AIMA awarded notable contributors RC Bhargava, Rohini Nilekani and Aroon Purie in their respective fields. Amitabh Kant was the chief guest and gave away the awards. For reasons of space we are sharing below only the acceptance speech of Aroon Purie, Editor, India Today Group on the subject of Indian media and their role in Indian democracy and society.
In his acceptance speech, Aroon Purie said:
…Delighted because you’ve given a media person an award because these days media is the best whipping boy for everybody. We are the ones who create riots. We’re the ones who create all the chaos in society. We are responsible for all the ills in society. Most often, the messenger is shot. But I’m not saying we are perfect. Bad apples exist in every profession. Are all the businessmen honest? Are all politicians honest? Excuse me. But are all bureaucrats honest? No, there are always bad apples in any industry and you can’t condemn them just because of that.
And let me tell you, readers and viewers are very smart. They know where propaganda ends and real journalism begins. But a free press is essential for India. It’s essential for our democracy, especially when our democracy is not functioning so well. As you can see, more debates are held on news channels than held in Parliament, and that’s a sad thing to say. Think whatever it is, whatever the fault is.
Would you be better off without the press? Just think about that for a moment.
I believe journalism is a noble profession for it carries a social responsibility just like doctors and teachers. There must be a certain code of conduct, although it is like a business and a medical profession is too, but it still has a social responsibility. In journalism, seeking the truth as best as you can and presenting it objectively. That’s the aim. Today this is even more important in today’s environment where there is an epidemic of fake news, which is going to get further aggravated by AI. Maybe Nandan can solve that problem, but we’ll wait for that. And the truth is in danger of becoming an endangered species. And there’s a tsunami of digital information. And of course, there is the WhatsApp University, which everybody, lots of people get their unverified information from.
It is therefore imperative that journalism has to step up, and do its job, honestly, and it’s required for India’s democracy to survive.
I must also say that this award goes to all those talented people who have worked with me in these last 48 years, and those who continue to work. My role has been that of a gardener. All these talented people come and bloom in my garden and make me look good. So, this is the reason why I am getting this award. And lastly, my long-suffering family who have lived with somebody for 48 years on a 24-hour news cycle. News is like time. It does not stop. It just keeps flowing and you have to be in it all the time. So, I’m really delighted that you have recognized somebody in the media. Thank you so much.