People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI) team led by socially committed journalist P Sainath has bagged the prestigious Prem Bhatia Award 2020 for Outstanding Journalism. PARI team is awarded for their “extensive field reports, including climate change effects and the impact of the pandemic on rural India”. This is the 24th award bagged by PARI since its establishment in 2014.
Prem Bhatia award was first instituted in 1995 in the memory of eminent journalist Prem Bhatia (1911-1995). The award was instituted to propagate the values that he stood for: objective reporting, fearless pursuit of truth, and a commitment to improving the standards of journalism in India. Breaking away from the tradition of honouring individual journalists, the award has been bestowed on “PARI collectively for its army of field reporters, volunteers, and its dedicated team”.
P Sainath established PARI website in 2014 to archive and document the issues of rural India through its field reporting. The website is reporting extensively about the pandemic outbreak and the lockdown. To date, PARI has documented more than 100 stories and vital documents about Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown. The reports cover over 30 regions across 20 states and Union Territories. The reporting has extensively covered the impact of the lockdown on various aspects of the rural Indian economy including farmers, boatmen, urban and rural labourers, weavers, toy-makers, other artisans and craftspeople, sanitation workers, cancer patients from rural areas and Dalits and Adivasis in various occupations amongst others.
Along with PARI, the Indian Express Special Correspondent Dipankar Ghose has won the Prem Bhatia Award for political reporting for his work on issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic, including the migrant labour crisis.
On July 6, Ghose reported about the children of Musahari tola, a Mahadalit colony in Badbilla village, who had turned to rag-picking and begging after the mid-day meal scheme, which guaranteed one stable meal a day, came to a halt as schools were closed.
Taking note of the report within hours of it being published, the Bihar government issued an order to provide rations as well as money through Direct Benefit Transfer to all school children across the state for 80 working days from May to July.
The Patna High Court and the National Human Rights Commission also took suo motu cognizance of the report.
Noted earlier recipients of the Prem Bhatia award includes Raj Chengappa (1999), Kingshuk Nag and Bharat Desai (2002), Praveen Swamy (2003), P Sainath (2004), Varghese K. George (2005), Navika Kumar (2006), Pallavi Aiyar (2007), Nirupama Subramanian (2008), Neerja Chowdhury (2009), Ritu Sareen (2010), Josy Joseph and Jyotirmoy Dey (2011), P. R. Ramesh and Shalini Singh(2012), Jaideep Hardikar and Shalini Singh(2013), Nitin Sethi and Smita Gupta(2014), Ms. Suhasini Haider and Priyanka Kakodkar(2015)
Gauri Lankesh Media congratulates PARI – an alternative yet very important journalistic on bagging the prestigious honour. We also wish that the team continues to work with the rigour and spirit it is best known for.