- Gujarat government always encourage the media to grow and prosper.
- In today’s competition world it becomes important to provide correct and truthful news to people.
- If people are not allowed to speak their mind out or criticise, the system of democracy will start to stink like a pool of stagnant water.
- In a democratic set up, it is the duty of the fourth estate to compel the ruling government to be firm towards carrying its responsibilities dutifully.
- For the betterment of the state, development within a democratic setup is required.
Warm greetings to all the organizer friends, ladies & gentlemen! When someone talks about democracy, the first thing that comes to mind is the power that lies in the hands of the people at large in a democratic set up. This is where the beauty of democracy lies. The state government time and again is attacked by its enemies via newspapers and try to defame Gujarat government. Still the government of Gujarat encourages print media to grow and prosper.
Manojbhai Mistry was a friend earlier who now has gone on to become a guardian. Previously, he was ‘Gujarat Mitra’, now he has become ‘Gujarat Guardian’! You don’t have to stop here. Keep up with your work brother! Earlier a devotee of Goddess Saraswati, Manojbhai Mistry has now become a devotee of Goddess Laxmi. He was formerly an editor and has now become a businessman. He is the Managing Director of Gujarat Guardian. His years of past experience will be utilised now. He is a known personality in Surat. There is a perfect synergy and when there is chemistry between two things, the flow becomes smooth automatically.
Friends! To gain access to news is not a difficult task these days. You can get to know what’s happening in the world around in no time and that too sitting at one place. There was a time when people used to search for news. It was difficult to receive as well as send news to far-off places. People earlier would eat snacks wrapped up in a newspaper and later read news from the same newspaper. This was the scenario earlier as there used to be no source available other than newspaper. But today the scene is entirely different as you can access any information within minutes. Coming up with news these days might not be a time-consuming activity, but what might consume a lot of time is building credibility and reliability as it is the only thing that will secure a place for you in the future.
In a way, it is a challenging job for the news media as on one hand they have to earn credibility and on the other hand, they have to come up with the news ahead of everyone else. In today’s competition world it becomes important to provide correct and truthful news to people.
Friends, our former President, Shri Abdul Kalam always encourage people from print media to actively participate in the development process of the country. During his tenure, Shri Abdul Kalam arranged for meetings with the media people and asked them to start publishing feel-good and positive news stories. As what is observed otherwise is that the moment you start reading a newspaper, by the time you come to reading the fifth or sixth story, you realise that the page is full of crime stories or stories with negative tone. Similar is the case with television. If you are viewing television for some time, you will realise within 15 minutes, that all you have been looking at is violence. I think there is enough negativity around and so we need to come up with things that are feel-good in nature.
There is a conception that positive news doesn’t sell much and that people are more interested in news with negativity. And this has given rise to a competition where media houses are fighting to race ahead of each other in selling more number of negative news. Journalists have to strive to get stories that put any system or a person in question, in a negative light. Friends, more often than not we come across incidences in our daily life, that media is doesn’t get to report on. Say for example, there is a story about a pickpocket stealing money and another story where a rickshaw driver returns a wallet left by some passenger in his rickshaw. I am sure people will read and like the rickshaw driver’s story and not the first. This indicates at the fact that people always look for positivity around and long to listen to comforting news.
Ladies and gentlemen! In a democratic set up, it is the duty of the fourth estate to compel the ruling government to be firm towards carrying its responsibilities dutifully. It is the job of the fourth estate to help raise people’s voice and make them heard. However, this requires a lot of study. If people are not allowed to speak their mind out or criticise, the system of democracy will start to stink like a pool of stagnant water. The system will be cleaned of its impurities, if people in power accept criticism by media or any agency or for that matter a common man and later work towards rectifying the mistakes. Unfortunately in our country, after scanning through papers and browsing through television channels, it is possible that you might not come across any piece of criticism of the government. Instead what you will come across more often is allegations and accusations, and charges against one another. Newspapers these days, it seems, publish only allegations. You should not hesitate from criticising anyone, but for doing that you should have conducted a study first on the basis of which you can accuse or lay blame on anyone. Once the findings about a person are found to be valid, the defaulter cannot get away with. But friends the question here is who wants to take the pain to conduct a study, put in hard work and draw a conclusion? People these days want to take shortcuts in life.
