India Gate: A journalism award that went unnoticed

Awards have been pouring on journalists in March, some old and some new. While the first Kuldip Nayar award to NDTV’s Ravish Kumar was widely shared, no attention was paid to KCK International Award



Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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Vishwadeepak

The prize money in cash was a whopping ₹7 crore (US $11,000). President Pranab Mukherjee gave away the awards in the national capital. But for some strange reason, the event received scant coverage in the national media. When did Indian media houses or Trusts give awards to international journalists? Somebody should have also explored why the award went to a Kenyan and not someone from the neighbourhood, Europe or the United States. But barring brief mentions in obscure corners, Karpoor Chandra Kulish International Award for Excellence in Print Journalism instituted by one of the leading media houses, Rajasthan Patrika, received no attention.


While Kenyan journalist Wanjohi Kabukuru received the award for 2014 for his investigative report, “How East Africa Lost its Innocence”, the award for 2015 was collectively given to the Dehradun edition of the Hindi newspaper Amar Ujala, again a first as no award so far had recognised the team work of any Bureau or edition.


Rajasthan Patrika apparently wanted to match the prize money given to Pulitzer Prize winners for literature, journalism and music compositions annually in the US by the Columbia University. The century-old Pulitzer Prize has just been increased to $15,000 though.


Karpoor Chandra Kulish, founder of Rajasthan Patrika, is said to have started the newspaper in 1956 after borrowing ₹500 in 1956.


Gossip among a section of the capital’s journalists was that the scant publicity was triggered by the last minute selection of the eventual venue, Constitution Club. While Patrika wanted to hold it in a star hotel, it was ruled out because the President apparently does not visit hotels under protocol. The Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Vigyan Bhavan were already booked, but organisers did not want to extend the date of the award because it coincided with the founder’s birthday. Hence the last-minute choice of venue. Or so what is being talked about.

When Sushma Swaraj blocked a journo on Twitter

The Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj is popular among journalists and people alike. Her Twitter diplomacy in particular, coming to the rescue of people stranded abroad after misplacing passports, or those who complain on Twitter for delay in receiving visa etc., has endeared her to people.


But piqued at uncomfortable questions posed persistently by a reporter from India TV, the minister took the unusual step of blocking him out. The reporter had been seeking her reaction on the complaint by one Rakesh Agarwal and his wife from Mumbai who had flown to Bangkok to see their ailing son. Agarwal tweeted to the minister seeking her help in arranging an air ambulance.


With the minister maintaining a studied silence (it was not her responsibility in any case), Agarwal requisitioned an air ambulance from Medanta, which crashed before landing in Bangkok, killing the pilot and seriously injuring the doctor. When the minister offered her condolences, Agarwal snapped that she only helped Muslims and for political reasons. He was then trolled by BJP supporters on Twitter. The poor reporter, it seems, had sought the minister’s reaction.

RSS takes to films for propaganda

Trust a fast changing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to organise a short film festival in Bengal, its next laboratory. The objective of the short film festival, say RSS insiders, is to promote nationalism. Organised by its media wing, Vishwa Samvad Kendra, the theme is said to be “Manush Chai”. As many as 50 short films have been received, claim insiders. While the films would promote ‘ Humanism’ of Swami Vivekananda, says the RSS, its critics are apprehensive that the objective is to promote ‘Hindutva’.

Has PK resigned?

While the media have been looking for ‘PK’ (election strategist and consultant Prashant Kishor), another ‘PK’ in the PMO, PK Mishra, is believed to have expressed a desire to quit on ground of poor health. The bureaucrat, who retired in 2007-08, was retained by Narendra Modi when he was chief minister of Gujarat. And when Modi came to Delhi as PM, he brought PK with him. Perceived as more powerful than Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the Cabinet Secretary, he deals with all the important appointments, especially in the PSUs.

The first edition of a weekly column by National Herald correspondent, Vishwa Deepak

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