The event started promptly at 1100 hours and was flagged of by the traditional lighting of the lamp by Revered Prof Dr Vishwanath Karad, Rahul Karad and all the dignitaries which included luminaries such as Shri R N Bhaskar, renowned editor and writer, Shri M K Venu, Founding Editor of ‘The Wire’, Shrimati Neerja Chowdhary, Senior Journalist and Shri Snehasi Soor, Senior Journalist Doordarshan. After that, the ‘Bell of Democracy’ was rung by all and the event officially started.
Shri Prasad Kulkarni, Pune Union of Working Journalists – He started by speaking about his union, which is one of the oldest journalists unions in India. He highlighted its role in promoting unbiased journalism today. He then stressed on the interrelation between journalism and the youth of the country. He thanked Rahul Karad for this opportunity as well as for this excellent initiative.
Rahul V Karad – Rahul Karad started by thanking each and every dignitary on the dais for taking the time out from their schedules to attend this important conference. He then welcomed the numerous students from various journalism schools throughout India who had come to attend the event. He stated that he believed this event to be a way to forward his core belief of fomenting a lasting world peace. This event is another way by which Rahul Karad wishes to involve the educated youth of the country in journalism, politics and the general running of the country, through any means and at any level. He spoke at length of the endeavours and conferences that MIT has hosted in order to forward this point of view. He then spoke about the venue itself, the World Peace Dome, the largest dome in the world, its significance and its future. He concluded by informing the gathering of how he thought of this conference along with Shri Prasad Kulkarni and is happy to see its fruition today. He wished the aspiring journalists present the best of luck for their future. His ultimate aim is to infuse truth and integrity back into journalism.
Revered Prof Dr Vishwanath Karad – He started his speech by thanking the assembled dignitaries and the students present for the conference. He spoke of how Swami Vivekananda and his vies helped shape his own resulting in the creation of the World Peace Dome and the World Peace library. He stated that he is often called the creator of these structures; he stated that he is merely the instrument for its realization and nothing more. Swami Vivekananda’s word’s at the global religious conference in Chicago where he stated that all he needs to make Mother India great is a few people with strength of mind and body. In that vein this conference is to be used to embolden journalism and the youth who wish to become journalists. He spoke then about Saint Dnyaneshwar and his sayings which have served to inspire Revered Prof Dr Vishwanath Karad himself. He spoke then about the World Peace Dome and how it is nothing more than a symbolical representation of all of India and the cumulative knowledge accrued from all over the world and through all ages. He concluded by saying that the vision of Mother India as espoused by Swami Vivekananda will only be possible with the aid of the fourth estate, which is the media.
Dr Jayprakash Narayan, Founder Loksatta party – Dr Jayprakash thanked Revered Prof Dr Vishwanath Karad and Shri Rahul Karad. He stated he would strive to resist the urge to pontificate and quoted an incidence when Socrates was asked by a diligent pupil whether the pupil had acted correctly by patiently listening whatever Socrates had to teach and think for over 20 years. Socrates replied, in his brilliant way, by stating that were the student a wise man, it was a foolish thing, but were the student a fool, it was a very wise thing indeed. He spoke of how it was redundant to try an inculcate morals within journalism as it was a moral institution to begin with. He spoke then of the current Indian scenario. He spoke firstly of the primary purpose of the media which was an informed, reasoned public debate. Then he spoke of the requirement to balance the need for our individual purpose and our collective purpose, a role aided by an informed media. Through hilarious anecdotes he drew attention to how certain issues can only be handled by collective will and effort, in order to safeguard the individual. Thirdly he spoke about money and how it seems that we have perfected the means and have absolutely botched the ends. He also emphasised the need to see not only that which is not accomplished, but also take into cognisance that which is accomplished. He then spoke at length about the numerous accomplishments of India. Afterwards, he spoke about the deficiencies within the democratic framework of India, such as the asymmetry of power and the clientele nature of our politics and the highly centralized nature of our government, and the rule of law which in reality is yet to grace most of the citizens of India. He spoke of how these issues need to be cleared in order for democracy to work in our great country, while acknowledging that there can be no true substitute to democracy within any ordered society.
Session 1 : Ethical Media - Foundation For World Peace
11:40 am to 12:39 pm
Shri R N Bhaskar- He spoke of how a couplet he heard at a poetry session in his youth which influenced his decision to become a journalist. The role of the journalist is to get to the bottom of a story and with that, he resolved to adjudicate each and every session for this conference with objectivity and neutrality.
