Honest Journalism

This refers to the news item “CJI calls for practice of honest journalism”. The Chief Justice of India has rightly pointed out that the media, which is known as the fourth estate, must confine itself to honest journalism without using it as a tool to expand its influence and business interests. The power and significance of media in a democratic society is well-known. Though the media and press have persuasive authority, yet their real ability is not a secret to the world. The existence of a free, independent and powerful media is the cornerstone of a democracy, especially of a highly mixed society like India. The pivotal role of the media is its ability to mobilise the thinking process of millions.

Political scientists have been arguing since long that proliferation of mass-media, civil society groups, nongovernmental institutions and interest groups as “fourth branch” or “fourth estate” of the State can contribute to transparency, accountability and democratic governance.

Considered within a constitutional framework, these “fourth branch” institutions largely draw from the citizens’ freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of press.  Independent journalism is the backbone of democracy. Journalists are the eyes and the ears of the people.

It is the responsibility of media houses to present facts. Especially in the Indian social scenario, people still believe that whatever is printed is true. But to our dismay, we often hear of paid news in the media of our country.

P. Sooryanarayana

Kochi, Kerala

President Elected to Defend the Constitution

The election of Droupadi Murmu of the Santhal tribe to the highest office of the Indian Republic is not only a manifestation of women’s empowerment but also of social and political justice, the two preambular promises of the Constitution of India. She took oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution”, which is an important pledge to ensure that her elevation does not remain only a piece of symbolism.

The tribal communities in India are facing various challenges. Let us hope that the new President will assiduously uphold the basic values and guiding ideals of the Constitution.

Nazeer Ahmed Kazi

Prof Secab, Vijaypur (Karnataka)

Hooch Tragedy in Non-alcoholic ‘Dry’ Gujarat

The tragedy occurred in Ghandhiji’s dry state. It has been reported that 37 persons died due to methanol chemical mixed alcoholic drink consumed recently. And hundreds of victims were being treated and some were unconscious in various hospitals of Gujarat regions.

No use of declaring prohibition law in Gujarat as a ‘dry’ state?

Chowdhry Nisar Ahmed

Noorullah Pet, Ambur (T.N.)

Is Hindi India’s National or Official Language?

Is Hindi the national language of India? Many would say yes, while many others would disagree. So is Hindi our national language? India has no national language. Although the majority of northern and western states speak Hindi, it is not the national language of the country.

The Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India contains a list of 22 languages. In 1950, the Constitution listed 14 languages, including Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. However, the list was expanded thrice which led to the inclusion of Sindhi, then Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali and then four more languages, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri, totalling it to 22 scheduled languages. While Hindi is not a national language, Article 343(1) of the Indian Constitution specifically mentions that Hindi in Devanagari script and English are the official languages in India.

What is the difference between national and official languages? The primary difference between national and official languages is that while the former is associated with the country’s socio-political and cultural functions, the latter has more to do with the government and its affairs.

That said, an official language does not refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government, whereas a national language is spoken by a large part of the population of a country, which may or may not be designated an official language.

So, does India have a national language? No. India does not have a national language, but according to Article 343(1) of the Constitution of India, Hindi in Devanagari script and English are the official languages in India.

Musheera Begum

Hyderabad, Telangana

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