Citing ethics, journalist P Sainath declines AP govt’s award

Hyderabad: Critically acclaimed journalist and founder of People’s Rural Archive of India (PAIR) P. Sainath today declined the Andhra Pradesh’s YSR Lifetime Achievement award today. Sainath, explaining his reasons, said that journalists should not accept awards from governments they cover or critique as they are “external auditors”.

The YSR Lifetime Achievement award was announced by the Andhra Pradesh government, headed by chief minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, and awardees will get cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh as well as a memento. In a series of tweets, Sainath, who has covered rural India extensively, especially at his time with The Hindu, said that accepting the award would be akin to an external auditor of a venture accepting the company’s awards.

Sainath stated, “In this respect, journalists are different from musicians, artists, sportspersons, and some other groups. Unlike journalists, those other groups are not likely to be subsequently called upon to scrutinize the government’s functioning.”

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The senior journalist, whose portal covers a host of rural issues, said that the point of non-acceptance is less about governments and more about the “personal and professional ethical protocols of the journalist.” Sainath however said that his decision to accept the award does not seek to impose the same on other journalists, and added that others who choose to accept state awards “have a right to do so”.

The following are the other journalists whose names were in the list of the AP government for the award: ABK Prasad‌ – (Krishna), Pothuri Venkateswara Rao – posthumous (Guntur), Sheikh Khaza Hussain (Devipriya) – posthumous (Guntur), K Amarnath – posthumous West Godavari, Surendra – Cartoonist – (Kadapa),Telakapalli Ravi (Kurnool), Imam – Anantapur.

Last week, Sainath was awarded the Fukuoka Grand Prize for 2021, which is established by Japan’s Fukuoka city and the Fukuoka City International Foundation. The award is given to individuals and organisations for their work in preserving Asian culture,

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