Shri M K Veenu – Shri M K Veenu spoke of how in his 35 years of journalism services he can conclude that there are numerous schools of what ethics within journalism means with the advent of nationalist media which now take sides while they report on events and situations. He does not agree with this form of journalism and he adheres to a media format which questions everything as that diversity of opinion is what makes the media secular and aids it in expressing opinions honestly. Since every issue is by its nature contentious, to have a fully informed viewpoint, one must allow for the free expression for all ideas, something only a questioning journalists can truly do.
Shrimati Neerja Chowdhari – The learned lady started by stating how a couple of decades ago whatever was written in the papers was completely accepted as the truth, something which is not happening today. She stressed that accuracy and credibility are the two pillars of any good journalist, something that is sadly missing today. She stated that, according to her, the role of the media is to show a mirror to the government and its people. She is unhappy about Kashmir not because of the government or its policies, but simply because of the lockdown imposed due to which no stories are coming out about the state. She states that the government has its role and media has its own. One cannot be subsumed by the other, ever. She stated lastly, that the media has a duty to speak about the people no one speaks for, the most disenfranchised individuals, and that is what media is all about.
Shri Snehasi Soor - He started by stating that he believes that the new pilgrimage for unity in diversity must is the beautiful World Peace Dome which serves as a monument to different religions and science. He believes that ethics is imperative to good journalism and that true reporting is critical for the eventual harmonizing of the entire expanse of humanity with itself. He asked where the role of media is today and how all houses of journalism, whether big or small, must adhere to a high moral and ethical backing.
Shri Prasad Kulkarni – He started by stating that he comes from a different generation than the other journalists due to his youth and he believes that the greatest issue is the fact that today journalists are a mix between reporters and advertisers. This is, in effect, destroying the very basis of journalisms which is being unbiased. This trend needs to be reversed and people should not be paid to change or bend their viewpoint, as happens often during elections when journalists get payment to espouse certain views.
Session 2 : Digital Media in prevention of Rumor mongering
12.30 am - 14.00 am
Shri Jajati Karan – He started by stating that digital media is an excellent medium to dispense news and opinions, something which the speaker took cognizance of and starting his own digital media house. He said that more than fake news, one must pay attention to the revenue model of a media house in order to answer the essential question, which is who is paying for the news. If the reader is not and if a political party or a business house is, then it is easy to understand why news is biased. He goes on to state that there are various practical and easy ways by which a viewer can discern between real and fake news, something he stressed on the people to actively do when faced with a particularly explosive headline or article.
Shrimati Madhuri Danthala – The learned speaker gave an impassioned speech about how peace is being compromised in today’s political climate, both nationally and internationally. She said that it is more important than ever to ensure the demise of fake news due to its rapid speed of proliferation among people and its damaging impact.
Shri Milind Khandekar – This speaker stated that most of rumour mongering is not to be blamed on digital media itself, but rather on the messaging platforms. He believes that initially the news was distributed via very few print channels which is not the case now. He further claims that there were multiple killings due to rumour mongering. In order to curb this, the platforms must be empowered to police themselves and influential parties must be curtailed form turning these platforms into rumour generating factories.
Shri Parag Karandikar – He started by using a live example to ask the audience if they have heard a rumour today, and then by disseminating the rumour due to an astute use of logic and rationale. He stressed that we all should adopt this approach when we get certain news.
Dr Balsing Rajput – As in IPS Officer for Cybercrimes, the speaker stressed that the blame is not to be placed in technology itself but also on the people who try and spread rumours using digital media. More than getting the facts straight, it is important to get the narrative correct as well because too many times he has seen the correct facts being used to manipulate narratives as well. Just as we humans need to bathe to clean ourselves, so too must the digital media come up with ways by which to ‘bathe’ themselves to get rid of rumours and false narratives. He stresses that informing and educating the public about the ill effects of fake news is the way forward.
Shri Nitin Brahme – The speaker started by quoting a recent example when there was a news item broadcast by the BBC and Al – Jazeera which was denied by the I&B Department of India, and rumours stated about how BBC is antinational, a charge the agency vociferously denied and were subsequently proved false. Still the rumours persisted and have created a false narrative in the minds of many people. Moreover many influential individuals are creating a lot of rumours to further their own agenda due to the ease by which it can be done. These need to be redressed, according to the learned speaker.
