SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA SHRIMATI PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE 125TH YEAR CELEBRATIONS OF 'DEEPIKA' DAILY
New Delhi, 15th May, 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am happy to be here on the occasion of the celebrations relating to 125 years of 'Deepika', the first Malayalam and one of the country's major vernacular dailies. I congratulate the management, editorial staff and other employees, on having reached this milestone. This is due to the far-sightedness of those associated with it since its inception. Its founder Editor Father Emmanuel Nidhiry is remembered as a multi-faceted personality, who was a versatile writer and social activist of the 19th Century.
The media and especially newspapers have, directly and indirectly, over the years played a significant role in reporting and narrating the unfolding events that make the history of our nation. Infact, some of our newspapers themselves were part of our freedom struggle. Also a pre-Independence publication, 'Deepika' was founded in April 1887 as a fortnightly, and its contribution to our national life has been noteworthy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Just two days ago, the country celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the holding of the first meeting of the Lok Sabha and of the Rajya Sabha. It was a momentous occasion in India's journey as a democracy under a Constitution, which under the one person - one vote principle, gave voting rights to every adult citizen of the country. Since then, people have elected their representatives to Parliament, State Legislatures and Local Bodies. However, no democracy can be imagined without a free media. Media is an integral part of a democratic set up, as it is not only a conveyor of news to its readers and viewers, but it also is one of the platforms for expressing views on issues of public interest of the day. With advances in information and communication technologies in the last over two decades, the reach of media has spread manifold. There is, therefore, a need for the media to handle its influencing capacity, with a deep sense of responsibility to the nation. In this connection, the efforts of the management of 'Deepika' since its early days to conscientiously encourage modern agricultural practices and technology, is commendable. Information about new technologies and innovations, of new thinking and of new developments can be very useful. These are among the important initiatives that media can take to support nation building activities.
I am told 'Deepika' is also known for being a crusader for social reform and for the removal of untouchability in Kerala. It played an important role in the renaissance and reformation that took place in Kerala in the late 19th Century. This does justice to its name - 'Deepika' - which means 'Torchbearer'. Adopting a socially responsible approach to create awareness in society is another essential role of the media. Social issues, especially those relating to women, girls and children should be handled with sensitivity and not sensationalized. In our society, many social evils continue to persist even though there are legislations against them. Dowry, child marriage, female foeticide and female infanticide have had a crippling effect on the lives of many. I believe that media can have a very important role in creating awareness about the legal provisions on these matters and their negative impacts by removing social prejudices and existing mindsets. Drug addiction and alcoholism are also on the rise in our society, and the younger generation particularly, has to be cautioned and educated about the ill effects of these. Another issue of concern, including for Kerala is the growing population of the elderly. Elders in our society need special care and we must look into their needs and well-being. Those who have spent their entire life productively should not face despair and desperation in the twilight years of their lives. I feel that media should give more space to these issues than it is doing so now. I have confidence that the media in India will concentrate on a constructive approach, and be an integral and responsible partner in creating awareness on the eradication of all kinds of social evils in society.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate the important role of the media in building an aware and well-informed citizenry, and in the progress and development of the country.
I encourage 'Deepika' to continue in its efforts to set a new and a positive trend in journalism, as it continues its onward journey. I am confident that this approach will take you to new heights and will make you ever more popular.