At the second Ramnath Goenka Memorial Lecture held in Delhi last week, President Pranab Mukherjee spoke on the importance of “discussion and dissension” in a vibrant democracy, and individual and collective responsibility in the era of social media. “There should always be room for the argumentative Indian but not for the intolerant Indian. That would be contrary to the spirit of the Constitution of India, to the very idea of India itself,” he said.
The Ramnath Goenka Memorial Lecture was launched by The Express Group to mark 25 years of the passing away of its founder. Raghuram Rajan, then Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, delivered the first lecture in 2016.
After a short film gave a glimpse into the life of Ramnath Goenka and his many fights to uphold freedom of press and human values, the President took the dais. “Ramnathji embodied the finest virtues of journalism — fierce independence, fearlessness and a determination to always stand up to the powerful and fight against the abuse or misuse of power,” he said.
Before the President arrived to deliver the lecture, the chandeliered hall of the Taj Palace on Delhi’s Sardar Patel Marg was abuzz with discussions. Politicians across party lines met and shared some laughs. Authors, media heads and commentators exchanged news and opinions.
Among the audience to hear the President were D Raja, CPI National Secretary and Rajya Sabha MP; Ramesh Bidhuri, BJP MP from South Delhi; Satish Upadhyay, former Delhi BJP chief; Harish Khurana, spokesperson of Delhi BJP; Congress leaders Anand Sharma, Jitin Prasada and Randeep Surjewala; Deep Kumar Upadhyay, Ambassador of Nepal; Demetrios
A Theophylactou, High Commissioner, Cyprus; Anirudh Chaudhry, BCCI Treasurer; Kishwar Desai, author and Chair of The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust; Arun Shourie, veteran journalist and author; senior journalists Madhu Trehan and Vikram Chandra; and Kirit Parikh, former member of Planning Commission, and Chairman, Integrated Research and Action for Development.