There are few occasions when an award or recognition honours the right person. In a world where corporates, interest groups, religious heads and corrupt politicians enjoy clear sway over the media, it’s indeed a rarity to see serious public interest journalism that speak for the underprivileged get recognized and honoured. Most of the awards and fellowships in the field of mass media are controlled by powerful corporates and they normally reach only those who are subservient and pliable.
It’s in this context, the committee that chose NDTV’s Ravish Kumar for the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award deserves applause and appreciation. Initiated in 1957, it’s the highest honour in Asia that celebrates the memory and the standards in leadership set by the third Philippine President after whom the award has been named. Every year, individuals or organizations in Asia who engage in selfless service, and are transformative influencers in the manner of the late Philippine president, are awarded.
Like elsewhere in the world, in India too, responsible journalism requires enormous courage these days. Often, journalists lose their fighting spirit under threat, intimidation and appeasement and simply surrender to the ruling elites. Newspapers and television channels desist from engaging in their role of critically examining government programs and policies. The all-pervasive crony capitalism has succeeded in reducing journalists to the role of stenographers, with no ability to critically engage with issues and events.