The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, addressed the fourth edition of ‘The Huddle’ – annual thought conclave of the Hindu in Bengaluru today (February 22, 2020).
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that he was happy to attend ‘The Huddle’ organised by The Hindu, a name that connotes not only India’s cultural diversity but also covers a sweep of history which is unparalleled in the world in civilisational context. He said that the Hindu group of publications has been relentlessly aiming to capture the essence of this great country through its responsible and ethical journalism. He commended them for their insistence on sticking to the five basic principles of journalism – truth-telling, freedom and independence, justice, humaneness and contributing to the social good.
The President said that debate and discussion are internalised in India’s social psyche to arrive at truth since time immemorial. There is no doubt that perception of truth is conditioned by circumstances. The conditions that cloud the truth’s positions are effectively dispelled by a contestation of ideas through debate, discussion and scientific temper. Prejudices and violence vitiate the search for truth.
The President said that sometimes, dogmas and personal prejudices distort the truth. In the 150th year of Gandhiji’s birth, let us ponder upon this question: will it not be proper to pursue truth itself as the ideology? Gandhiji has shown us the path by walking ceaselessly in search of truth which would ultimately encompass every positive attribute that enriches the universe.
The President said that the internet and social media have democratized journalism and revitalized democracy. This process is ongoing, but in its current stage, it has also led to many anxieties. The new media is fast and popular and people can choose what they want to watch, hear or read. But only the traditional media has, over years, developed skills to authenticate a news report, and that is a costly operation. He expressed hope that we would arrive at the ideal trade-off soon. He said that in the meanwhile, the traditional media would have to introspect on its role in society and find ways to earn the reader’s full trust again. The project of democracy is incomplete without informed citizens – which means, without unbiased journalism.