The North East Youth Conclave 2021 is being organised by Yuva Ayam, Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal of north Assam from November 26. The Managing Editor of Pratidin Time group, Mrs. Smitakshi B Goswami today gave a speech at the conclave, being held at the Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra.
At the three-day event were present, eminent personalities from the media and educational institutions. The national general secretary of the BJP, Dilip Saikia was also present at the event.
Many events apart from speech and discussions, like quizzes and debates and other cultural programs, were organised. The topic for the speech was "The role of media in democracy".
Mrs. Goswami began by talking about the preamble of the constitution. She then moved forward to the role of Indian media in democracy, saying that Indian media was one of the oldest in the world. She highlighted that India had over 1,600 satellite channels of which there were more than 400 were news channels.
She also highlighted that India was also one of the biggest newspaper markets with over 100 million copies being sold every day. She further highlighted the role of media in the American and French revolutions as well as the Indian freedom struggle, expressing how free media was important for democracy to flourish.
Moving ahead, Mrs. Goswami spoke on Shri Hemchandra Barua. She said that Hemchandra Barua was a prominent writer, a social reformer of Assamese of the 19th century. He had started Assam News published from Gauhati. It was a bilingual newspaper to promote the Assamese language and to make the British understand the problems of the societies in the northeastern part of the country, she added.
"The role of media in Indian democracy has undergone massive changes, from the days of press censorship during Emergency in 1975 to being influential in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to present-day age of Social Media", she said.
She further highlighted the role of media in contemporary Indian democracy and spoke about the emergence of social media and its role in a democracy. Highlighting both positive and negative aspects of social media, she said that one fundamental truth about social media's impact on democracy was that it amplified human intent — both good and bad.
"At its best, it allows us to express ourselves and take action. At its worst, it allows people to spread misinformation and corrode democracy", she said.
During her speech, she rose many pertinent points. One of the most important points that she raised was of press freedom. Mrs. Goswami said that it was important that we followed 'World Press Freedom Day' on May 3. She said it was essential that a vibrant democracy like India had a more independent and control-free press.
Highlighting India's rank of 142 out of 180 nations in the World Press Freedom Index, 2021, she said that the freedom of the press was not expressly protected by the Indian legal system but it was impliedly protected under article 19(1) (a) of the constitution.
Therefore, she said, "3 May should be celebrated and acknowledged in India as it acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics".
Notably, the event was inaugurated on November 26 with ceremonial flag hoisting with inaugural speeches from the state education minister, Ranoj Pegu, Prof. Pratap Jyoti Handique, vice-chancellor of Gauhati University, and Dr. Umesh Chakraborty, regional head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.