Nowadays, ‘Newspapers’ have become ‘Thought Papers’. You require art to read newspaper these days. For example, if any government declares budget, what can be the news in it? The news is “government has declared a Rs6,000 crore budget”. But what is flashed on television screens or published in newspapers is a different picture altogether? ‘Modi Government’s Backbreaking Budget’! Now this piece of news is published in a paper which is a ‘thought paper’. The original news in ‘thought paper’ is lost. There is an entire ‘editor’s page’ for the editor to express his views. The editor has one entire page to write editorials. There can be a difference of 180 degree between front page news and edit page news because while writing editorials, an editor is free to put across his views completely. But, I would say that news should not be tinkered with and should be left as it is! If an accident has happened, the news should say “25-year-old boy run over by a car”. But what newspapers publish these days is “An affluent Brahmin boy crushed a Dalit boy”. I would say this is no news and reading a newspaper these days thus requires skills. Here is a similar example but from electronic media. An interview of a personality is aired on a channel. In the beginning, the interviewee is shown on the screen as the interview is conducted, but gradually what is flashed on screen time and again round the clock on the channel is what the anchor has interpreted from the interviewee’s statement. The fact is what the person had said during the interview is nowhere to be seen on the screen. So things revolve around the whims and fancies of the channel authorities. What the interviewee had actually spoken is lost somewhere. And if you find the original piece on the internet, you will notice that there is no connection between what the leader actually spoke and what is being aired on the television channel.
Friends, I know this is again going to create a lot of controversies! I know my enemies would be waiting for a chance to defame me, but friends, I would say I don’t have any malice for anybody and there is no personal criticism. For the betterment of the state, development within a democratic setup is required.
Friends, India got freedom and that also gave media the power of self-expression. But in 1975, emergency was declared by the government of India— the largest democracy of the world. Several great leaders of India including Jayprakash Narayan and Morarji Desai were sent behind the bars. Ban was put on organizations like RSS. However, the atrocities didn’t stop there as the print media of the country was strangled and restrictions were imposed on it too. People and particularly people from the media during the time of emergency, were subjected to cruelties and injustice. Democracy had come under serious threat. For 19 months no one except a few dared to speak their mind out. Friends! It was then that we got to know the real face of Indian democracy.
Friends, Mahatma Gandhi too used to write for newspapers and the editorials, he wrote in Gujarati, would be then discussed in the houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom. The British Empire would get to know India through Mahatma Gandhi’s editorials. Friends, Subash Babu after leaving India, formed Azad Hind Fauz to fight back the British government. Now this piece of news was made available to the world for the first time by a journalist named Amritlal Sheth, who used to work for a Gujarati newspaper. Amritlal Sheth went to Singapore to get the news and informed the world about the same. The news got published in a Gujarati newspaper for the first time. Such is the history of our state. What a great heritage we have. Still today, we will find people reading Bhagwati Kumar Sharma’s editorials not only in Surat but in other districts of the Gujarat too. Such people deserve salutations and felicitations as they are the ones who in real sense think of the welfare of the society. No matter how powerful the people in government are, there still exist journalists like Sharma, who are asset to the society.
I remember once I was asked to go to London for the launch of a paper. At the launch, while I addressed the audience, I made a statement. People couldn’t understand the meaning of the statement. Based on the statement I made, a newspaper published from Calcutta came up with three editorials stating how Modi could make a statement thing like this? They wrote editorials based on whatever they understood…they didn’t care to read the remaining part of the statement. The statement I had made was “Whether journalism should be like a fly of a honeybee?” I had raised a question. Those who wanted to criticise said “Modi called journalism a fly…” it seemed nobody had understood the second part of the statement. From the statement I was explaining about nature of a fly that sits on filth and spread it. It picks up filth and flies around. On the other hand what a bee does? It sits on a flower and spreads its fragrance. A fly can’t harm but if a bee stings, it pains a lot. What I meant was that journalists are like bees that collect honey and spread fragrance but if anyone causes harm to bees, then there is nothing that can save him from the pain. The same is the case with journalists. The second part of the statement was not published while I had to take the flak for the first part. The Statesman had published the editorials.
Friends you can never get away with if you have done anything wrong. It is similar to a situation where a bee stings you on the nose and you have to hide your face for days together. Gentlemen, after doing wrong, you are always under the fear that sooner or later the truth will be exposed and people will know the reality.
Here the fourth estate of democracy means media and it has freedom. But if people in the news-trade think that they can make money by selling negative news, then they are mistaken as media is a different game altogether and can’t be compared with ‘news-trade’. For the benefit of democracy, it is necessary to educate the society about media; what the fourth estate is all about and who are these news-traders? This is essential as it will help identify the wrong doers. News-traders are dangerous to the society. Friends! News-traders are like the street food vendors who sell spicy food, which is good to taste, but harmful to the body. They sell the news that has the potential to be sold the most and make you an addict of the same. This spoils your habit. It is only media that can save you from such news and simultaneously provide you the news that is true and correct.
Ladies and gentlemen! Gujarat Guardian is an addition to the list of growing number of newspapers in the state. I am sure this paper will be of great help in the process of purification of the society. Let’s hope the number of newspapers and television channels increase as that will give a common man more power to know truth and face reality. So, today on this auspicious occasion, I congratulate everyone here. I would also say never hesitate to criticize me even though I have inaugurated the event. I won’t mind even if you criticise me in the first edition of Gujarat Guardian itself. That’s the beauty of democracy, Friends! Here I invite you to come and join the purification process of the society with full vigour and zest. Once again I congratulate you all!
Jai Jai Garvi Gujarat…!!