NEW DELHI: The Times of India journalist Priyanka Kakodkar was on Tuesday presented with the Prem Bhatia award for excellence in environmental and development reporting.
Kakodkar, editor (special projects), has won this prestigious award for her series of reports on agrarian crisis in Maharashtra. In a four-part series, she highlighted how farmer suicides in Maharashtra had shot up by over 40% between August 2014 and February 2015 after freak rains and hailstorms claimed two successive crops.
Her in-depth reports showed how locals in the arid region of Marathwada had been forced to dig up dry river beds for water and how old people were compelled to work as farm hands with migration in the drought-hit region up by 30%. The citation read by journalist-commentator Rami Chhabra said Kakodkar had highlighted the "man-made dimension of crisis", "wrong policy choices" and the exclusion of small farmers from direct cash transfers. Chhabra also emphasized that Kakodkar's work stood out at a time when farm crisis has become a low priority area for sections of media.
The Prem Bhatia Awards, instituted in the memory of one of the most eminent journalists of his era, are given to two "exceptional journalists" every year for their reporting on politics, environment and development issues.
The jury which selected Kakodkar for the award included environmental activist Vandana Shiva and veteran journalist P Sainath. The Centre for Policy Research president and chief executive Pratap Bhanu Mehta delivered the Prem Bhatia Memorial Annual Lecture on 'India's Aborted Transitions' at the awards function here at India International Centre. The event was presided over by sociologist Dipankar Gupta.