Palagummi Sainath, the rural affairs editor of The Hindu, has been awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2007, in the “Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts” category for “his passionate commitment as a journalist to restore the rural poor to India’s national consciousness.”
Sainath becomes the sixth Indian journalist to win the Award named after the third president of the Philippines, which is also considered the Nobel Prize of Asia.
“Sainath’s authoritative reporting led Indian authorities to address certain discrete abuses and to enhance relief efforts,” reads the citation. “Sainath discovered that the acute misery of India’s poorest districts was not caused by drought, as the government said. It was rooted in India’s enduring structural inequalities—in poverty, illiteracy, and caste discrimination—and exacerbated by recent economic reforms favouring foreign investment and privatisation.”
Sainath, grandson of the late Indian President V.V. Giri, was born in Madras in 1957, worked at Blitz under Rusi Karanjia, earned a Times of India fellowship which ironically helped him turned out the bestselling Everybody loves a good drought, and eventually landed him at The Hindu where he has made it his life’s mission to bring to light the plight of the marginalised and the sidelined.
“In the early twentieth century, the press was at the heart of India’s freedom struggle. During those formative years, journalism contributed to “the liberation of the human being.” In contrast, he says, India’s press today merely performs “stenography” for big business and the governing elite India’s press today is “creating audiences that have no interest in other human beings.”
Read the citation here: Palagummi Sainath
Read a fine essay here: Lost the compass?
Photograph courtesy: Sadanand Menon