New Delhi: The Indian media is in a state of “crisis” which is not accidental or random, but systemic and structural, prominent Indian journalist Ravish Kumar said in Manila on Monday as he received the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay award. The prestigious award is widely regarded as the Asian version of the Nobel Prize.
Kumar, 44, is NDTV India’s senior executive editor and one of India’s most influential TV journalists who has been reporting real-life and under-reported problems of ordinary people, said the award citation by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation.
“The Indian media is in a state of crisis and this crisis is not accidental or random, but systemic and structural. Being a journalist has become a solitary endeavour… It has become all the more important to evaluate the crisis in the media,” he said.
“While I am happy for myself today, I am also filled with sadness looking at the state of the profession I represent,” Kumar said.
Kumar was among five individuals who were declared winners of the award, which is Asia’s highest honour and celebrates greatness of spirit and transformative leadership in Asia.
The four other winners are Ko Swe Win from Myanmar, Angkhana Neelapaijit from Thailand, Raymundo Pujante Cayabyab from the Philippines and Kim Jong-Ki from South Korea.
As uncompromising journalists find themselves being forced out of their jobs by news organisations and those corporate owners are never questioned, nevertheless it is heartening to see still some journalists who continue to put their lives and careers at risk to practise honest and meaningful journalism, Kumar said in his speech.
Kumar also touched upon the situation in Kashmir and the communication gag in the Valley following the scrapping of Article 370 on August 5.
“With the internet still shut down in Kashmir, most major news channels went along with the government’s stand, yet there are some who have dared to report from that shutdown and faced the wrath of the army of trolls,” he said. “While institutional journalism is facing a crisis, individual journalists are struggling to survive and question the authority,” Kumar said.
The noted journalist said, “A democracy can thrive only as long as its news and information are truthful”.
“Sometimes resistance is not a matter of choice. Not all battles are fought for victory. Some are fought simply to tell the world that someone was there on the battlefield. I accept this award on behalf of all those journalists,” Kumar said.
Instituted in 1957, the award celebrates the life of Ramon del Fierro Magsaysay, the third President of the Philippines.
The award is given every year to individuals or organisations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late Filipino leader.
Other prominent winners of the Magsaysay award from India are R.K. Laxman, P. Sainath, Arun Shourie, Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal. The chief minister of Delhi also congratulated Kumar after he received the award and welcomed Ravish to the “club of Magsaysay awardees”.
Congratulations Ravish! Every Indian is proud of u. https://t.co/7di0cpAfDD
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) September 9, 2019
Born in Jitwarpur village in Bihar, Kumar joined New Delhi Television Network (NDTV) in 1996 and worked his way up from being a field reporter.
After NDTV launched its 24-hour Hindi-language news channel – NDTV India – targeting the country’s 422 million native speakers of Hindi, he was given his own daily show ‘Prime Time’.
Leaders from various political parties praised Kumar when he was announced as one of the recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay award.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi congratulated Kumar for “for being a brave exception in Indian journalism”
Congratulations to #RavishKumar for being a brave exception in Indian journalism. I know many more like him are waiting to stand up and fight this onslaught on India ?? and its institutions. https://t.co/bBcTIN9ghE
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 2, 2019
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also praised Kumar for keeping “the torch of the courage to tell the truth”.
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) August 2, 2019
The former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti had also praised Kumar and said that he was “one of the few people driven by integrity”.
In a sea of media channels that’ve struck a Faustian bargain to distort the truth, one of the few people driven by integrity is @ndtv’s Ravish Kumar. Glad that he’s been honoured with 2019 Ramon Magsaysay award. Takes guts to speak up & stand out.
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) August 2, 2019
The former chief minister of Karnataka Siddaramaiah also congratulated Kumar for being awarded the Ramon Magsaysay award.
Many congratulations to Shri. @ravishndtv for winning Ramon Magsaysay award.
His upright journalism has been the voice for marginalized &he never feared for political pressure in his fight against those in power.
— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) August 2, 2019
Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien also praised Kumar’s courage and conviction.
. @ravishndtv you champion. You deserve the Magsaysay Award and more. May your courage and conviction inspire your colleagues to never become ‘tamed journalists’
— Derek O'Brien | ডেরেক ও’ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) August 2, 2019
The former chief minister of UP Mayawati congratulated Ravish Kumar for” being honoured with the Raman Magsaysay Award for 2019″.
एनडीटीवी के मैनेजिंग एडिटर व देश के जान-माने पत्रकार रवीश कुमार को सन 2019 का रेमान मैगसेसे एवार्ड से सम्मानित होने पर बधाई। उम्मीद है कि देश का मीडिया जगत जनभावना के अनुरूप लोकतंत्र के चौथे स्तंभ होने की अपनी जिम्मेदारी निर्भीकता के साथ निभाकर देश व संविधान की सेवा करता रहेगा।
— Mayawati (@Mayawati) August 2, 2019
(With inputs from PTI)