Kochi:Mathrubhumi daily, one of the front-runners among the Malayalam newspapers in Kerala, has completed 100 years of service to the nation; reaffirmed that fourth pillar of democracy is strong and vibrant, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur said.
He said this while addressing the gathering at the Valedictory ceremony of Mathrubhumi’s centenary celebrations here in the presence of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other dignitaries.
Democratic nature of India will always remain a fact, no matter how many illogical opinions are delivered freely from within or abroad, said the Minister here today even as he cautioned against “Digital Colonialism”.
Quoting a proverb that ‘Facts are sacred & opinion is free,” the Minister emphasized “The democratic nature of our great country will always remain a fact. No matter how many unsubstantiated and illogical opinions are delivered freely from within or abroad.”
Pointing that while the advent of newer technologies presents a unique opportunity to break barriers, the Minister said “there lurks a growing danger of ‘Digital Colonialism’ on platforms run by algorithms coded offshore behind the walls of transparency.”
“We must remain cautious not to accept anything and everything in the name of innovation and modernity”, he said adding “foreign publications, companies & organisations with inherent anti-India bias peddling distorted facts must be identified and called out.”
“Here the Indian media which understands the ground reality will have to play a crucial role”, Thakur said.
Recalling the rich contributions made by Mathrubhumi, Anurag Thakur said it is always assuring and energizing to know that “when our Bharat is celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav i.e. 75 years of indepencence, there are media houses like Mathrubhumi which have already completed 100 years of service to the nation.”
“This reaffirms the fact that the fourth pillar of Indian democracy is strong and vibrant”, he said amid applause.
Urging the media fraternity to remain cautious and desist from giving its space “intentionally or unintentionally” to such voices and narratives that have the potential to threaten the integrity of India, the Union Minister expressed hope that Mathrubhumi’s values and resolutions to create awareness in the nation will continue unabated.
“We are gathered here to celebrate the fine journalism of Mathrubhumi, so it is important that we reflect on the impediments that are placed in the path of free and fair journalism by those who talk a lot about the traditions of democracy but do very little to preserve those traditions of democracy,” Thakur said.
“From Kerala to Kashmir, among the many threads that unite the diverse people of this great nation, possibly the strongest is their belief that India is their motherland – their karmabhumi and punyabhumi. The newspaper Kesava Menon founded is a tribute to this unshakeable belief,” he said.
In an obvious reference to the criticism being heaped on India’s democracy and Press Freedom, Thakur said “these days the word ‘democracy’is heard often in public discourse; a noble principle of governance has been reduced to a fashion statement by those who have constantly tried to weaken democracy and its institutions in our country.” “Violators are now pretending to be victims,” he said.
“We must remember that unlike Western countries, democracy is not an artificial implant on India – it is an integral and indestructible part of our civilization history. The sabhas and samitis that existed in other parts of Bharat Varsha, also existed in what is now known as Kerala. Democracy existed then, it exists now, and it shall exist in the future too,” he said.
Referring to the recent attack and ransack in the offices and studios of a prominent news organization in Kerala, Thakur said “such outrageous assaults weaken democracy and its institutions”.
Concluding his statements, Shri Anurag Thakur said Governments have responsibilities, so does the media. “I call upon journalists to do their job sincerely without either fear or favour. Mathrubhumi has set the standards very high. Others must strive to reach those standards and even go beyond them,” he added.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the programme. As a part of the event, Anurag Thakur also released the souvenir on centenary celebrations of Mathrubhumi. State Ministers K Rajan, P Rajeev, Opposition leader VD Satheesan, Mathrubhumi Chairman and Managing Editor PV Chandran, Managing Director MV Shreyams Kumar and other elected representatives too attended the function.