P. Sainath’s People’s Archive of India wins the Prem Bhatia Award 2020

Published : August 01, 2020 06:48 IST

P. Sainath at the inauguration of the two-day media festival Media Manthan 2020 at St. Aloysius College in Mangaluru on February 14. Photo: H.S. MANJUNATH

The PARI team. Photo: PARI


The People’s Archive of India (PARI) along with the journalist Dipankar Ghosh have won the prestigious Prem Bhatia Award 2020 for outstanding journalism. Ghosh and the PARI team were recognised for their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and related issues. A press statement from the Prem Bhatia Memorial Trust says the PARI team received the award for “their extensive field reports, including climate change effects and the impact of the pandemic on rural India”.

Breaking from tradition—the award is usually given to an individual—the Prem Bhatia Trust said it acknowledged “PARI collectively for its army of field reporters, volunteers and its dedicated team”. PARI won the award for its work on a series of climate change stories out of rural India and for their coverage of the pandemic.

A statement by PARI on their website reads: “PARI’s unparalleled coverage of the pandemic and the lockdown includes (so far) more than 100 stories and vital documents from over 30 regions across 20 States and Union territories. They’re about migrant labourers, of course, but also recognise and cover the impact of the lockdown on the many delicately interwoven economies of rural India—of farmers, boatmen, labourers urban and rural, sugarcane-cutters, weavers, toy-makers, other artisans and craftspeople, sanitation workers, displaced labourers, cancer patients from rural areas waiting on the footpaths outside Mumbai’s major hospitals, nomadic pastoralists, daily wagers, folk artists, fisherfolk, barbers, brick kiln workers, harmonium repairers, and Dalits and Adivasis in various occupations....”

Founded in 2014 by the award-winning journalist P. Sainath, PARI is a website that is an archive of documentation on rural India through reportage. P. Sainath says: “PARI is both a living journal and an archive. It will generate and host reporting on the countryside that is current and contemporary, while also creating a database of already published stories, reports, videos and audios from as many sources as we can.” An interesting aspect of PARI is that anyone who is willing to follow the mandate of the project, which is writing about “everyday lives of people”, and meets the standards of the project can contribute to the website. All the material is accessible and free to visitors.

The statement from the Prem Bhatia Memorial Trust says: “The Prem Bhatia awards were instituted in 1995 in memory of eminent journalist Prem Bhatia (1911-1995), to propagate the values that he stood for: objective reporting, fearless pursuit of the truth and a commitment to improving the standards of journalism in India.”