The eminent Press Club of Mumbai held its much sought-after, annual awards ceremony – ‘The Red Ink Awards’ on 7th June 2017, at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA). In its seventh year now, ‘The Red Ink Awards’ is nationally hailed as the most coveted and distinguished recognition given to Indian journalists for excellence in the dynamic field of journalism. Parsi Times was proud to be an Associate Partner of this prestigious event.
Attended by over 800 journalists from across India, The Red Inks 2017 felicitated thirty-two journalists from within the print, electronic (TV) and digital media, celebrating its theme ‘Who Else But You’ – to emphasize not just the sense of responsibility but also courage that is required by journalists to bring into the spotlight those issues that are fraught with risk or ignorance or both. Compared eloquently yet again this year by the witty Menaka Doshi, Managing Editor of Bloomberg Quint, the event started with President of Mumbai Press Club, Kumar Ketkar’s welcome note, going on to emphatically point out the need for journalists to stand together and fight against the forces trying to throttle the media’s democratic right to Freedom of Speech and Expression.
Taking over from Ketkar, on a lighter note, Convenor of the Red Ink Awards, Gurbir Singh, shared the evolutionary journey of the Red Ink Awards over the years, leaving the audiences in splits as he spoke of the teething glitches. He invited NCPA Chairman, Khushroo Suntook to speak a few words as this year, NCPA, which has been the venue for the Awards for the past five years, also graciously participated in the event, adding a delightful and enriching touch of culture.
Known for having founded India’s first and only the Orchestra – the Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI), Mr. Suntook spoke on the importance and impact of culture on a country’s progress and set the stage for the grand but short performance by the SOI Chamber Orchestra led by the renowned Resident Conductor, Evgeny Bushkov, who along with the brilliant artists, regaled and wowed the audiences, performing not just Western Classical music, but also a Hindi medley of famous Bollywood songs! Three of the young children artists from NCPA’s Special Music Training Programme, displayed their talents on the violin, cello and the flute. Following this, a chilling caligraphic video was presented, with lyrics in Hindi – dedicated to journalists by none other than the ghazal maestro himself, Gulzar – based on the theme ‘Tum Nahi To Kaun Aur Hoga’?’
Next followed the much-awaited panel discussion followed by Ketkar and Chairman of Mumbai Press Club – Rajesh Mascarenhas, and its Secretary, Dharmendra Jore, welcoming and felicitating Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis for his crucial support in the passage of the ‘State Journalist Protection Act’, which calls for 3 year imprisonment term and fine of Rs.50,000/- to all who harm a journalist on duty. Finally it was time for giving away the awards. The Mumbai Press Club received over 1,500 entries – an ever-increasing number over the years, spread across categories including Politics, Science and Innovation, Human Rights, Business, Big Picture (photography), Environment, Sports, Health and Wellness, Crime and Lifestyle and Entertainment. This year a number of Parsis were a part of the prestigious panel of curators and judges.
Addressing the gathering Fadnavis said that he felt the Fourth Estate was under no threat. “Constructive journalism has its own value and at the same time we are open to criticism,” he said, adding, “Our democracy is very strong and has survived turbulence in the past. The democratic system has the potential to evolve and correct itself.” The event concluded with a vote of thanks by Executive Member, Lata Mishra, followed by dinner catered by Joss Caterers.
- ‘The Lifetime Achievement Award’ was bestowed upon veteran journalist, Vinod Dua, known as among the country’s first psephologists, having contributed extensively and variedly to journalism in different formats and subjects. Dua spoke about the greed within the media, the risk that this vicarious sense of power brings in; unfortunate owner-driven loyalties and the need to turn the light inwards.
- ‘The Journalist Of The Year Award’ – Chief Editor of the Indian Express, Raj Kamal Jha for providing exemplary stewardship in investigative journalism. Jha has led from the front to make the Indian Express part of an international investigative team that cracked the global money laundering scam known as ‘The Panama Papers’. “This award belongs to the entire team of Indian Express. For us what is important is a good story, and sometimes when we see a good piece from a youngster, we feel that we could not have written it that way,” he said expressing hope of a bright future for Indian journalism.
- ‘Mumbai’s Star Reporter’- Govind Tupe of ‘Sakal’ Newspaper received the award instituted for the first time this year for his role of a journalist and an RTI activist that forced the establishment to bring all offices of Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State, under the umbrella of RTI (public authorities).
The Panel Discussion
A four member panel comprising moderator Vir Sanghvi, and paneslists – former CM, Prithviraj Chavan, veteran journalists Bachi Karkaria, NDTV’s Srinivasan Jain and Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, debated on the much burning topic, ‘Turning the Searchlight Inwards: Why the Credibility of News Media Today is at its Nadir’.
The poised discussions saw Bachi Karkaria highlighting the similarities between the ‘Emergency period’ and the current scenario, especially where our democratic right is concerned, while Srinivas Jain affirmed that the raid on NDTV’s Prannoy Roy is a direct assault on journalism’s freedom of speech. Prithviraj Chavan said, “If one falls in line, no criticism will be tolerated”. The panel also highlighted the cons of an unregulated digital media.
Quotes: Arshis, Suntook, Gurbeer, Rajesh, Anahita, Bachi
Khushroo Suntook, Chairman, NCPA:
“It was very well organized. What was striking was the sporting way in which politicians and journalists crossed swords without acrimony. And the fact that we could speak out in an auditorium of the size of the Jamshedji Bhabha theatre without favor or fear, is a good sign and makes one optimistic about the future. I do wish that there was an award also instituted for culture, especially as there is a paucity of journalists who are versed in reporting on culture. On a happier note, it was a joy for me to see our artists and young children, who’ve hardly learnt for 3 years, perform at this professional level – we hope they will be the future of the SOI and we thank their parents enormously for the support they give children in this endeavour.”
Gurbir Singh, Convenor Red Ink Awards:
“By far, the Red Ink Awards was the most successful this year. And it would be right to say that the Red Ink Awards have become the biggest news media awards in the country. This is mainly for two reasons – one, due to its reach, thanks to social media platforms and, two – for the very class and character that these awards hold. The Red Ink brand has come across very strong and we are sure to have an increasing number of journalist participate year after year. Also, this year we had the SOI perform for us and the performance, especially that of the three children, was so outstanding that they all received a standing ovation! Parsis are an intelligent lot and we were happy to have Red Inks reach out to them through Parsi Times.”
Kersi Randeria, Founder of Parsi Times:
“I’m delighted that Parsi Times is associated with one of the most significant media events in India. The theme is extremely relevant in today’s times and the panel discussion was enriching. It was lovely to watch the Chamber Orchestra’s brilliant performance and I’m glad that Parsi Times has taken on the onus of encouraging the growth of Western Classical music in our community, all thanks to Mr. Suntook’s support,”.
Rajesh Mascarenhas, Chairman, Red Ink Awards:
This year we received the highest number of entries, not just from Mumbai but from all over, and some from north-eastern states as well. A significant aspect of the Red Inks was that even regional media won awards in various categories. The quality of entries were much better than the previous years, thanks to the editors taking charge and sending their bulk selected entries. Overall, so far, Red Ink Awards 2017 was a ‘grand success’.
Dr. Aashish Contractor, Judge, Health & Wellness, Red Ink Awards:
It was a privilege to be a judge on the heath care section of the Red Ink Awards. The articles nominated were of high calibre and in fact opened my eyes to several health related issues in our country.