Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday hailed press freedom and said external control on press is not good for society. Speaking at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Press Council at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi today, PM Modi said, “The press is responsible for upholding free-speech. The government should not have any interference in the working of the media.” Recalling the period of emergency in India during Indira Gandhi’s rule, the Prime Minister said, “We remember how the press council ceased to exist during the Emergency. Things normalised after Morarji Bhai became PM.”
The Prime Minister made an emphatic point regarding freedom of speech, but noted that there must be limits. “Freedom… freedom of expression needs to be followed, but there must be limits. Like a mother who tells her children not to eat too much,” he said.
Though the Prime Minister did not refer to any specific changes, he said unlike journalists in past when they had
ample time to make corrections, now because of the fast-paced nature of electronic and digital media there is no such
opportunity now. Referring to the Kandahar hijack in 1999, he said new channels’ round-the-clock reportage of angry reactions of the families of passengers in the Indian Airlines flight made terrorists emboldened as they thought they can get anything from the Indian government with this kind of public pressure. The episode set off introspection in the media which later came with norms for the coverage of such incidents, Modi said.
While appreciating the positive contribution by media to the society, PM Modi cautioned that it’s also the responsibility of press to change appropriately with time. He also highlighted the perils that come with showing the truth to the world. “Any death is worrisome, but journalists losing their lives just because they try showing the truth, it becomes even more serious then.”
(With inputs from PTI)