Tuesday, December 22, 2009

PM’s remarks at the CNN-IBN Indian of the Year Awards, 2009
Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s remarks at the CNN-IBN Indian of the Year Awards, 2009 ceremony in New Delhi today:

“I am delighted to be here to honour several distinguished citizens who have been selected by CNN-IBN this year for their accomplishments and contributions to India’s march forward.

Every society and every profession needs role models. They represent our best and our brightest. But among them are also those who are our conscience keepers, whose ideas reinforce our values and whose actions set new standards of ethical conduct.

This year I am particularly delighted that you have chosen a number of young people in the different award categories. The choice of Shri Rahul Gandhi in the politics category reflects the change that a new generation of politicians is bringing to our public and political life. Rahul is not just an inspirational leader but also a fine young man. In years to come I am sure he will continue to inspire men and women of his generation to attain heights of excellence in different fields.

When you give away awards to accomplished Indians you are also telling the world what kind of people India celebrates and honours. I feel proud as an Indian that so many of our artists, scientists, writers, sportspersons, entrepreneurs and civil society activists have a global audience today. The lyrical tunes of A.R. Rehman’s compositions are sung throughout the world. The performances of Saina Nehwal on the badminton court have caught the attention of the sporting fraternity. I wish to tell her that we have many expectations from her. I have no doubt that in the years ahead, this true champion will prove that Indian women are second to none on the sporting fields.

Our greatest inheritance is our democracy and the freedom of expression it gives us. The country is proud of its vibrant media. But we should introspect whether the media does justice in portraying the diversity and complexity of the issues of the day and whether there is adequate balance in the purveying of ideas and information. The media have a responsibility to ensure that it is not just the loud who are heard, but also the silent. Indeed, often those who are loud are better organized, better funded, and better served by the system. If the media only purveys their viewpoint, who will speak for the silent majorities?

One organization that does work for the upliftment of the silent majority is Pratham. In honouring them today, we recognize a pioneering NGO model that draws on the expertise and experience of educationists, corporates, workers, activists and professionals and unites them in the common vision of a better life for all our children.

I take this opportunity to compliment all the other winners in different categories of awards. They have all contributed to our national development through excellence in their individual professions. Our motto should be to strive to be the best in whatever we do, with the best interests of all in mind. In so doing we work for ourselves, our families, our communities, our nation and our one world.

Last week I was in Copenhagen for the Climate Change Summit. We are working hard to build a global consensus on solutions that address the needs of the poor along with the needs of our planet and of all humanity.

Humanity’s approach to climate change and other global challenges has to be need based, not greed based, as Gandhiji taught us. So I sometimes reflect on whether we should follow the same unsustainable path the industrialized countries took to develop and modernize their societies. Ecological devastation of whatever cause or origin will have far greater consequences in India than in the West. We need to recognize our own reality and have an informed and rational debate on what is in our enlightened self-interest.

Here again the media has a vital role to play. We cannot live in a society where millions are outside the shop, on the pavement, looking into a glitzy world they can never hope to enter. The media cannot be just a window to an unattainable world. It should seek to open the door to an attainable and a sustainable future for each one of us.

With these words, I wish to congratulate the award winners once again and wish each one of them and all of you a Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous and purposeful New Year.”

No comments: