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PII-ICRC Awards presented

Journalists from Open, The Week, The Telegraph and Sahara Times bagged the top spots for the PII-ICRC Awards for the Best Print Media Article focused on humanitarian issues. A freelancer photojournalist, who contributes to The New Indian Express, and a photographer from The Hindu won awards in the Best Photograph category.

In the print category, Sohini Chattopadhyay of Open Magazine won the first prize, while Lakshmi Subramanian of The Week was awarded the second prize. Pervez Majeed Lone of Sahara Times Magazine and Sumir Karmakar from The Telegraph shared the third prize. In the Best Photograph category, photojournalist Pattabi Raman won the Second prize while the third prize went to Manob Chowdhury of The Hindu. The first prize in the Best Photograph category was not awarded.

All the prizes were presented on November 26 at a glittering function held at the India International Centre in New Delhi after a panel discussion on the theme, Reporting on the Fate of Victims of Armed Violence. The session was moderated by guest of honour Prem Shankar Jha. The panelists, comprising the jury members, were columnists and senior journalists Pamela Philipose, Shreekumar Varma and Ranjona Banerji.

Buddha’s Orphans, the piece by Sohini Chattopadhyay, who resides in Kolkata, published in the Open Magazine in March this year, tells the story of the Rohingyas of Myanmar who have become the ‘nowhere people’ of Asia. “I wanted to tell the story of the Rohingyas, as theirs is not an oft-told or heard story. I believed I was on the trail of a good story. The award is vindication of my belief,” said Chattopadhyay.

Chennai-based Lakshmi Subramanian had travelled to Sri Lanka to write her story, Peace and Its Price, published in The Week. Her article throws light on the displaced in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, who are struggling to make ends meet in the aftermath of violence and say that peace has not brought them freedom.

Karmakar’s (based in Guwahati) entry, Fear stalks Karbi Anglong Refugees, focuses on the displaced people of Assam’s Karbi Anglong District. Lone, whose home is in Srinagar, in his winning article, Valley’s Wonders, wrote about the resurgence of hope in Kashmir as its youth make a mark in the Indian Civil Services exams. “The award is a recognition of the efforts of journalists everywhere who report pro-human. For me, it is also a tribute to the youth of Kashmir who have come out of the trauma of the violent past and overcome the odds,” said Lone.

Freelance photojournalist Pattabi Raman, who contributes regularly to The New Indian Express from Puducherry, bagged the second place with his entry, After the War, A Bitter Peace, on the missing people in Sri Lanka. “This is the only award for both journalists and photographers and a great platform for humanitarian journalism,” said Raman. The third prize was won by Manob Chowdhury of The Hindu for a photograph of a civilian victim of a land mine blast in Khunti, near Ranchi.

Welcoming the gathering, Surinder Singh Oberoi, communications advisor at ICRC New Delhi, pointed out that three of the four winning entries focused on the plight of displaced people, an area in which the ICRC does a lot of work across the globe. “The aim of these awards, when instituted back in 2008, was to motivate members of the media community to walk that extra mile to narrate untold stories,” said Mary Werntz, head of the ICRC Delegation for India, Bhutan and the Maldives. Yves Heller, ICRC delegate from Geneva, who was visiting India and was present on the occasion, applauded the winners, “These journalists, who go to remote areas across the world to bring us untold stories, give voice to those victims of armed violence who are often forgotten,” he said.

Sashi Nair, director and editor, Press Institute of India, said that the PII-ICRC Awards were not only a recognition of the hard work journalists put in but also about the risks they took to bring stories to readers. Pointing out that the bar of standards had been raised this year, he said: “The awards are a salute to all journalists across India who bring untold stories to us. The entries show that there is a lot of passion in young journalists today; they have the desire to excel and take pride in their work.” Nair encouraged the journalists present, saying: “If you can combine all that with honesty, truth-telling and credibility, nobody can stop you. I would say journalism in India today is in very capable hands.”

In the group picture are the award winners with their trophies (l-r): photojournalist Pattabi Raman, The New Indian Express; Manob Chowdhury, The Hindu; Pervez Majeed Lone, Sahara Times; Lakshmi Subramanian, The Week; Sohini Chattopadhyay, Open Magazine; and Sumir Karmakar, The Telegraph. Also seen are Prem Shankar Jha, the chief guest, jury members Pamela Philipose, Shreekumar Varma and Ranjona Banerji, Mary Werntz, head of the ICRC Delegation for India, Bhutan and the Maldives, Yves Heller, ICRC delegate from Geneva, who was visiting India, and Sashi Nair, PII director.

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