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Sainath gets Magsaysay Award

Special Correspondent


Chennai: P. Sainath, Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu, is among the seven awardees of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2007, it was announced in Manila on Tuesday. The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation said that Mr. Sainath won the award in the category ‘Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts.’ The award will be presented in Manila on August 31.

The Board of Trustees of the Foundation recognised Mr. Sainath for his “passionate commitment as a journalist to restore the rural poor to India’s national consciousness.”

Mr. Sainath is the sixth Indian print media journalist to win the award. The previous awardee was R.K. Laxman in 1984. Mr. Sainath, on learning of the award, said: “This award is as much The Hindu’s as it is mine… If my work has won the recognition it just has, it is because there was a newspaper backing it unreservedly and giving me total freedom of movement and agenda.” He said he would use the award to push the issue of agrarian crisis much harder.

According to the citation accompanying the award, “Sainath’s authoritative reporting led Indian authorities to address certain discrete abuses and to enhance relief efforts.” It added: “Sainath discovered that the acute misery of India’s poorest districts was not caused by drought, as the government said. It was rooted in India’s enduring structural inequalities — in poverty, illiteracy, and caste discrimination — and exacerbated by recent economic reforms favouring foreign investment and privatisation.”

Mr. Sainath joined The Hindu in June 2004 and wrote extensively on the agrarian crisis. He also reported on issues relating to Dalits, caste violence, water, food and hunger, employment, inequality, and media developments. Before he formally joined the staff of The Hindu, he contributed a large number of stories and photographs to the newspaper’s Sunday Magazine and to Frontline.

Mr. Sainath has won several prestigious awards and fellowships, including the B.D. Goenka prize for Excellence in Journalism in 2000, the Prem Bhatia Journalism Prize, the European Commission’s Lorenzo Natali prize, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties’ Human Rights Journalism Prize, 1995, and the Eisenhower Fellowship.

His reports on some of the poorest districts of the country were published as a book — Everybody loves a Good Drought. His photo exhibition, “Visible Work, Invisible Women,” has been exhibited in several cities in India and in the United States, Canada, Japan, South Africa, and Switzerland.

Established in 1957 in memory of the third Philippine president, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is given every year to individuals or organisations in Asia in recognition of their selfless service in different fields.

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