The Hon’ble President of India, Pranab Mukherjee presented the second Ramnath Goenka Lecture on Thursday, May 25 at New Delhi. The Ramnath Goenka Lecture series was launched by The Express Group to mark 25 years of the passing away of Ramnath Goenka, founder of The Indian Express. The lectures, in the spirit of late Goenka and the newspaper, aim to deepen understanding of change and inspire debate on issues of vital contemporary interest.
The Lecture aims to create a public space for ideas and debates that raise questions, respect conflicting answers and celebrate the gray in a discourse that too often marks the black and the white.
“Media has a vital role to play at a time when the loudest voice drowns out those who disagree,” President Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday while delivering the second Ramnath Goenka Memorial Lecture.
“...the need to ask questions of those in power is fundamental for the preservation of our nation and of a truly democratic society. This is a role that the media has traditionally played and must carry on playing. All stakeholders in the democratic system, from parties to business leaders, citizens to institutions, have to realize that asking questions is good, asking questions is healthy, and in fact, is fundamental to the health of our democracy,” Mukherjee said.
“To my mind, while the press will be failing in its duty if it does not pose questions to the powers that be, it will have to simultaneously judge the frivolous from the factual and publicity from reportage. This is a tremendous challenge for the media and one that it must stand up to. It must resist the temptation to take the path of least resistance which is to allow a dominant viewpoint to prevail without questioning it or allowing others the opportunity to question it. Media must learn the art of withstanding pulls and pressures without sacrificing its commitment to free and fair reportage and always remain on guard against conformity,” Mukherjee added.
The President said that Ramnath Goenka embodied the finest virtues of journalism - fierce independent, fearless and always determined to stand up to the powerful and fight against abuse of power.
The lecture was held at the Taj Palace, New Delhi and was attended by some of the top bureaucrats, politicians, diplomats, economists, media personalities and artists such as Arun Shourie, Dr Naresh Trehan, Madhu Trehan, Anand Sharma, Vikram Chandra and Jitin Prasad to name a few.