New Delhi, Nov 16: President Pranab Mukherjee today virtually disapproved of the returning of honours by some writers and other intellectuals, saying such awards should be cherished and valued by the recipients and emotions should not "overrun reason".
He observed that "sensitive minds" sometimes get disturbed by some incidents in the society but added that there should be "balanced" expression of concern over such events.
Mukherjee, while giving away national awards of Press Council of India to journalists and news photographers here, said, "prestigious awards such as these are a public recognition of talent, merit and hard work by peers and leaders in the profession. Such awards should be cherished and valued by those who receive them."
Apparently referring to the recent cases of some writers, historians and other intellectuals returning their awards over "growing intolerance" in the country, the President said, "Sensitive minds sometimes get disturbed by some incidents in society. But, expression of concern over such events should be balanced. Emotions should not overrun reason, and disagreement should be expressed through debate and discussion."
Speaking on the topic 'The impact and import of cartooning and caricatures as a medium of expression of opinion', he said, "We must, as proud Indians, have confidence in the idea of India and the values and principles enshrined in our Constitution. India has always been able to self-correct whenever such a need has arisen."
At the function organised by the Press Council of India (PCI) on the occasion of National Press Day here, Mukherjee paid tributes to legendary cartoonists like RK Laxman and Rajinder Puri.
He also referred to Jawaharlal Nehru and said he used to repeatedly tell cartoonist V Shankar to not spare him in his work. "This open mindedness and appreciation of genuine criticism is one of the lovable traditions of our great nation, which we must preserve and strengthen," he said.
The President also said that freedom of the press in India forms part of the freedom of expression which is guaranteed by the Constitution as a fundamental right. In a democracy, he said, various challenges will emerge from time to time and these should be addressed collectively.
"We must ensure that the letter and spirit of the law always remains a living reality," he said. Speaking at the event where Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore and PCI chairman Justice (retd) C K Presad were present, Mukherjee also said that the growth of newspapers and agencies in the country has its roots in our freedom struggle.