Shrimati Shireen Sethi – The speaker started by informing the audience that she has been in Nigeria for the past many months and that many issues within that country mirror those in our country as well. Nigeria was also going through national elections during roughly the same time that India was. She stated that the leader of that country faced a rumour that he was not campaigning for the elections but a lookalike of his was. This rumour generated so much tract ion that even international agencies like BBC and Reuters got involved to fact check it. She also mentioned the many rumours pertaining to the terrorist organization called Boko Haram that were circulated in Nigeria. The fact check was undertaken by journalists on the ground and that, in the opinion of the speaker, is the irreplaceable value of journalism. Fact checking through ground sources and journalist will ensure the death of any rumour, no matter how malicious or infective it may be.
Shrimati Pratibha Chandran – The speaker chose to elaborate upon a rumour which was spread during Ajmal Kasab’s trial whereby he asked a question of his defence lawyer pertaining to the Rakhi tied around his wrist which was contorted by the digital media to state that he missed his sister on Rakshabandhan resulting in a huge outpouring of sympathy for his. The state lawyer, when asked as to what Ajmal was asking stated that he wished to know whether he could get some Biryani, resulting in an immediate wave of antipathy for him. Both of these were untrue and Ajmal was merely inquiring to the significance of the tied thread. But this example highlights the need for stringent fact checking and penalties for all digital media houses in the opinion of the speaker.
Shri Jayant Mainkar – The speaker assured the audience that rumour mongering has been around for as long as journalism and media has been around. He states that even the first printed paper contained rumours and even in the era before the emergence of the fourth estate there were rumours. About the proliferation of rumours today, he squarely blamed technology and emphatically states that not all media houses engage in rumour mongering while those who wish to find it easier to do so due to a lack of checks on digital media platforms. That, in the speaker’s opinion, is what must be remedied in order to curtail rumour spreading via digital information outlets.
Session 3 : Role of Journalists in Conflict Reporting
14.30 pm - 16.00 pm
Shrimati Rakhee Bakshee – The speaker spoke about the two wars she covered, namely the Kargil war and the Iraq war. She spoke about how both were different experiences for her as one was a war within her own country and the other was a war in another country. What touched her is the general humanity that she experienced in both the war zones. She stressed that the job of a journalists is of a story teller, but one where the story is true. This is very true for those who are conflict reports, an inherently dangerous job with a lot of leeway for rumours and lies.
Shri R K Radhakrishnan – The speaker spoke about the general rules that one must follow while being a conflict reporter. This includes being protected at all times and not going anywhere or doing anything without complete prior knowledge of the event, else the reporter will likely become the story themselves. It is very important to check and double check sources as it can be essential to the safety of the reporter and the authenticity of the reported news. A cardinal rule is not to be in the way of any relief worker or agency; therefore conflict reporters usually do not interview doctors, etc.
Shri Uday Mahurkar – The speaker took a unique position by blaming his own community, that of reporters, as usually acting as a catalysts for events rather than simply reporting on it. He has specialized in reporting on riots such as the Bombay riots and the Godhra riots. He quoted specific examples where journalists inflamed passions by falsely reporting on the cause of the Godhra train burning as well as amplifying the destruction caused by the minority community. Similarly he quoted other examples where reporters have taken a stand which has created further division and issue among those who hear their views. He stressed on the importance of neutral conflict reporting and not having one’s own views aired.
Shri Vinod Agnihotri – The speaker stressed his reaffirmation in the belief of eventual peace on earth after witnessing the magnificent world peace dome. He further states that the most dangerous as well as interesting journalism is conflict journalism. He states that as a conflict reporter, both sides view you with suspicion and the threat of danger is presented to you form either side. Through this and the general chaos of war, a journalist must not only report the truth, but also aid in deciphering it. The best defence against it is to gain immense local knowledge of geography and politics while ensuring their own safety. It is extremely important to be patient and inquisitive; else the conflict zone is likely to claim you. Also, trusts no one, not even the government in a conflict zone.
Shri Mayank Singh – The speaker elaborated on the different types of conflict reporting who only have one underlying commonality, that is the reporting of the truth. He quoted his own example of when he was covering the Maoists insurgency in Nepal. He stated that the army has a different sociology that must be understood along with need to understand the complexity and gravity of the situation that must be covered.
