Chandigarh: Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda today said we are experiencing new challenges because of the impact of globalisation and an unprecedented explosion of information technology.
"I have a feeling that we as a nation have not prepared ourselves to deal with these developments," Hooda said while speaking at the launch of the Chandigarh edition of The Sunday Guardian, edited by noted journalist M J Akbar, here.
The chief minister said, "Where is this cynicism leading us to? How long can we afford to ignore the signals?
"Let us look at some of the more pronounced manifestations like attempts being made to privatise the public space; public debate is being hijacked by vested interests; the idiom of public discourse is being vulgarised; difference between the sublime and the ridiculous seems to have disappeared."
"An all pervasive distress has come to question the very relevance of public institutions and this trust deficit is widening by the day; the self-appointed crusaders refuse to subject themselves to any discipline or accountability," he said.
He said "we are passing through extremely difficult times."
"World over, we are witnessing unprecedented upheavals on economic and political fronts. Societies are seeking an escape from all types of bondage.
This newfound anxiety to seek freedom and liberty is manifesting itself in several types of struggles. And, all such movements are not always palatable," he said.
Hooda said there were other connected issues which call for a sagacious response from all the organs of our republic.
"All of us, including the media, need to adopt a corrective, constructive and non-partisan approach to deal with these challenges.
"All of us as the stakeholders in our democracy need to engage ourselves in the task of nation building.
We have to forge an intellectually sound and politically productive partnership to defeat the designs of mischief mongers and unscrupulous elements," he said.
While congratulating Akbar and his colleagues for bringing out Chandigarh edition of the newspaper, Hooda said he has "no doubt in his mind that a reputed newspaper like the Sunday Guardian would come forward for this noble cause and help create an environment which would be conducive for the growth and prosperity of this great nation."
The chief minister said the existence of free press is a prerequisite of a vibrant democracy.
He said he firmly believed that the best guarantee of media`s freedom was its objectivity and accuracy.
"Today`s highly competitive media environment poses daunting challenges to the owners as well as professionals of this industry. However, all of us would like the press to be an independent institution which is not subservient to other interests," he said.
The chief minister said if information as a product "is tailored to suit market forces only, it would seriously undermine the freedom of press. Such a trend is neither conducive to building a healthy democracy nor does it help in empowering the masses".
"Therefore, the biggest challenge for a newspaper, in my view, is to make it commercially viable and yet maintain its role as a medium of nation building.
"I know that nation-building as a phrase sounds rather hackneyed.
But I am deliberately using it in order to focus on today`s environment of cynicism and negativity," he added.