Sunday, Jan 04, 2004
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India & World
By B. Muralidhar Reddy
Speaking at the concluding session of the SAARC journalists summit organised by the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), Mr. Sinha told the gathering that India would support any arrangement for a free movement of SAARC journalists, including a visa free regime. He said New
Delhi was ready for the most liberal visa regime for the movement of journalists within the SAARC region.
The basic objective of the summit is to influence the governments in the SAARC region to consider greater freedom to the journalists from the region and the free flow of media products. SAFMA has presented a charter on the requirements of the media and mediapersons and wants to be adopted by the SAARC heads at their summit beginning tomorrow.
"Please consider a change in your policies. Indian newspapers, magazines, music, films and television are not going to undermine your society. Let us break down these artificial walls. The time has come to end this self-defeating approach. South Asia must rise above such shortsightedness," Mr. Sinha said with reference to the restrictions imposed by Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The Minister recommended working, in a short-term framework, towards the goal of a South Asian Common Information Space. He said that understanding at the popular levels within the region be further deepened to create fresh synergies for cooperation and addressing differences.
While there was agreement on the need to free the movement of media and media products within the region, there was hesitation when it came to actual implementation of supportive measures. "The biggest non-tariff we encounter in this process is the suspicion in our minds. Trust me, we are not protecting our respective countries. We are not threatening our respective cultures. We are only limiting opportunities for better understanding among ourselves, for our growth."
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