Mumbai Press Club’s ‘RedInk Journalism Awards’ were held at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai on 7 June 2017. The theme for the year was Gulzar’s famous poem “Agar Tum Nahin Toh Kaun”, which translates to “If not you, then who?” The evening saw the best and the most enterprising journalists of 2016 being awarded across 15 categories, with the winners being felicitated by Maharashtra CM, Devendra Fadnavis.
Here is The Quint’s curation of selected award-winning entries of this year. For the complete list of winning stories, follow the Mumbai Press Club’s Twitter handle.
The Big Picture
Ashish Sharma from OPEN magazine won the RedInk photography award for his images of Kashmir during the unrest last year.
Hindustan Times’ Kunal Pradip Patil also shared the Big Picture award with Sharma.
Scroll.in reporters Ipsita Chakravarty and Rayan Naqash won this award in the print category for their reportage on the unrest in Kashmir after Burhan Wani was killed in July 2016. They reported on the state of education in the curfewed state, media balckouts, juvenile detainees among other sensitive issues. A piece by the duo, featured by the jury, was a ground-report after a violent army raid in a small village in Kashmir. An excerpt:
On the night of August 17, soldiers of the Indian Army stormed into Ahmed’s village of Shar-i-Shali, where they attacked homes, beat up residents and killed one person. The village lies near the town of Khrew, whose tall cement factories can be seen from miles away. Both town and village are located in the Pampore area of Pulwama, a place known for its fields of saffron. A First Information Report was filed at the Pampore police station the next day. The Army said the raid was not sanctioned and promised to conduct an investigation.
Abhisar Sharma from ABP News won the award in the television category for his coverage on the death of Hidma, a day after the police took him away on the suspicion of him being a naxalite, even though he had an Aadhar card. He shared the award with Maya Mirchandani from NDTV.
Frontline’s R K Radhakrishnan won this award in the print category for his investigation into bribery in the run up to the May 2016 Assembly Elections in Tamil Nadu. The investigation spanned several months and tracked down creative new ways contesting parties have found to bribe voters and evade the Election Commission and resulted in the winning long-form story “We Pay, You Vote”. An excerpt:
The investigation, which began in January, found that money or gifts were distributed to voters by prospective candidates. The EC had not begun monitoring the election at that stage as the model code of conduct had not come into force. Gifts were given to winners of “kolam” (traditional floor drawings) competitions for women, festival-eve competitions for men, women and children, and cricket, volleyball, kabbadi and even football tournaments for men. This correspondent is aware of a prospective candidate stocking 1.5 lakh sarees in his constituency, which, according to one person involved in the “operation”, were distributed after the competitions. “The distribution of gifts began in January itself when there was no model code,” said a person who was involved in and handled the distribution of multiple products such as kitchen ware, sportswear and sports goods.
Srinivasan Jain from NDTV won this award in the television category for the edition “Aadhar’s One Billion Challenge” in his award-winning investigative series Truth vs Hype. Jain travels to rural Rajasthan to find out the ground-reality of the workings of the Aadhar mechanism and the problems being faced by people due to the sudden push from the government to make it increasingly necessary for access to basic amenities.
A team of four journalists from Firstpost won this award in the print category for their relentless coverage of the drought in Marathwada and Latur in Maharashtra last year. Tushar Dhara, Sanjay Sawant, Shraddha Ghatge and Neeradh Pandaripande reported on this drought crisis in a many-part series. Here’s an excerpt from one which was featured at the awards.
In a small tent, a woman checks the growing list of people who have left their villages in the hope of a marginally better life. Journalists and photographers saunter around, armed with notebooks and camera tripods. A concerned woman — speaking fluent Gujarati one minute and equally fluent Marathi the next — brings theplas. An 11-year-old boy named Sachin offers water to his six-month-old brother in the scorching heat in a 6x8 brick-marked area allotted to them, while his parents are away working at a construction site. He later joins the queue where food is being distributed.
To read more stories from this award-winning series, click here.
Raj Narain Mishra from Dainik Jagran and Rajesh Kumar from India News also won this award for their drought coverage in the print and television categories, respectively.
Sarika Malhotra from Business Today magazine won this award in the print category for her story “The Real Cost of Water”. The in-depth article looks at the intricacies of the lopsided price economics of water by examining water thefts, pollution, groundwater consumption, decreasing rainfall and industry guzzlers across India. An excerpt:
Groundwater consumption in India is not only the highest in the world, but also increasing the fastest. Apart from UP, the worst off states, according to a 2011 CGWA estimate, are Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. A 2009 study by NASA along with the University of California, California Institute of Technology and the University of Udine (Italy) paints an alarming picture in Punjab and Haryana: “Water is being pumped and consumed by human activities - principally to irrigate cropland - faster than the aquifers can be replenished by natural processes...Groundwater levels have been declining by an average of one metre every three years. More than 109 cubic km of groundwater disappeared between 2002 and 2008.”
