On Monday, President Pranab Mukherjee chose to comment on the issue to eminent personalities including writers and intellectuals returning their awards in protest against the alleged “growing intolerance” in the country.
Speaking in the capital on the occasion of National Press Day, the President disapproved of the recent trend of returning awards.
“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,” said President Mukherjee.
According to the President, honours and awards should be cherished and valued by the recipients and emotions should not “overrun reason”.
“Prestigious awards such as these are a public recognition of talent, merit and hard work by peers and leaders in the profession. Such awards should be cherished and valued by those who receive them,” said the President while giving away national awards of Press Council of India (PCI) to journalists and news photographers.
“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,” President Mukherjee added while speaking on the topic ‘The impact and import of cartooning and caricatures as a medium of expression of opinion’.
At the event the President paid tributes to legendary cartoonists like RK Laxman and Rajinder Puri. He also referred to Jawaharlal Nehru and said that Nehru used to repeatedly tell cartoonist V Shankar not to 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,” explained the President.
While speaking on the challenges faced in a democracy, the President said, “We must ensure that the letter and spirit of the law always remains a living reality.”
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore and PCI chairman Justice (Retd.) CK Presad were present at the event.
(With inputs from PTI)