Independent journalists from different parts of India bagged all the awards in the PII-ICRC Awards 2015 Best Article on a Humanitarian Subject category. While Neha Dixit from New Delhi bagged the first prize, Shazia Yousuf based in Kashmir won the second. The third prize was shared by Gawahati-based Priyanka Borpujari and New Delhi’s Saurabh Yadav.
In the Best Photograph category, photojournalist Biju Boro of Asomiya Pratidin and Rishabh Jain of Dainik Bhaskar, Udaipur, jointly received the third prize. The first and the second prizes in the Photograph category were not awarded. All the awards presented related to print.
Neha Dixit’s story, ‘Anyone here been raped and speaks English’, had appeared in Outlook. Shazia Yousuf’s piece for Women’s Feature Service focused on the post-Kashmir floods, ‘Can you imagine life without a toilet?’ Priyanka Borpujari had written in The Times of India on ‘Longing for home, and a clean toilet’. Her article also included gender-insensitive ways of aid agencies. Saurabh Yadav’s story in The Hindu BusinessLine opened readers’ eyes to being ‘Bloodthirsty in Bodoland’.
Biju Boro’s picture showed a dead mother with a dead child clinging to her body in the floods where 91 people were killed in Goalpora, Assam. Rishab Jain’s picture with the caption, ‘Life swings on waves for seven hours’, had two girls and their parents who had got struck in the floods and were saved by a diver at Nandeshwar, Sisarma, Udaipur, Rajasthan.
Congratulating the winners, Mary Werntz, head of Regional Delegation, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), New Delhi said, “I am hoping that our winners today will re-dedicate themselves to their profession and see the awards being given to them as a call to greater service not just for their profession but in the service of humanity.” She added, “The power of the media cannot be over-emphasised and there can be no greater service than leveraging that power for the good of the human being, especially those caught up in the throes of conflict, violence and in some cases, natural disasters.”
For both the categories, 85 entries were received and they covered a wide variety of humanitarian issues, ranging from the floods in Kashmir to the earthquake in Nepal and reflected on how the natural disasters impacted the lives of communities caught in their path. Some entries provided an exposé of the condition of women and children in emergency situations—issues that are often ignored by mainstream media. The huge number of entries and high quality of the content submitted understandably made the job of the judges rather taxing and challenging. The jury members included Seema Mustafa, senior journalist and author; Dr Jaya Shridhar, journalist and health adviser; Srinivas Burra, assistant professor, South Asian University; and Wasbir Hussain, political commentator and strategic analyst.
Kick-starting proceedings at the awards ceremony on December 2 at the India International Centre in New Delhi, Surinder Singh Oberoi, Communication and Political adviser at ICRC, New Delhi, introduced the speakers, including Murali Krishan, senior journalist.
The awards ceremony was preceded by a panel discussion on ‘Reporting on the fate of victims of natural /man-made disasters’. Members of the media fraternity had a chance to make their points during the question and answer round that followed. Sashi Nair, director, Press Institute of India, and Dr Jaya Shreedhar were unable to attend the awards function due to unprecedented rains and floods in Chennai and flights being cancelled. Priyanka Borpujari, joint third prize winner, was also not present.