“The PEN acts as a sword and fights for the uplift of the deprived and downtrodden.”
– Vijay Darda
Vijay Darda, chairman of Lokmat Media Group is a pioneering and award-winning journalist of the country. He completed his Diploma in Journalism and Printing Technology from Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai University in 1970. He proactively plays the role of a media watchdog and has been a crusader for freedom of press.
Darda believes that newspapers should have a positive and constructive approach towards the process of nation building. While he is elated by the expansive influence of the media, its apparent decline in probity and ethics worries him. He is also perturbed by its growing preference for sensationalism at the expense of factual reporting.
Darda carries forward the values and virtues laid down by his father and freedom fighter Jawaharlal Darda while establishing Lokmat. The philosophy of ‘Patrakarita Parmo Dharma’ has been the binding factor for all the journalists here. He emphasizes that media being the fourth pillar of democracy can be a vehicle for change in the country.
Darda has often raised his voice against the social woes, economic hardships and political maladies through his writings and weekly columns published in various national and regional dailies. He has been honoured with several prestigious awards in recognition of his contributions towards enhancing the standards of journalism.
He was conferred with Feroze Gandhi Memorial Award (1990-91) for his exemplary contribution in strengthening national integration through investigative journalism, presented by former Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao. Other honours include Nemichand Shrishrimal Foundation Award (1996) and Brijlal Biyani Award for Journalism (2006).
During his five-decade long career, Darda served national and international media bodies in different capacities. As the president of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) and chairman of the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), he took measures to prevent violence against scribes. He also played a crucial role in scrapping anti-dumping duty on newsprint and providing concessional electricity tariff for newspaper establishments.
Darda was also instrumental in setting up the South Asian Editors Forum (SAEF), whose idea took root during an editors’ conference at Colombo in 1999 when the Kargil war was at its peak. Few months later, during the subsequent meeting at Kathmandu, editors unanimously supported the plan and insisted on him taking up the role as Founding President.
Darda underpins the effectiveness of media in South Asia to defuse the tension between Pakistan and India over the contentious Kashmir issue. In an interview to the leading Pakistani English newspaper, ‘The Dawn’, he highlighted India’s consistency in upholding the democratic values, as well as media’s freedom of expression prevailing in the country.
He has also been a member of organisations like World Association of Newspapers (WAN) France, Commonwealth Press Association (CPA) UK, Commonwealth Press Union (CPU) UK, International Advertising Association (IAA) USA, Indian Languages Newspapers’ Association (ILNA), Press Council of India (PCI) and Press Institute of Maharashtra (PIM).
Darda also established the world’s first statue of ‘Freedom of Press’ which was unveiled at the hands of the Union Home Minister Suchilkumar Shinde in 2013 at the Lokmat printing press in Butibori, Nagpur.