President Pranab Mukherjee is greeted by PCI chairperson Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad during National Press Day function in New Delhi on Monday, November 16, 2015. (Press Trust of India photo)
New Delhi: Against the backdrop of ‘intolerance’ debate, President Pranab Mukherjee today said disagreement should be expressed through debate and discussion without letting emotions “overrun reason”.
Observing that “sensitive minds” sometimes get disturbed by some incidents in the society, he advocated a “balanced” expression of concern over such events.
“Sensitive minds sometimes get disturbed by some incidents in society. But, expression of concern over such events should be balanced. Emotions should not overrun reason, and disagreement should be expressed through debate and discussion,” the president said addressing an event organised by the Press Council of India (PCI) on the occasion of National Press Day in New Delhi.
“We must, as proud Indians, have confidence in the idea of India and the values and principles enshrined in our Constitution. India has always been able to self-correct whenever such a need has arisen,” he added while speaking on the topic ‘The impact and import of cartooning and caricatures as a medium of expression of opinion’.
Although the president did not refer to any particular incident, his comments assume significance as these came against the backdrop of certain cases which were seen as reflection of ‘intolerance’.
At the function, he paid tributes to legendary cartoonists like RK Laxman and Rajinder Puri. He also referred to Jawaharlal Nehru and said he used to repeatedly tell cartoonist V Shankar to not spare him in his work.
“This open mindedness and appreciation of genuine criticism is one of the lovable traditions of our great nation, which we must preserve and strengthen,” Mr Mukherjee said.
The president also said that freedom of the press in India forms part of the freedom of expression which is guaranteed by the Constitution as a fundamental right.
In a democracy, he said, various challenges will emerge from time to time and these should be addressed collectively.
“We must ensure that the letter and spirit of the law always remains a living reality,” he said.
Speaking at the event where Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore and PCI chairman Justice (retd) CK Prasad were present, Mr Mukherjee also said that the growth of newspapers and agencies in the country has its roots in our freedom struggle.