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National Media Centre inaugurated, PM cautions against calumny
Saturday August 24, 2013 8:14 PM, IANS

The UPA government Saturday inaugurated with top-level attendance a gleaming National Media Centre that it said was expected to act as an interface between the government, media and the people.

Inaugurating the impressive glass-facade, four-storeyed building, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said it would act as a communication hub and a single window facility to fulfill the needs and requirements of the media fraternity.

Facing the challenges of a hostile media, the prime minister asked media to exercise caution to ensure that a "spirit of inquiry" does not "morph into a campaign of calumny" and that a "witch-hunt" did not become a "substitute for investigative journalism".

He said the media has to exercise a sense of responsibility for social harmony and public order and referred to the violence and the exodus last year from the south of thousands of people belonging to the northeastern in the wake of morphed images and mass text messages spreading misinformation.

The media centre, barely a kilometre from Parliament House and close to the Press Club of India, has been designed on the likes of media centres in Washington and Tokyo and other global capitals. The media centre opening comes months ahead of the general elections.

Congress president and ruling United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi said the government welcomed the watchdog role of the media.

"We welcome the watchdog role of media and well founded and well intentioned criticism of our policies. We recognize that there could be shortcomings that need to be highlighted. At the same time the government and the media have a share in disseminating the programmes, policies, decisions and information. This is where an institution such as a national press center assumes importance," she said.

Confessing that she belongs to the older generation which still prefers to read the daily morning newspapers and feel its crinkling sound, Gandhi said the media has an "almost larger than life impact on our lives" which imposes great responsibility.

Acknowledging the role of the media, she said it "makes the political establishment uncomfortable" and that is the reason the government is able to put forward its point of view.

She hoped the new media centre would act as a bridge between the government, the media and the people and in disseminating information about government programmes and policies. However, Gandhi clarified that the government did not favour propaganda or publicity campaign "simply in order to score points for the government, but the people have a right to know their legal and other entitlements".

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said the building, which was first conceptualised 21 years ago, had finally become a reality and was "ready to make its debut among institutions that underpin our democratic edifice".

The media centre has been built by the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) in three years.

It is also equipped with a hall for press conferences, a briefing room and 24 work stations for the media plus a library, lounge and cafeteria.

The project is aimed at further improving dissemination of information about government policies and programmes, the ministry said.


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