Vice President Venkaiah Naidu has said that ‘discussion and dialogue, exchange of ideas, reconciling seemingly irreconcilable differences to achieve consensus are fundamental to the vibrancy and health of parliamentary democracy’. Naidu also said ‘democracy is not only about numbers’ but also about understanding and appreciating ‘each other’s point of view’. “We must debate, discuss, decide and deliver,” the Vice President said, delivering the keynote address at the 12th edition of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards in New Delhi. He was speaking after presenting awards to 27 journalists — in 25 categories, including print and broadcast, English and vernacular — for outstanding work done in.
In a democracy, he said, “you are first and foremost a humanist”. Party affiliations and beliefs are “very vital to public discourse but most important of all is your faith in justice and humanity”.
He also drew parallels between good journalism and his role as Vice President. Naidu said he has to fulfill his obligations of “impartiality and neutrality”, qualities also applicable to ‘good quality journalism’. The media ‘to a great extent’, he said, shares the “three core functions of parliamentary democracy” which are “representative, deliberative and oversight functions”. Journalists must bring out the ‘hopes and aspirations’ of the people, ‘promote conversation’ on how to improve lives, and “examine accountability” of decision-making and governing institutions.
Naidu also defines said the media’s role includes ’empowerment of people with information required, social mobilisation, building partnerships, catalysing individual and collective actions for betterment of lives and promoting peace and harmony and supporting national reconstruction’. “Journalism is all about conversation, of the people, and for the people, and this is possible in an environment of freedom of expression,” he said. Recalling the “dark days” of the Emergency, he remembered how Ramnath Goenka, the founder of The Express Group, “stoutly protested” through blank editorials, instead of submitting to censorship.