New Delhi: Prestigious awards should be cherished and emotions should not overrun reason, President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said during the National Press Day celebrations.
His comment came as several artists recently returned their awards blaming the government for rising intolerance in the county.
Speaking at a function organised by the Press Council of India here, Mukherjee said: "Prestigious awards 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."
"Sensitive minds sometimes get disturbed by some incidents in society. Emotions should not overrun reason and disagreement should be expressed through debate and discussion," 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."
The president said journalists must bring to public notice the array of ills and deprivations that continue to beset large number of people.
"The power of the media should be used to reset our moral compass and promote liberalism, humanism and decency in public life. While opinion is free, facts should be sacred," the president said.
"Caution should be exercised in passing judgements, especially on matters where the due process of law is yet to be completed. We must never forget that careers and reputations take years to build but only minutes to demolish," he added.
Mukherjee said the media fraternity of India were not only providers of news but also educators which empower the citizens and strengthens the democratic framework of the country.
Referring to the main theme of this year's National Press Day discussion, the president said cartoons and caricatures were good stress busters for the viewing public as well as those featured in them.
"The cartoonist captures the mood of the time and his art lies in being able to lampoon without hurting, caricature without distorting and to say with a few strokes of the brush what lengthy articles fail to express. Jawaharlal Nehru, our first prime minister, used to repeatedly tell V. Shankar, the doyen of Indian cartoonists, 'Don't spare me, Shankar'," he said.
Mukherjee also gave away National Awards for excellence in journalism on the occasion. Among this year's awardees is IANS Agarttala bureau chief Sujit Chakraborty.