New Delhi, June 23: The first Praful Bidwai Memorial Award has gone to the Peopleâ€™s Archive of Rural India (PARI), which was set up in 2014 by noted Mumbai-based journalist and commentator, Palagummi Sainath.
According to the award citation, PARI is being recognised for recording and documenting rural India in all its diversity: â€œBold in conceptualisation and innovative in methodology, it uses the tools of digital communication, the practice of data storage, and the principles of good journalism to capture the layered realities of a region that is home to over 800 million people speaking in an estimated 700 languages.â€
The Award was set up to commemorate the life and work of one of Indiaâ€™s most outstanding journalists as well as accomplished author, committed activist and public intellectual, so that his legacy would inspire others. Bidwai was an extremely successful columnist, whose articles on a range of subjects appeared regularly in newspapers and journals in India and globally for over two decades. He was also an internationally recognized and awarded author, a much valued Fellow of the Transnational Institute, Amsterdam, and his last book, â€˜The Phoenix Momentâ€™, which was published posthumously in November 2014, was a magisterial look at the role of Left parties in India. A compilation of his selected writings on nuclear energy and nuclear disarmament has just been brought out by the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), India, of which he was a founding member.
The award ceremony was held at Constitution Club, New Delhi, on June 23, 2016, which marked his first death anniversary. Five representatives of the PARI team received the award from Meera Ganorkar, Bidwaiâ€™s sister. Professor Romila Thapar chaired the event, during which the editor of the Economic and Political Weekly, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, as well as P.Sainath, spoke about the crisis of journalism in contemporary India and how it could be addressed.
The informally constituted Praful Bidwai Memorial Committee, set up by his friends shortly after his death last year, is anchoring this annual event.