This is the text of the speech delivered to over 100 Journalists who were Felicitated recently at a function organized on Feb 2nd 2009 at Mumbai.
Good Evening Friends,
We all are glad to have ‘brave hearts’ with us today and we feel proud of you. In fact, on 26th November, i was awaiting to board the flight at the New Jersey airport for Mumbai when i got a call from my friend with whom i had the lunch that afternoon. He sounded worried and said, Rajendra, my God, did you see what is happening in Mumbai? I asked him? What do you mean Nailesh? He said terrorist have taken over Taj and Hilton hotels and a police Commissioner has been shot dead. It sent shudders down my spine. I had heard about Akshardham temple but now, it was my very own Mumbai .I walked to the nearest TV screen at the airport. I was shocked. I could watch all this thousands of miles away as you all staked your lives and kept sending the live footage. This held the nation captive for three days to the television sets. After the freedom movement, this was the first time that united the communities and the nation.
Press has always played an important role in nation building and society.
How many of you know how the democratic movement started? It was with the Introduction of printing press in mid 15th century in Europe, the proliferation of printed information helped fuel the rise of democracy. So my journalist friends, when you started the democratic movement, you will also have to safeguard the same.
After this November 26 terror strike, a lot many politicians have lost their jobs and so a debate has started on whether press should have shown everything live. I strongly believe that, since the press was showing it live, and that the whole nation was watching it, those who were fighting the battle with terrorists performed to their very best. Else, we could have lost many more lives. You all in fact, pushed the forces for their best performance . Freedom of press should not be compromised .I would go to the extent of requesting to the government to even make the sting operations legal and give immunity to the press for bringing such issues to the public . Most of the development and progress that you see in India today, is due to two reasons ; first, cheap telecommunications and second, proliferation of the Media. Media has opened the eyes and ears of the common man.
Now coming to the root cause of terrorism: Remember that each of the terrorist had 400 USD. Intelligence agencies took weeks to figure out why only 400 USD was in each pocket. This is exactly the amount you require to pay to enter your boat or jetty into the Indian waters. Our national security is priced at USD 400 ? If we stand at the Vashi check post , the price is down to 500 rupees. You can get your truck into Mumbai by just slipping a Rs.500 note at the check post
“Unemployment, uncertainty & frustration amongst the youth coupled with corruption in the government and administrative inefficiency is the root cause of terrorism and you just cannot fight it with sophisticated weapons alone” .
Terrorism survives and thrives on political and systemic corruption and inefficiency .
When trust fails, people resort to justice
When justice fails, people resort to power
When power fails, people resort to violence
India has already slipped into an economic recession .Thousands are becoming jobless every week. This will increase criminalization and health problems.
How can we help fight terrorism? We must have a nationwide ‘Neighbourhood program’. Where every 50 or 100 people in a locality form groups and spend 4 hours a week for community work. This way, we will be able to watch and ward out suspicious people and help build closer ties within the community and will be more active to serve the community and the nation better
Why did Country First decide to honour our Brave hearted journalists? Today we only recognise the contribution when someone dies, but rarely during their lifetime. You all could have been hit by hundreds of bullets getting fired. But you decided to stay there , track this terrorist strike at the cost of your lives. Police had weapons, all you had is just a camera & the conviction and courage to stand there without caring for yourself in the interest of this nation – that is Country First ! Some of you had a near death experience .We must recognise your contribution. So we are here today
Hat’s off to you !
Rajendra Pratap Gupta
Email : President@countryfirst.org / email@example.com
Mobile :+91 9323109456 / 9867300045