The National Press Day Celebration 2023, centered on the theme 'Media in the Era of Artificial Intelligence,' was celebrated at Chintan Bhawan in Gangtok, organized by the Information and Public Relations Department (IPRD), Government of Sikkim today.
Traditionally observed on November 16th, the National Press Day commemorates the establishment of the Press Council of India, emphasizing the pivotal role of a free and responsible press in a democratic society. Due to the Diwali festival, the state celebration was rescheduled to today.
Distinguished by the presence of Chief Guest, IPR Minister BS Panth, the celebration commenced with an exploration of the imperative to embrace technological advancements. In his address, Minister Panth extolled the Information and Public Relations Department for achieving significant milestones in navigating the digital age, all under the leadership of the Chief Minister.
Acknowledging the department's strides, Panth also articulated pressing concerns, including the need to regularize ad hoc Junior Information Assistants, restore office infrastructure, and provide advanced equipment. He asserted that a well-equipped Information and Public Relations Department is indispensable for nurturing a transparent and informed society.
Minister BS Panth extended a call to students and journalists, urging them to be vigilant in updating themselves with the ever-evolving landscape of AI tools and technology. He reassured that concerns raised by the Press Club of Sikkim have been duly noted and will be presented before the State Government for consideration.
During the celebration, journalists and media professionals were also honoured, recognizing their indispensable contributions to fostering transparency, democracy, and social justice. Eminent Journalist/Writer/Translator Subash Deepak was conferred the prestigious Kashiraj Pradhan Lifetime Journalism Award 2023 for his four-decade-long career, marked by the authorship of six books in Hindi, encompassing novels, short stories, poems, and works on prominent Indian Gorkha freedom fighters.
The Late YN Bhandari Best Journalism Award 2023 found its deserving recipient in Joseph Lepcha, Senior Journalist, and former President of the Press Club of Sikkim. Recognized for consistent service in journalism and socio-cultural engagements, Lepcha's contributions stood out in this moment of appreciation.
Writer/Journalist Prabin Rai received the Chief Minister's Award for reporting on Climate Change, lauded for his two decades of service covering various regional, national, and international issues, with a special emphasis on environmental and climate change topics. The Chief Minister's Awards for reporting on Women’s Issues and Human Rights were bestowed upon Samir Hang Limboo, Copy Editor of Sikkim Express, and Ushnata Chettri, Sub-Editor of ‘Hamro Prajashakti,’ respectively.
The Minister also presented a grant of Rupees Five lakhs to the Press Club of Sikkim (PCS) under the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Grant (CMDG). The Grameen Patrakarita Purashkar, awarded annually by the PCS, was presented to Sukhraj (Aaron) Rai, founder of 'Swatantra Aawaj,' recognizing his significant contributions in presenting stories of rural areas through social media.
Expressing gratitude on behalf of the press fraternity, Shekhar Khawas, PCS President, thanked the Chief Minister for the financial assistance and unwavering support extended to media personnel in the state. The event reached its intellectual zenith with a captivating talk on 'Media in the Era of Artificial Intelligence' delivered by Karma Paljor, a noted Journalist and TV anchor.
Paljor, while acknowledging the increasing integration of AI in media and journalism, especially in sports journalism, dispelled the notion of AI replacing human touch. He described AI technological advancements as 'evolution' rather than 'revolution,' emphasizing the critical role that journalists play in infusing stories with a soul. The fear of AI technology overshadowing human skills, he noted, is a natural sentiment, but humans remain in control. Highlighting the symbiotic relationship between AI and its human monitors, he asserted that AI lacks the creativity, originality, and human touch that journalists provide.
The celebration embraced a comprehensive approach, featuring a documentary video prepared by the IPR Department on the recent flood in Sikkim. The event's canvas included a warm welcome by Karma Doma Youtso, Secretary, IPRD, and a gracious vote of thanks extended by Umesh Sunam, Director, IPRD.
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