Modi government believes in freedom of press as it is the essence of democracy and no “external” regulation has worked in media, Information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesaday said on his first day in office.
“We believe that press freedom is the essence of democracy. And to make democracy a success, we require this press freedom because it gives people the choice in a rainbow of differing opinions,” the Minister said.
He recalled restrictions imposed on media during the Emergency and said that he was among those who had opposed it. “There is no external regulation which works in media.
Once in 1975, the media freedom was trampled upon but we fought against it. The people fought against it and I personally was very active on this front because I belong to a family of journalists and therefore we fought and were in jail for sixteen months,” he said.
Javadekar said that dissent has its place in democracy and added that the government would welcome constructive criticism.
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The I&B minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been saying that to run a government a majority is needed but to run the country cooperation of all is required.
Speaking to mediapersons, Javadekar said that it is a joint mission to see that India prospers to its potential by 2025 and progresses much further by 2030.
“These will be important landmarks,” he said. When queried about remarks reportedly made by his predecessor Manish Tewari that the I&B ministry belonged to a past era, Javdekar replied that an institution can be brought to an end quickly but it takes time to nurture work culture in an institution.
He said that he would study in detail issues related to his ministry and then give a presentation to the Prime Minister after which a course for the future would be charted out.
The Minister was asked whether interviews on Doordarshan would be edited, to which he said “never”. The question was apparently made in the backdrop of the controversy over editing of a Narendra Modi interview by the national channel during the election campaigning.
On a query related to Prasar Bharati, Javadekar said he would examine the matters in greater depth.
He was asked whether by talking about 2025 and 2030, he was seeking more time or “extending the deadline”.
“We are not extending the deadline, but there are benchmarks of development which we are talking about,”Javadekar replied.
To another question, he said that cross-media ownership is a big issue and discussion is already on.
Later, the Minister was briefed on the key initiatives, mandate and policy framework of the Ministry by Secretary(I&B) and other senior officials.
An official said that presentations on the different areas in which the I&B ministry worked will be made to the new minister tomorrow.
Apart from senior officials of the I&B ministry, Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar and officials of Doordarshan and All India Radio came to greet the new minister.