catalyse actions for betterment of lives and promote peace and harmony.
“A soft journalism has emerged which is characterized by three Cs – Crime, Cinema and Cricket. Sensational and yellow journalism is another dark side,” he said.
Noting that the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology has recommended a statutory regulator for both the print and electronic media, Naidu said media should rise to the occasion by ensuring strict and effective self-regulation.
Referring to rapid growth of the media, he said there were over one lakh registered periodicals and over 1,000 TV channels, besides rapidly expanding internet platforms.
“The cumulative annual growth rate of entertainment and media industry during 2011-16 was 17 per cent estimated at $21 billion. We are among the top 15 in this regard.”
Naidu said questions were also being raised over responsibility and priorities of the media.
“Is our media driven by the needs of the society or only by the profit concerns and TRPs? In this competitive, free-for-all media environment, the power of communication is being exercised without responsibility or accountability. This has given a section of the media a bad name and allowed the questions to be raised on its trustworthiness.”
He said many a time hard news is ignored for needless controversies and too much time is spent on trivial issues when “inequality, injustice and ignorance sill impact the lives of millions.”
Naidu, known for poetic use of language, evoked smiles quite a few times during his speech. “The opposition should have its say, the government should have its way at the end of the day,” he said.