From reconciling outdated censorship rules with the Twitter age to his own full-blooded and, as some would say, verbose style of defending the Congress — information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari confidently fielded a broad brush of questions during an Unplugged at HT session on Tuesday.
“(I’m) Punjabi by nature,” Tewari said when asked to comment on his razor-sharp attacks on the Opposition as the erstwhile Congress spokesperson.
Son of a professor assassinated during Punjab’s Sikh insurgency and a dentist-mother, Tewari, a lawyer by training, did not disappoint an audience eager to know if he would change his ministry’s stance on censorship in the digital age, as expected of a minister who, at 47, is relatively young.
“The government will take its time to come to terms with social media,” he said, adding that it preferred “self-regulation” by media entities to hardnosed government checks.
“Right to offend is OK, but there must be a remedy for it. Society must ultimately find its own comfort level.”
Internet curbs have recently sparked a backlash. In November, two Mumbai girls faced arrests for questioning the city’s shutdown for politician Bal Thackeray’s funeral.
Tewari said the government could not entirely abdicate its role as a watchdog.
On the controversial issue of “paid news”, Tewari said it would help if a commonly agreed definition emerged from within the sector.
However, he said the government was being cautious on the issue, as it didn’t want to step on press freedom or open up journalists to arbitrary police inquiries and criminal actions.