Shri Prasad Kathe – The speaker spoke about how virtually all journalism is akin to conflict reporting. He quoted statistics where even sport journalists and arts journalists are killed. He stated that India is one of the top nations where the death of journalists is not successfully closed. The underlying issue that causes conflicts are generally not covered since they are not understood something that journalists must strive to overcome. He concludes by stating that an error from a journalist has repercussions beyond just the reporting of the conflict.
Shri Arup Ghosh – He stated the three kinds of conflicts which are covered namely war, communal and terror conflicts. He stated that his career was established after he witnessed the death of 22 Karsevaks by the paramilitary. He then stated the many individuals that died while conflict reporting. He painted a very honest picture of how it is for conflict reporters on the ground quoting specific examples from the Kargil war and the Sri Lankan Civil war.
Shrimati Deepika Bhan – The speaker is a native of Jammu and Kashmir and stated that there is an imperative to maintain objectivity while reporting on areas and conflicts which are directly affecting the reporter, as the speaker had to cope with while she covered the conflicts in Kashmir. She quoted her own example when she was covering a live conflict in Kashmir. She elaborated to the audience that the reporter must stick to the truth, ensure their own safety, maintain objectivity and remain unmoved. Conflict reporting is much more than war and reporting.
Shri Kartik Lokhande – The speaker informed the audience that a conflict reporter must always be prepared for any issue. He quoted his own example when his car narrowly missed being bombed by Maoists and how he could not get any police to offer him an explanation while he was in Kerala, a state notorious for the bias of its Police towards political parties. He stated that it is important to speak to all sides involved in a conflict and then gauge the perspective of the parties involved.
Shrimati Mamata Mishra – The speaker wished to inform the audience that the depth of the conflict must be studied before the conflict can be spoken about. This means that the journalists ought not to expect to do an expose, rather they must do extensive ground work with a lot of patience before they can understand the gravity of what they are covering and offer an unbiased and objective coverage.
Shri Nilesh Khare – The speaker said that there is enough ‘conflict’ within reporting of conflicts themselves and that must be resolved before we can resolve the larger issue of how to report on conflict zones. He stressed the importance on simplicity and honesty as a rule of thumb while reporting on conflicts.
Session 4 : Glorious History of Indian Media : Retrospects & Prospects
16.00 pm - 17.30 pm
Shri Shesh Narain Singh – The speaker started by mentioning the first casualty of journalism in India, Maulvi Mohammad Bakr, who was killed due to his unbending stance against false news and yellow journalism. He stated the importance of Indian journalism for the freedom struggle, in the wars and even during the Emergency. He spoke of the numerous challenges of his profession along with how it is getting more difficult for journalists in the present scenario. He states the past for journalists is great and he expresses hope for the future.
Shrimati Pallavi Ghosh – A TV journalists, she started by stating she is more optimistic about the future for journalism in India and stating that there is a better future for reporters.
Shri Ramesh Bhatt – The speaker states that the future for journalism is bright, since journalism is now much more powerful due to the advent of digital media and journalism. He states the way the extensive coverage of Nirbhaya rape case cased the alteration of a law bill. He then expressed his conviction that if all reporters can be completely committed to their job and be honest in its execution, then the future for journalism is bright indeed.
Shri Manoranjan Mishra – The speaker was not very optimistic about the future of journalism. He states that with increasing state interference in journalism and the advent of machine learning. He states that journalists must be extra wary in order to prove their utility to their professions, and the only way to do so is to be unbiased, fearless and objective in their reporting.
Shri Onkareshwar Pandey – The speaker started by thanking the moderator and his host, revered Prof Dr Vishwanath Karad and the World Peace Dome that he constructed. He states that he considers Maharashtra to be the epicentre of journalism in India. He then went on to elaborate on its influence over the Indian Independence movement. The advent of the digital age is now causing the phenomenon of social journalisms as well as citizen journalism. He expresses his belief that he hopes that of all individuals are informed on the procedures to follow while reporting then every individual can become a potential journalist.
Shri Prakash Pohare – The speaker elaborated on the importance of journalism to the government and society. He quoted multiple examples where the government would take the advice of journalists due to their extensive and in-depth knowledge of issues in order to take informed decisions. He states that this scenario is changing today due to the poor quality of journalism which seeks to be sensational and earn money rather than stay true to their vocation. He impressed upon the audience the need to return to the old ways of reporting and shun the newer innovations which are weakening the very basis of journalism.