CNBC TV18’s Archana Shukla bagged this award in the television category for her ground report “Inside Bastar” where she does a spot check within villages on infrastructure, amenities and the government’s attempts to mainstream these naxal-hit areas.
Lifestyle and Entertainment
Kathakali Chanda from Forbes India won this award in the print category for her thoroughly-researched and carefully pieced-together story on Kolkata’s Chinatowns, “Will The Dragon Dance Again?” Chanda explores the effect of the 1962 Indo-China war on the then thriving Chinese population in Kolkata with raw anecdotes from people and then renews hope in the reader by telling the story of the heritage conservation Cha Project. An excerpt:
The insularity of the Chinese community in Kolkata contrasts with the fact that it had initially been an exception among its global counterparts in the way it had co-existed with other migrant communities in the Calcutta of the 19th century. “The development of Chinatowns around the world has been a racial process. Hence, most Chinatowns became an exclusionary urban space. Their touristy interface came later. The older Chinatown in Kolkata, on the other hand, existed in close proximity to the Anglo-Indian, Armenian, Jewish, Parsi and all other communities,” says Jayani Bonnerjee, a cultural geographer and an assistant professor at Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities in Sonipat, Haryana.
Biju Pankaj from Mathrubhumi News won this award in the television category.
Health and Wellness
Scroll.in’s Priyanka Vohra won this award in the print category for her coverage of the outbreak of Japanese encephalitis in Odisha. She tracked factors such as malnourishment and poor healthcare as causes for the outbreak, her featured story being her first story in the series. In it, Vohra studies a report that confirms the death of 100 children due to the disease and that it could have been prevented with a simple vaccine. An excerpt:
The three-year-old was in agony. Her body was convulsed with seizures, she was running a high temperature and she could not stop vomiting. On September 16, when Gayatri Madkami was brought to the district hospital of Malkangiri in Odisha, the only large government hospital in 5,791 square kilometres, Dr Santosh Mishra, the sole paediatrician at the hospital, was reminded of November 2014. That month, 12 children had been admitted to the hospital with symptoms similar to Madkami’s. He could only save one. The others died within hours.
Archana Shukla of CNBC TV18 won her second award of the night in the television category, this time for her ground-report on the rural villages in Punjab where every second boy and every third girl is a drug addict.
Alia Allana from the long-form magazine Fountain Ink won this award in the print category for her story “The India Connection” on how drug exports to the Middle East are fuelling a dangerous addiction there and how Vicky Goswami and Bollywood actress Mamta Kulkarni came to be involved in the mafia drug business in Middle East and West Africa. An excerpt:
Mukhi’s confession brought the picture together; the Mohammad Ali Road deal was the beginning of the smuggling racket, he said. Three bags of ephedrine, weighing 70 kg, were flown from Mumbai to Nairobi for Goswami’s approval. When the don was satisfied with the purity, he asked for the note number in the hawala system so that he could pay for the powder. This deal put into practice Goswami’s most ambitious caper: importing precursors from India’s pharmaceutical industry to manufacture meth in Africa’s lawless countries.
Atir Khan from India Today TV won this award in the television category for his sting operation in Port Luis, Mauritius which laid bare the trail of kickbacks from the AugustaWestland Chopper scam. Khan, along with his team, managed to enter the office of Shakil Fakeermahamood, who the ED believe managed the flow of money for Gautam Khaitan.
Science and Innovation
Nithyanand Rao and Virat Markandeya from The Wire won this award in the print category for their joint contribution to the technical story “Why India’s Most Sophisticated Science Experiment Languishes Between a Rock and a Hard Place”. The duo delve into Tamil Nadu politics, sluggishness of the administration, the anti-nuclear front and human rights issues to investigate why only after a year of being sanctioned, work on the multi-crore Neutrino Observatory has stalled in the state. An excerpt:
It is clear that once the construction begins, the villagers would lose access to a part of their grazing land. The scientists say these concerns had indeed been raised during their interactions before the environmental clearance was granted in 2011, and that the villagers were convinced that there will be no restrictions on grazing on the land outside the fenced area. It is curious that these issues have resurfaced after four years. The villagers also appeared worried by claims by Vaiko and the activists that radioactive contamination of the area would destroy all the vegetation and that women would suffer miscarriages.
Amir Rafiq Peerzada from NDTV won this award in the television category for a mini-documentary he produced while he was a part of a group of 20 people who marched to a remote village in Ladakh to give them their first taste of electricity.
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