Imphal: Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has said his government would always uphold freedom of expression and would never curtail press freedom. However, one should also ensure that the Freedom of Expression doesn’t violate morality and decency.
The Chief Minister stated this while participating as chief guest in the National Press Day observation here on Tuesday.
Presentation of State Journalist Awards, 2021 in eight different categories and holding a workshop on the topic, ‘Who is not afraid of Media?’ were the main highlights of the observation organised by DIPR, Manipur.
Being a leader from the media background, the Chief Minister said, he fully understands the problems faced by the media persons of the State.
Stating that he has a deep honour for media persons, N. Biren Singh said that various steps had been taken up by the present government for the welfare of the media fraternity of the state. The Manipur State Journalists Welfare Scheme had been introduced to provide one-time financial assistance to the accredited and recognized journalists of the State and their families. A total of Rs. 25 lakh had been utilized from the interest incurred from Corpus Fund of Rs. 10 crore till date, he added.
Pension amount for retired journalists had been hiked from Rs. 5000 to Rs. 8000 and from Rs. 2000 to Rs. 4000 for family pensioners, besides approving one-time age relaxation for enrolment for applicants from the age group of 45 to 65 years, he added. The Chief Minister also said that coverage of CMHT had been extended to the families of the recognized media persons as well.
In addition to these schemes, the Chief Minister said the media fraternity may also suggest to the government how it can help them in other matters. He also asked them to have healthy competition among them. The Chief Minister further urged the media fraternity to have proper verification of news before it is published or broadcast. He also requested them to collect detailed facts and figures from the concerned Government Departments.
Apart from the media fraternity, N. Biren Singh said his government had also introduced many welfare schemes for the people of other professions as well like artistes, sportspersons, entrepreneurs, etc. as well. He stated that all-around progress can be achieved only when the Government attends to the grievances of each and every individual.
Information Minister Th. Biswajit Singh said that to acknowledge the contribution of journalists in the State, the Manipur State Journalist Award was instituted in 1994 with only one category of award, i.e. Best Editor Award carrying cash prize of Rs 5,000. Stating that the Award now has eight different categories, Th. Biswajit Singh said that winners of the award are decided under laid down rules by an independent panel of juries.
Among the achievements accomplished by the present state government, the Minister mentioned the completion of the new DIPR office building in 2021. He also said that DIPR staff are attached to the office of the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister and all the Ministers to highlight the activities of the present Government and enhance news coverage. The present Government had also opened District Information Offices for Kangpokpi and Pherzawl districts.
Stating that the media has a great role in educating the masses, Th. Biswajit urged the media fraternity to do balanced reporting. He requested them to include the versions of both sides while reporting to avoid confusion. Education Minister S. Rajen Singh said that the media plays a great role in guiding society to the right path. He also said that it also makes people understand the efforts and works done by the Government for them.
Later, the Chief Minister presented the Best Editor Award on National Integration and Communal Harmony to Editor of Poknapham daily Aribam Robindro Sharma. The award carries prize money of Rs. 40,000, a memento and a shawl.
Other State journalist award winners were Staff Reporter of Sangai Express Sapam Aruna Devi (Women and Children), Resident Editor of Hueiyen Lanpao daily Dr. Khaidem Athouba Meitei (Parliamentary Reporting), Staff Reporter of People’s Chronicle Oinam Mission Singh (Art and Culture), Staff Reporter of Sangai Express Sapam Aruna Devi (Science and Technology), Staff Reporter of Sanaleibak daily Khangembam Shanker Singh (Rural Reporting), Senior Staff Reporter of Sangai Express Mayanglambam Romen Singh (Sports Reporting) and Reporter/Anchor of Impact News Kshetrimayum Premchand Singh (Public Health and Hygiene). These awards carry prize money of Rs. 25,000, a memento and a shawl each.
Later, a workshop on the topic, ‘Who is not afraid of media?’ was also held with Editor-in-Chief of Impact TV Yumnam Rupachandra as the moderator and Imphal Times Editor Rinku Khumukcham as the resource person.
Commissioner (IPR) M. Joy Singh and All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) president Wangkhemcha Shamjai were the guests of honour of the function.