Ravish Kumar on Friday was awarded this year's Ramon Magsaysay Award, regarded as the Asian version of the Nobel Prize.
Kumar, 44, who is NDTV India's senior executive editor, is one of India's most influential TV journalists, the award citation by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation said.
Kumar's "Prime Time" programme "deals with real-life, under-reported problems of ordinary people", it added.
"If you have become the voice of the people, you are a journalist," the citation added.
Wishes are pouring in from renowned faces including Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Rajdeep Sardesai. However, Prime Minister Modi is yet to congratulate Kumar on his win.
It could be because Ravish Kumar had done a fact check on several of his claims and exposed them to be factually untrue. After Modi’s apolitical interview with Akshay Kumar, Ravish Kumar took note of it and did an apolitical ‘Prime Time’ on that day.
There were demands from various quarters during the election season that PM Modi give an interview to Ravish Kumar and not only to Arnab Goswami and Rajat Sharma. In fact, there was a Change.org petition on it too.
Here are the many congratulatory messages:
Here you can read the entire award citation:
The world’s largest democracy, India has seen the space for an independent and responsible Indian press shrink over the past years. The factors behind this are many: a changing media landscape because of new information technologies, the increased marketization of news and opinions, growing government control, and, most worrisome, the rise of popular authoritarianism and religious, ethnic, and nationalist fundamentalisms with their consequent divisiveness, intolerance, and susceptibilities to violence.
An important voice against these threats is television journalist Ravish Kumar.
Raised in Jitwarpur village in Hindi-speaking Bihar, northeast India, Ravish pursued his early interest in history and public affairs through postgraduate studies in history from Delhi University. In 1996, he joined New Delhi Television Network (NDTV), one of India’s leading TV networks and worked his way up from being a field reporter. After NDTV launched its 24-hour Hindi-language news channel — NDTV India — targeting the country’s 422 million native speakers of Hindi, he was given his own daily show, “Prime Time.” Today, as NDTV India’s senior executive editor, Ravish is one of India’s most influential TV journalists.
His more important distinction, however, comes from the kind of journalism he represents. In a media environment threatened by an interventionist state, toxic with jingoist partisans, trolls and purveyors of “fake news,” and where the competition for market ratings has put the premium on “media personalities,” “tabloidization,” and audience-pandering sensationalism, Ravish has been most vocal on insisting that the professional values of sober, balanced, fact-based reporting be upheld in practice.
His “Prime Time” program on NDTV India takes up current social issues; does serious background research; and presents issues in well-rounded discussions that can run up to twenty or more episodes.
The program deals with real-life, under-reported problems of ordinary people — from the lives of manual scavengers and rickshaw-pullers to the plight of government employees and displaced farmers, to underfunded state schools and the inefficient railway system. Ravish interacts easily with the poor, travels extensively, and uses social media to stay in touch with his audience, generating from them the stories for his program. Striving for a people-based journalism, he calls his newsroom “the people’s newsroom.”
Ravish is not above engaging in some theatrics himself if he feels it effective, as in an innovative show he did in 2016 to dramatize how debased the discourse had become on TV news programs. The show opens with Ravish coming on screen to talk to the viewers about how TV news programs had descended into a “dark world” of angry, strident voices. The screen then goes dark and, for the next hour, there is nothing but a cacophonous audio of sound bites from actual TV programs, venomous threats, hysterical rants, the sounds of a mob baying for the blood of enemies. For Ravish, it is always about the message, dispassionately delivered.
As an anchor, Ravish is sober, incisive, and well-informed. He does not dominate his guests but affords them the chance to express themselves. He does not balk, however, at calling the highest officials to account or criticizing media and the state of public discourse in the country; for this reason, he has been harassed and threatened by rabid partisans of one kind or another. Through all the perils and aggravations, Ravish has remained consistent in his effort to preserve and widen the space for a critical, socially responsible media. Keeping faith with a journalism that puts service to the people at its center, Ravish sums up what he believes a journalist is in the most basic terms: “If you have become the voice of the people, you are a journalist.”
In electing Ravish Kumar to receive the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes his unfaltering commitment to a professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards; his moral courage in standing up for truth, integrity, and independence; and his principled belief that it is in giving full and respectful voice to the voiceless, in speaking truth bravely yet soberly to power, that journalism fulfills its noblest aims to advance democracy.