The Man : Veteran journalist, filmmaker and writer Tariq Ali. The Occasion : Formal flagging off ceremony of a group of young aspiring journalists, the 2014 batch of ACJ ( Asian College of Journalism located in Chennai, India)
Mr. Ali’s speech was diverse in content and remarkable in its sweep. He started off by explaining how western countries were provoked to institutionalize the concept of Free Press in response to the unilateral and prohibitive nature of Soviet regime during the Cold War era.
Locating the entry of trivia and celebrity news into the mainstream media to end of Cold war he expressed in no unequivocal terms his frustration at the level of pervasiveness the phenomena has acquired during the present times.
Criticizing the persecutory stance adopted by West against whistle blowers like Snowden and Assange he also spoke against the rejection of Snowden’s asylum request particularly emphasizing the almost reflex nature of the rejection.
In a counter intuitive analysis he presented the case study of South America where its popular leaders have succeeded even with an antagonistic media which continued to thwart their policies. “Media is only strong if you allow it to be strong” he said. He described the Venezuela’s late leader Hugo Chavez’s governance model as the path towards the future.
Mr. Ali’s stature and genius was adequately complemented by the presence of a curious and very attentive audience which included the faculty of ACJ, members of the press, individuals from the general public and of course the students of ACJ. On stage he was joined by Shashi Kumar Chairman of ACJ, N Ram ex editor of THE Hindu, Nalini Rajan Dean ACJ and Sreekumar Menon faculty at ACJ.