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Editorial

Freedom of expression

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By EMN Updated: Sep 22, 2013 9:51 pm
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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n any society/nation whether monarchy, communist, theocracy or democracy, there are certain rights of the individual which are automatically understood since humans first began to live together. However, in course of history, certain people who come to power or tend to grab it by force, try to impose their own versions and definitions of freedom.That is why, when nations came into being, to keep the citizens together within certain laws, certain rights to freedom are guaranteed. Unlike the British Constitution which is perhaps the shortest written one in the world going mainly by precedents, the Constitution of India—the longest ever written Constitution in the world—has so many checks and balances that there appears to be many loopholes also.
Nevertheless, Article 19 of the Indian Constitution stipulates that All citizens shall have the right to:- (a) freedom of speech and expression; (b) to assemble peacefully; (c) to form associations and unions; (d) to move freely throughout the territory of India; (e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India and (g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. However, sub-Clause (f) was omitted by the Constitution (14th Amendment) Act, with effect from June 20, 1978.
Now, Roads and Bridges Minister, Kuzholuzo (Azo) Nienu, has stressed the need for the media houses in Nagaland to use the “Freedom of Expression” in line with the democratic ideals and values, and more importantly, for the larger interest of the general public.
“The danger comes when the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression is being misused,” he said at the one-day media seminar organized by Kohima Press Club on Saturday September 21. He called upon the media professionals to exercise their wisdom while discharging their duties, accordingly. Media personnel being the watchdog of the society their role should be based on the overall benefits of its citizens.
As such, the media’s credibility in a democratic institution is enhanced if they are accountable to the public and id they ensure that ethical and professional standards are upheld. A sensational and trigger happy press does not contribute to intelligent and discussion and debate and soon loses public support, the Minister emphasized.
The Minister has been long enough in the corridors of power to understand the role of the media in general. That is why he maintained that no government can function effectively if the media is not effective and it should also give emphasis on government activities concerning the State and the people.
Social networking has proved a an effective medium for exchanging opinions and raising awareness, said IPR Joint Director, Limawati Ao, who also spoke on the occasion. Most people associate social media with positive outcomes but this is not always the case.
The use of social media in the right perspective also changes the mindsets of the youths, the future generation to take up the helm of affair—for better or worse. Social media has revealed a darker side-a hatred-mongering tool. For, in the recent communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, social media added fuel to the raging fire.
Charles Chasie rightly pointed out on the role of print media in the midst of electronic media invasion, to provide adequate, accurate and objective information to the best of their ability. And, of course, the role of the media also can be gauged by what Thomas Babington Macaulay said in the UK Parliament over a hundred years ago: “The Reporters in the press gallery are the Fourth Estate of the Realm.”

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By EMN Updated: Sep 22, 2013 9:51:11 pm