NEW DELHI :
Newly sworn in minister of information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar said freedom of the press is the essence of democracy and their government recognizes and cherishes it.
“I am very happy to take charge of the ministry of information and broadcasting. Former leaders like Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu have left us a rich legacy and guided this ministry with utmost efficiency and foresight. I am proud of that legacy and will try and do justice (to the job)," Javadekar said on Friday, in his first interaction with the media.
“We will all work together," he added referring to the spirit of cooperation between the government and media organizations.
Independent India has seen only one instance of curtailment of freedom of the press, he said. In 1975, the Congress party had brought the country under a state of Emergency when there was fierce censorship. The battle against that was waged under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani, as part of which Javadekar too spent 16 months in jail, he said.
The past five years of the Narendra Modi government have seen some stand-offs with the media and entertainment industry, be it reduction in GST rates imposed on movie tickets or the I&B ministry’s order to curtail fake news by suspending the accreditation of journalists. However, the said order was withdrawn after the intervention of the Prime Minister.
“In a democracy, freedom of the press is crucial and we recognize that. The Prime Minister has reiterated it too. And I trust the press to recognize that every freedom comes with responsibility. They have always worked with a sense of responsibility and will continue to, I believe. Which in turn, will strengthen democracy," Javadekar said. For a short period between May and November 2014, Javadekar was Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting.