Text of Welcome Speech by Dr. Abraham George

His Holiness Balagangadharanatha Swamiji, Honourable Ministers Sri Arun Jaitley, Sri Anantha Kumar, Sri S.M. Krishna, other dignitaries, distinguished guests and friends,

I have the honour and privilege to welcome all of you to the inauguration of the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media today. As you may know, this institution is founded by BS&G Foundation, a partnership between Adi Chunchanagiri Trust and The George Foundation. On behalf of Swamiji and myself, I take this opportunity to formally welcome the distinguished guests.

May I welcome

Mr. Arun Jaitley, Union Minister for Law & Justice
Mr. Anantha Kumar, Union Minister for Tourism & Culture
Mr. S.M. Krishna, Chief Minister, Karnataka
Mrs. Barbara Crossette, UN Bureau Chief, The New York Times
Mr. Chandre Gowda, Karnataka State Minister for Law &
Parliamentary Affairs
Mr. Balaram Jakhar, Former Lok Sabha Speaker & Union
Mr. Chandrashekara Murthy, Member of Parliament
Mr. R. Ashok, Member of Karnataka Legislative Assembly
Mr. Shekar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, The Indian Express
Mr. Ravindra Kumar, Managing Editor & Director, The Statesman
Prof. Sreenath Sreenivasan, Columbia University Graduate School
of Journalism

I want to specially recognize and heartily welcome a great supporter of this endeavor, the distinguished Chairman of ICICI Ltd., Mr. N. Vaghul. I have great pleasure in recognizing Ms. Barkha Dutt from NDTV who is present in the audience.

Today we are celebrating the birth of an institution of higher learning - one that is born of a well-recognized concept that quality journalism and a free and independent press are essential to a strong and true democratic system of government. The Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, or IIJNM, as we fondly call it, shall strive to contribute to this outcome by imparting the highest standards of training to future journalists of India and elsewhere.

We will train our students to strive for quality in journalism and maintain objectivity, fairness and ethics. IIJNM will give them the tools to practice balanced reporting, in-depth analysis and investigation, and present different points of view.

As journalists, we should try to inject ideas of mutual understanding, tolerance, and spirituality. We need to insist on the notion of a participatory public to allow citizens to be accountable for their own destiny. A public emerges when citizens take part, not when they merely watch. Citizenship is more than voting; it means participating in the dialogue of democracy. Participation does not end with elections. The press is one of the major vehicles of this public dialogue. As Bill Moyers put it, we need to reaffirm the principle that it is possible to carry out deep analysis of political actions and their consequences on social life that rational human beings will recognize as being true, regardless of whether the conclusions point adversely on one segment of the society or the other. Lacking such an understanding will continue to alienate each group of people in the name of their separate realities.

A great man once said, "an honest man does not have anything to fear from dishonest criticisms from others; a dishonest man has everything to fear from honest criticisms." This is true for any group, society, government or a nation. A free, independent, fair and investigative press will only assure a strong, fair and just society.

This institution belongs to the journalists. IIJNM exists to serve the journalism community. We exist to teach our students the principles of a good press, and to give them the tools to be good journalists. IIJNM will strive to develop in our students the "vital habits" of a true democracy. I hope all of you, especially those in the media, will participate in our efforts to make IIJNM a great institution.

Thank you.

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