06 September 2019
Bhubaneswar: Senior Journalist Ravish Kumar, who won the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award 2019, delivered a speech on "The Power of Citizen's journalism to Advance Democracy", in the Philippines on Wednesday.
Kumar, 44, won the award for "harnessing journalism to give voice to the voiceless" and his "unfaltering commitment to a professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards". He is among the five recipients of this award, which is regarded as the Asian version of the Nobel Prize.
Here are the five takeaways from Ravish Kumar's public lecture:
1. India on Moon and yet more craters on Earth
“India has conquered the moon. In this very proud moment, I am looking at the moon and at the ground beneath my feet simultaneously. My streets have craters and potholes which outnumber the moon.”
“ Across the world, democracies on fire in broad daylight are craving the coolness of the moon. But this fire can only by doused with information that is pure and with courage, not by mere rhetoric. The more pure our information, the deeper the trust within our citizenry”, said Kumar as he opened his speech.
2. Duties of a Citizen Jounalist
We are living in testing times, as journalists and as common citizens. Our citizenship itself is on trial right now and make no mistake about it, we need to fight back. We need to rethink our duties and responsibilities as citizens.”
“I believe that in today's times when the attack on our citizenship is all-encompassing and the state's surveillance apparatus is more overbearing than ever, the individuals or groups who are able to withstand this onslaught and emerge stronger from it, will be the ones who lay the foundation for a better citizenry and for that matter, maybe even better governments in the future.”
3. News Channel debates have molded classic “us” vs. "them"
“News channel debates take place within a vocabulary of exclusionary nationalism wherein they seek to replace the collective history and memory of the nation with that of the ruling party's in their viewers' minds."
“There are only two types of people in this news universe narrative: the anti-nationals and us. It's the classic ‘us’ and ‘them’ technique. They tell us that the problem with Anti-nationals is that they ask questions, disagree, and dissent.”
4. Information Blackout in Kashmir
“An information and communication blackout (in Kashmir) imposed for several weeks. More than 10 million people cut off from any information trade whatsoever. There was an internet shutdown. Mobiles were rendered useless.”
“Today if a Kashmiri girl decided to write a blog on the lines of Baghdad burning, our mainstream media would label her as anti-national. The media today is increasingly delegitimising the space of citizen journalism because it is not interested or invested in journalism.”
5. Media no more fourth pillar of democracy
“Media and social media contribute to the process of isolating, silencing, and intimidating citizens by placing them in the midst of mobs, virtual and real. The perception of risk rises - and the experience of fear paralyses. Today's citizens are under immense pressure. The challenge before them is to find out how to fight against this media, which runs its business in their name.”
“Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Ambedkar, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, Pir Muhammad Yunus were all citizen journalists. My criticism of the mainstream media, and in particular of news channels, is intended for the sole purpose of my great country. India's newspapers and news channels incite and provoke conflict between communities. We are in urgent need of Citizen Journalists during today's times but even more than that we need the Citizen Democractic.”
NDTV’s Senior Executive Editor ended his speech by thanking his colleagues and his mentors and all the people of India for all the love and support that he has received till date.
Ravish Kumar will receive the Ramon Magsasay Award at a ceremony in Manila on September 9, 2019.