Virbhadra Singh enhances prize money of developmental journalism awards
INVC NEWS Shimla, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh stressed upon media for credible and factual reporting to meet the day-to-day challenges in a positive way, especially with the changing trend of reporting and use of digital technology and reach of social media. He was presiding over the National Press Day function organised by department of Information and Public Relations on the theme ‘The Impact and Import of Cartooning and Caricature as a Medium of Expression of Opinion’, here today. He said the National Press Day was symbolic of a free and responsible press in India. This was the day on which the Press Council of India started functioning as a moral watchdog to ensure that not only did the press maintain the high standards expected from this powerful medium but also that it was not fettered by the influence or threats of any extraneous factors. The Press Council of India had a unique entity and this is the only body to exercise an authority even over the instruments of the State in its duty to safeguard the independence of the press. Extending his felicitations to the journalistic fraternity on the occasion, the Chief Minister said news was an important part of life today and had much impact on the lives of the people. In the present context both electronic and print media were playing a pivotal role. The Press which was the fourth pillar of democracy has enormous responsibility on it for serving and analysing the correct reporting. He said the Indian media by and large was very responsible and this had to be maintained at every cost as it was the basic strength of our democracy. Today, a lot more was happening in the country and India had marched ahead on the path of progress and development and other countries were keen to know the social and political developments in India. Shri Virbhadra Singh said that Nation is proud to have leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru and Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar who played a pivotal role in bringing in secularism and democracy besides social justice and providing ample opportunities to move ahead to every individual of the country. Our constitution is best in the world where every one had been given the right to vote and now the time had reached where people are well aware about the importance and value of their democratic rights. The Chief Minister said that press played an important role in strengthening the democracy and needs to be impartial. He said freedom of press was basic step for democracy and the press not only help making public opinion but also bring basic issues to the fore. The media influence the social change therefore it had to be more responsible as one loose word here and there could create blunder and even make or destroy the Nations. He announced enhancement in the National Development Journalism awards given by Himachal Pradesh Government every year from Rs. 50,000 to rupees one lakh and State award from Rs. 40,000 to Rs 75,000. He also announced increase in amount for electronic media to Rs.50,000 and district level development journalism awards to Rs. 50,000 as well. Information & Public Relations Minister Mukesh Agnihotri, while speaking on the occasion said that the media had been playing an important role in highlighting the policies and programmes of the State government. He said cartoons had greater impact than the words could say as it hits and pinches far more than the written words. He said that the Information & Public Relations department was more concerned about the welfare of journalists. The Congress government had started the development journalism awards and after a gap of few years, the government was again going to distribute these awards shortly. He thanked the Chief Minister for enhancing the amount of these awards which would help in promoting development journalism in different sections of media. Shri Agnihotri also stressed for making efforts for regulating the social media. He said that the government was planning a National Convention of Media next year. He further said that the Congress Government was always committed for protecting the freedom of press. He said present state government had released sufficient funds for construction and maintenance of Press Clubs in the State. Shri Mukesh Agnihotri honoured the Chief Minister and other guests present on the occasion. Consultant and prominent cartoonist, Dainik Hindustan, Shri Rajendra Dhodapkar said that cartoons speak in itself and conveys more than the words can say and forms an important ingredient of democracy and secularism. He remembered former Prime Minister Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru for encouraging freedom of press and the trends of cartoon. Editorial Cartoonist, Jansatta Shri Irfan Khan said cartoons played a great role in exposing the dictatorial governments throughout the world like Iran where a girl cartoonist had been jailed for thirteen years. He said cartoonists also follow certain rules and limitations as cartoons on sensitive issues like religion could lead to bad impact on the society. He also remembered eminent cartoons Shri Laxman and Shri R.K Puri for their outstanding contributions and said their cartoons had greatest impacts and they were widely discussed. Director, Information and Public Relations, Dr. MP Sood welcomed the Chief Minister and other guests on the occasion and detailed about the importance of the National Press day. He congratulated the media persons on the occasion. President Press Club Shimla, Shri Gian Thakur honoured the Information and Public Relations Minister. Forest Minister, Shri Thakur Singh Bharmouri, Vice-Chairman, HP State Forest Corporation Shri Kewal Singh Pathania, Editors and journalists, senior officers of the Information & Public Relations department were present on the occasion.