World wants India to succeed but bottlenecks are within: PM
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 24
“The world wants India to succeed.” This was stated by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, here today while inaugurating the 125th anniversary celebrations of The Tribune.
Unlike some of his predecessors who used to blame external agencies for any internal problem in the country, Dr Manmohan Singh was candid enough to acknowledge that the bottlenecks were not external, rather they were internal.
The media had an important role in shaping public opinion and attitudes so that these were in step with economic evolution. “The modernisation of the mind must accompany the modernisation of the economy”, he said.
Expressing concern over the sharp increase in female foeticide in Punjab, Dr Manmohan Singh called upon the media to play its due role in influencing public opinion so that liberal values were reinforced in the minds of “our children and grandchildren”.
Terming the menace as a “blot on the name of the valiant and gallant people”, he said the Punjabi “is proud of his son as much as he is of his daughter. Our daughters have contributed as much to the glory of Punjab as our sons.” He was hopeful that the media would take up in a big way the crusade for gender empowerment and for the fair treatment of the fairer sex.
Expressing his conviction about the country’s rapid progress on the material front, the Prime Minister said we must make similar progress on the intellectual front as well. “I have asked Mr Sam Pitroda and Dr Pushp Bhargava to give leadership to the Knowledge Commission to give us ideas on how we can strengthen out knowledge base. This programme cannot be just a programme of building new institutions. It must also be one of shaping new attitudes, of instilling greater curiosity in the minds of our children and of reinforcing respect for the core values of our Constitution and our Republic.”
Revealing that he had been a loyal reader of the newspaper all his life, he said, “It is now a habit that I see no reason to give up. I cannot imagine life without a morning dose of The Tribune. Even when I lived in distant lands, I would make sure that The Tribune was delivered to me.”
Dr Manmohan Singh recalled how he used to contribute to the columns of The Tribune when he started his career in Chandigarh.
Acknowledging the competition the print media was facing from the electronic media, the Prime Minister, however, said he could not imagine that a newspaper could ever be replaced. However, he cautioned that newspapers could not be “mere platforms of entertainment and gossip… they cannot be mere purveyors of prejudice and petulance. They must have a larger purpose. Above all, they must contribute to a nation’s intellectual vibrancy.”
He said he was delighted to be present at the anniversary function “because The Tribune is edited by my friend, Mr H.K. Dua, and is run by a Trust of most eminent and patriotic men for whom I have great affection and regard”. He said any Trust should be proud on having trustees of the calibre of Justice R.S. Pathak, Justice S.S. Sodhi, Dr R.P. Bambha, Mr R.S. Talwar and Mr N.N. Vohra.
As if replying to those who criticise The Tribune for being moderate, Dr Manmohan Singh recalled the objectives of the paper’s founders published in its inaugural editorial in February 1881. He reminded the audience that the editorial headlined, “About Ourselves”, boldly declared that The Tribune had no pet theories to maintain and no personal interest to serve; and it believed that public good was advanced more by charity and moderation than by rancor and harsh words.
He said during the freedom struggle, Mahatma Gandhi often came to the defence of The Tribune’s editors like Kalinath Ray and Surendranath Ghosh when they annoyed the British authorities with their defiant writing. “More recently we have all admired the professionalism, wisdom and courage of such eminent editors as Prem Bhatia, V.N. Narayanan, Hari Jaisingh and, of course, H.K. Dua”.
Dr Manmohan Singh said today The Tribune had acquired for itself an “enviable position as the window to northern India. In this capacity, The Tribune has a national and a global role and mission to play.” He recalled how rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the partition, a traumatised people worked hard to rebuild their homes, their lives and their livelihoods. “I salute the enterprise and dedication of the people of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir”.
He expressed the hope that with the peace process picking up in Jammu and Kashmir, the state would continue to make progress under “the leadership of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed”.