Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday urged netizens to use social media for dissemination of only authenticated information about novel coronavirus or COVID-19 and avoid posting misleading myths related to the disease.
Naidu also sounded caution regarding some sections of electronic media, noting that they should have avoided and should, henceforth, desist from “hyping” the situation since creating panic would further play upon the already anxious minds of the people.
He expressed his views in a Facebook post titled “Media: Our Partner in Corona Times”.
Calling media persons on the ground as ‘frontline warriors’ for their dedicated efforts in presenting the narrative on the pandemic for wider awakening, Naidu hailed their efforts for empowering people with necessary information, analyses and perspectives about various aspects of the outbreak and partnering with the anxious people in the ongoing fight against the disease.
Naidu said when people run into adversity, the media persons look for information regarding its causes and consequences, its duration and the means of coping with it. It falls on the central and state governments and the media to equip the people accordingly, he pointed out.
The Vice-President noted that the media played the role of a chronicler of the pandemic for use by prospective historians of the pandemic and as a bridge between the people and the governments for regular communication on the preparedness.
“With the economy contracting due to restrictions, advertisement revenues have dried up. Scales of operations had to be adjusted and a good number of media persons had to take pay cuts. But, by and large, the media persisted with the mission of empowering the people, when it is needed the most,” Naidu said.
He also referred to the particular problem faced by the print media vis-a-vis distribution of hard copy as they were misrepresented as carriers of the virus.
Alluding to certain comments in the media, Naidu, who is also Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said that that the Union government had recently reached out to him as well as Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on holding the Monsoon Session of Parliament.
Recounting that the last Budget Session of Parliament had to be adjourned sine die on March 23 a few days ahead of the schedule, the Rajya Sabha Chairman said that he and the Lok Sabha Speaker have held several rounds of discussions so far on enabling the meetings of the Parliamentary Committees.
The logistics of seating and participation of MPs in the proceedings during Monsoon Session of Parliament in the context of corona-induced social distancing norm also required detailed deliberation and planning, he pointed out.
He also said that parliamentary scrutiny of the handling of the pandemic is on course in the meantime.
Naidu said that with the easing of restrictions on domestic air travel and to a lesser degree on rail travel, the department-related standing committees of both the Houses of Parliament have resumed their meetings this month.
“They have undertaken examination of various aspects of management of the pandemic and its fallout. This, in effect means, the required parliamentary scrutiny of the handling of the pandemic started in about three-and-half months of the last sitting of the apex legislature of the country. Any other shorter time frame may not have been possible given the situation prevailing in the country.”
The Committee on Home Affairs this week reviewed various aspects of the pandemic management with the Home Secretary presenting evidence. Last week, the Committee on Science and Technology reviewed the research and scientific preparedness in the context of the pandemic. Each meeting lasted over three hours.