Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday showered praise on Ramnath Goenka who launched The Indian Express and created the Indian Express Group with various English and regional language publications.
Speaking at the 11th edition of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, Modi said it was an honour for him to meet Ram Nath Goenka. “I once had an opportunity to meet him (Ramnath Goenka) when he visited Gujarat. It was an honour. He was steadfast in his values and ethics,” said Modi.
Modi hailed Ramnath Goenka’s role during the Emergency which, he added, is an important lesson for people to understand the dangers democracy faces. He also said reflection on the Emergency period should take place frequently across generations so that “no politician is born who feels like committing such a sin.”
“In India the period of Emergency is important. When we talk of Emergency, some people feel bad. It is viewed politically. That period of politics (politicising the issue) is over,” said Modi.
The Prime Minister said the era of Emergency is also useful to keep his ‘biradari’ (the political class) vigilant. During the Emergency, very few people emerged who challenged the system. “(Late) Ramnath Goenka and the Indian Express chose to do that, fearlessly,” he said.
In his vote of thanks, The Indian Express Chief Editor Raj Kamal Jha agreed with the Prime Minister that credibility is an issue that the media should introspect upon.
The government cannot be blamed for it, he said. The media will have to look within, he added.
However, he said criticism from the government is a badge of honour for journalists. To those who say that good journalism is dying, he said it is only getting better but bad journalism is getting noisier.
The Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards was instituted by the Ramnath Goenka Foundation in 2005 to celebrate the legacy of the founder of The Indian Express Group. Its categories cover investigative, political and sports journalism, non-fiction writing, feature writing, sports and entertainment, commentary and work done in regional languages.