Democracy is not only about numbers but also about respecting each other’s point of view, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu said on Wednesday. Delivering the keynote address at the 12th edition of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, Naidu said, “I am now an all party-man and as the Chairman of Rajya Sabha, I need to fulfils my obligations of impartiality and neutrality which apply to good quality journalism as well. I have also learnt that discussion and dialogue, exchange of ideas, reconciling seemingly irreconcilable differences to achieve consensus are fundamental to the vibrancy and health of parliamentary democracy. Democracy is not only about numbers but also to understand and appreciates each other’s point of view. We must debate, discuss, decide and deliver.” The Vice-President, who was the chief guest, also presented awards to 27 journalists — in 25 categories, including print and broadcast, English and vernacular — for outstanding work done in 2016.
Reflecting on the responsibility of the media, Naidu said, “In my view, the media’s role should be the empowerment of people through information, social mobilisation, building partnerships, catalysing individual and collective actions for betterment of lives and promoting peace and harmony, and supporting national reconstruction. Every news report should result in enhanced level of understanding and inspire action.” Referring to the awards, Naidu said, “These awards, instituted in the name of such a doyen of freedom of speech and expression, have rightly emerged as the most coveted journalism awards in the country. Ramnath Goenka embodied the finest qualities of journalism of courage and commitment: fierce independence, relentless pursuit of facts, robust determination to withstand pressures, to constantly ask questions and to uphold the principles of freedom of expression in the face of every challenge. These attributes also constitute the highest principles of citizenship and are necessary for strengthening our democracy.”
The awards ceremony was an acknowledgment of stories that pushed the boundaries in 2016. From a hard-hitting report on the violence in Kashmir following the killing of militant Burhan Wani to a heart-warming story of young rural women chasing big-city dreams; from an in-depth report capturing the fear and anxiety in Dhaka following the terror attacks to an eight-month investigation into the Panama papers that revealed names of Indians linked to offshore firms. Ravish Kumar of NDTV India won the award in the Hindi Journalism category for blanking out the screen on his primetime show to make viewers realise the darkness in world of television media. For his reports capturing the aftermath in Kashmir following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, Abhishek Saha of The Hindustan Times won the award in the Reporting From J&K and The Northeast category. In the Uncovering India Invisible category S V Rajesh, Malayala Manorama, bagged the honour for his series that documented the poverty and lack of infrastructure in a tribal village panchayat in Kerala.
Ritu Sarin, P Vaidyanathan Iyer and Jay Mazoomdaar of The Indian Express were awarded in the Investigative Reporting category, for their exhaustive investigation into the Panama papers that revealed the names of Indians linked to offshore firms. In the Foreign Correspondent Covering India category, Ellen Barry of The New York Times won the award for her story on young rural women in India chasing big-city dreams. For his searing indictment of the British Raj in his book ‘An Era Of Darkness: The British Empire In India’, Shashi Tharoor won the award in the Books (Non-Fiction) category.
The winners were chosen by an eminent jury, including former Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna, HDFC Ltd chairman Deepak Parekh, former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi and senior journalist Pamela Philipose, from over 800 entries that came in from all parts of the country, many of them in regional languages. The Express Group instituted the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards in 2006 as part of the centenary year celebrations of its founder, Ramnath Goenka. The awards aim to celebrate excellence in journalism, recognise courage and commitment and showcase the outstanding contributions of journalists from across the country.