New Delhi: The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has advised the media to present a report card on the performance of parties in an objective manner to enable people make an informed choice during elections.
Delivering the first ‘Atal Bihari Vajpayee Memorial Lecture’, here today, organized by Indian Institute of Mass Communication on “Role of media in moulding enlightened electorate”, the Vice President opined that if the media can present report card and the people can demand accountability from political parties vis-a-vis their promises, raising resources and how they intend to spend them, he said “our country can boast of not only being the largest democracy in the world but also one of the most vibrant, cleanest democracies in the world”.
Shri Naidu said that media should act as a mirror that reflects the reality, neither magnifying nor diminishing, neither distorting nor mystifying facts. Expressing his concern over the “evil of paid news”, the Vice President advised the media to “shun this tendency lest ‘money power’ is used to influence voters through ‘manufactured’ views and opinions of paid news”.
The Vice President wanted the media to analyze the issues and challenges before the electorate instead of resorting to agenda – setting and taking sides.
The Vice President called upon the media to dispel rumors propagated by different political outfits and put a full stop to fake news by presenting the right facts before their readers and viewers. He said facts that were sacred and must be presented in an unbiased manner and opinion must be left to people.
Observing that media has an important role in promoting voter turnout for a democracy, Shri Naidu said that to make elections more credible and inclusive the pitfalls such as money and muscle power, breaching the limits of election expenditure, invoking caste and religion, criminal antecedents of candidates, paid news and fake news, violating the Model Code of Conduct, inadequate representation of women in legislatures need to be addressed in quick time.
Referring to the efforts of Election Commission of India to combat fake news, Shri Naidu said that media’s role was extremely important during elections as the chances of people propagating fake-news increases. “It is the responsibility of media to act like myth-busters in such sensitive times, and report the absolute, undiluted truth,” he added.
Asserting that the quality of electoral process was the touch stone of healthy democracy, the Vice President said that unbiased media ensures that the electorate was well informed about the choices.
Opining that the tendency of media to add commentary to facts could be dangerous for democracy, he said “As an old saying goes ‘facts are sacred and opinion is free’. So stick to facts, present them fearlessly and give opinions fearlessly but when giving opinion don’t ‘change’ the facts”, he added.
Expressing his concern over the unhealthy trend of politicians switching from one party to other after being elected, Shri Naidu opined that defections were making mockery of the democracy. He said that defectors must resign to the post and seek re election. The Vice President also stressed up on the need for a speedy disposal of election cases pending before various courts. He also wanted a time bound disposal of cases by the presiding officers of the legislative bodies.
Shri Naidu asked media organisations to devote space and time to report on the antecedents of politicians, their past work, participation in debates in state legislatures and Parliament.
The Vice President asked people to elect leaders based on their Character, Caliber, Capacity and Conduct but said some people were trying to replace these qualities with Cash, Community, Caste and Criminality. “We must foresee that these 4C’s are coming and must be careful”, he cautioned.
The Vice President bemoaned the falling level of public discourse and wanted the quality of debates to be raised.
The Chairman of Prasar Bharati, Dr. A. Surya Prakash, the Director General of IIMC, Shri K.G Suresh, faculty and students of the institute were present on the occasion.