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Improved tech & states role; curbs on Peace TVs, cable sans DD in new integrated policy: Naidu

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NEW DELHI: Information and broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu today laid emphasis for evolving a comprehensive "national information and communication policy" to provide citizens "enhanced access to information."

Addressing the 28th state Information Ministers Conference (SIMCON) here, Naidu said the Centre and the states should work together in various areas, including in dissemination of effective information, to push integrated development.

"We need an integrated and holistic approach and coordination between the centre and states is essential," Naidu said.

The meet was attended by minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore, secretary Ajay Mittal and other senior officials of the ministry apart from representatives of different states.

The proposed policy would be prepared in consultation with states in the spirit of cooperative federalism and the principle of Team India which the prime minister firmly believed in, Naidu added.

Elaborating on the proposed contours of the policy, Naidu said the broad objectives should be to enhance access to information and communication infrastructures and new technologies, especially in rural areas; to promote national dialogue on development issues by all citizens and facilitate informed participation of people in setting development agenda and its execution.

The policy should rationalise multi-sectoral investments in information and communication hardware and software through their consolidation and appropriate integration in development plans and planning structures; to ensure timely, orderly and effective growth of information and communication institutions and professions through standards setting, capacity building and human resource development; and broadly define the roles of different governments at various levels and other stakeholders.

It should preserve national cultural identity and enhance the development of cultural and artistic capabilities and institutions, while enabling productive regional and international exchanges and support national and local development initiatives, and to improve the quality of life of the people, by facilitating systematic and effective use and coordination of communication and information strategies and outcomes.

The challenge before such a policy was to analyse the ingredients of the communication environment including competencies and resources that are critical.

The minister further stated that the initiation of such a policy would integrate development communication, development agendas linking planners, beneficiaries and implementers of development actions. It was the endeavour of the proposed policy to make people informed participants in decision-making and development planning process. Such a communication approach also enabled policy makers to look at people as part of a solution.

Naidu said all-round and integrated development cannot materialise without effective dissemination of information. "People have the right to information," he said.

While the country has evolved policies on various subjects like environment and health, there is no such policy for communication and information dissemination.

"The centre and the state should work together to evolve the communication policy," he said, adding that Ajay Mittal and senior officials have been directed to work with the states to work on a draft policy at the earliest. "It should also work to preserve national cultural identity," Naidu added.

Naidu said India has unique strength in its cultural richness and its heritage. "Any Tom, Dick and Harry came and conquered...They 'might have' robbed our wealth, but they could not take away our heritage," he said.

Naidu referred to the prime minister Narendra Modi's repeated emphasis on 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas (development with all and development for all)' and said even leaders such as B R Ambedkar and Deen Dayal Upadhyay had laid emphasis on the development of 'Antyodhaya' - the last man in the queue.

The minister said the states should take advantage of the reach of public broadcasters -- All India Radio and Doordarshan, and give them "preferential treatment." These organisations do not run with commercial considerations, he emphasised. He said that strict action should be taken against those cable operators who do not show DD News.

Naidu said with regard to violation of cable TV operators laws, the states should appoint designated officers in all districts to ensure that no major violation like the Peace TV episode is repeated. He would be writing to chief ministers again in this regard, the minister said. ('Peace TV' of Zakir Naik had allegedly telecast various programmes which instigated youths towards radical thinking.)

Speaking earlier, Mittal gave an overview of the deliberations of the first day’s meeting highlighting some of the key discussion points across sectors and suggestions received from the States. During the course of the deliberations, the separate wings of the ministry, films, broadcasting, information and Prasar Bharti (AIR & DD) made presentations regarding the policy initiatives and issues for discussions and convergence with states.

The minister also visited the various stalls and multimedia exhibitions showcased by the media units of the ministry namely, National Film Archives of India, which organised the multimedia exhibition on the theme ‘Azaadi 70 Saal- Yaad Karo Qurbani’. The exhibition showcases the film industry’s contribution to Independence and was organised to celebrate 70th year of India's Independence. The three themes covered include ‘Rise and Revolt: Cinema of Social Reform’, ‘Our Freedom Fighters-Through the lens of Cinema’ and ‘Saluting our Soldiers’.

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