Mr Prime Minister, Mrs Gursharan Kaur, The President and Members of The Tribune Trust, Honourable Governors, Chief Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen:
We in The Tribune—the Trustees, my colleagues and myself—are feeling honoured with your presence here this morning.
One hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary is important for any newspaper, as it is certainly for The Tribune. Thank you very much for being with us today to inaugurate the anniversary celebrations. And thank you Mrs Gursharan Kaur for joining us at a very short notice.
The Tribune has been a part of life for most of us who are sitting here in this auditorium today. I don’t think the Prime Minister will deny if I say that like most of us, he has been reading The Tribune since his formative years. Visible or otherwise, some of our ideas may have been shaped by the events reported in The Tribune and the ideas disseminated by this paper over the decades.
The vision of Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia, the ideas that Renaissance movement generated, particularly the idea of freedom that was at a nascent stage (at that time), brought about the birth of The Tribune.
Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia wanted to make his contribution to the national cause, even if it involved some personal sacrifice. He rightly thought that there had to be some answer to the Civil and Military Gazette—which was the mouthpiece of the British Raj published from Lahore. Over the years, The Tribune, as you know, became an effective answer and stood up for the people of India.
As the idea of freedom grew in strength and reach, The Tribune also grew and earned love and affection of its readers, which, I am happy to report, it still enjoys.
During these 125 years, The Tribune has been a witness to momentous events. It reported on the two World Wars, the growth of nationalism in India, the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, the Quit India movement, the dawn of Independence, the Partition of the subcontinent—which brought about, perhaps, the largest two-way migration of the people—and much else that shaped the history of modern India.
Along with the Partition, The Tribune also migrated to free India. Intrepid members of the staff, who had themselves lost homes and hearths—reassembled the paper, piece by piece, in Shimla and Ambala, before it moved into this city.
Despite its ups and downs, The Tribune always kept its head high. Since the birth of Independent India, the nation-building effort has been oozing out of the pages of The Tribune, as the nation went ahead, arming itself with the Constitution, parliamentary democracy, independence of judiciary and the right to free expression—which, in effect, means The Freedom of the Press.
I am glad to report that The Tribune has used this right even under difficult circumstances. We are not afraid to criticise where criticism is necessary. We are not shy of praising, when praise is due.
Of course, we have had our own share of brickbats and bouquets. Only one small problem we face—maybe all journalists or papers face. When we praise, we are considered objective, fair and impartial. When we criticise, we are considered biased, sometimes mischievous.
We have taken all these in our stride.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Tribune is a unique institution. The founder insisted that the paper should always be run by a Trust, whose members must always be eminent men from public life and who have the highest regard for values that should guide the Press.
Many people ask us: Who owns The Tribune? They get surprised when we tell them that no one person, family or a business house owns this paper. It belongs to the people and the Trustees of The Tribune hold this paper in trust for them.
I have worked in many papers, but like the long line of editors, who headed the paper over the vast stretches of the paper’s career, I have found working in The Tribune an ennobling experience. The Tribune Trust gives ungrudging support to the Editor, if he adheres to the highest values, and moral and professional standards that should guide journalism. I must report to this distinguished audience that I have enjoyed the confidence the Trustees have reposed in me. I am thankful to them for it.
Throughout its career, The Tribune has stood for Democracy, and a plural society where no one is discriminated against for accident of birth.
We are opposed to the misuse of religion for politics, casteism, criminalisation of politics and corruption – and much else that has kept the nation in shackles for a long time.
I suppose these are the concerns of most enlightened citizens of the country. Mr Prime Minister, they are your concerns also.
We retain the right to criticise when necessary, but we will support all your policies that are aimed at making India a great nation which can hold its head high in the world for its achievements and the values its polity ought to be based on.
Thank you, Mr Prime Minister, for coming here to inaugurate our 125th anniversary celebrations.