Reddy seeks media's help in eradicating poverty

NEW DELHI: The Union minister for information and broadcasting and culture S Jaipal Reddy today said that the media representatives of SAARC countries should work towards creating an atmosphere of goodwill in the region.

Inaugurating the Second conference of editors and working journalists of SAARC countries here today, he said the region needs to work towards a common economic zone for which the regional media will have to play role of 'ambassador of goodwill'.

According to Reddy, despite prolonged prevalence of poverty, countries in the region continue to be dominated by the historical baggage of wrong priorities and mindset. The ongoing information revolution has opened immense opportunities, which need to be collectively tapped to aggressively work towards routing out poverty from the region.

He said the media should rise above narrow national identities and play the role of trendsetter.

As a first step in this direction, the minister said, SAARC should work towards facilitating free movement of journalists in the region that can work as a catalyst towards changing the political mindset and drive the region towards a collective effort in that eradicating poverty and creating atmosphere for common economic zone.

Secretary in the I&B ministry Navin B Chawla said in the era of breath-taking technological advances in the media scene, the conference would help further strengthen the process of mutual dependence and co-operation.

It can work towards evolving a common strategy to draw attention towards the common problems of the region.

The SAARC secretariat representative Shri Pradhumna Shah drew the attention towards the recommendations of the SAARC Information Ministers Conference. He said the SAARC Information Centre is being set up in Nepal, which would facilitate exchange of information among the member countries.

The new chairperson of the conference, Shakuntala Mahawal, Principal Information Officer, Indian government, said the forum would help in expanding the horizons of understanding and issues pertaining to media of the south Asian region.

Agenda for the two-day conference includes country presentations on current situation of print and electronic media in member countries, consideration of directives from the third meeting of SAARC, including proposal to set up SAARC-recognised regional media forum and discussion paper by Bangladesh for setting up of a SAARC Media Development Fund.

The conference will also work towards identifying points relating to print media for evolving a SAARC Common position for presentation at the World Summit on the Information Society scheduled in Tunis in December next year.

The conference will also provide inputs for the revised plan of action on information and media as it is being felt that many items of the action plan of 1998 have become outdated due to innovative developments in the field of information technology.

The heads of TV and radio organisations at their third meeting held in Thimpu in April 2004 had identified some areas for inclusion in the revised plan.

These include development of SAARC media training academy to carry out training programmes/courses for human resource development in ICT sector, encourage member countries for e-government and e-strategies and also work towards establishment of gradual digitised technology for TV and Radio. A similar action programme for print media is also to be worked out by the conference.

Delegations from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are attending the two-day conference. Mahawal leads the Indian delegation.

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