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Shantha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award

Shantha Teacher IIF instituted an annual award for Journalists in the year 2015. The award has been instituted in the memory of late G Shantha, an English teacher hailing from Thalavadi in Kerala’s Alappuzha district. Born to scholar parents in 1942, she first taught English in colleges (Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College, Trichy, Tamil Nadu and Devasom Board College, Thalayolaparambu, Kerala) before moving to Mahatma High School for Girls, Chennithala, Kerala. She passed away at the age of 65 in 2007, following a heart attack. In addition to her contributions as a teacher, she worked selflessly to promote the English language among rural children. She also wrote short stories and poetry. Many of her students are now leading political and literary figures in India. IIF wishes to salute the spirit of Shantha teacher in promoting good literature, and the annual award to a journalist is a small gesture in that direction.
 
Shantha Teacher M Nanjundaswamy, Vijay Karnataka , 2019: M Nanjundaswamy (27), a stringer with the Mysuru Bureau of popular Kannada daily Vijay Karnataka, has been selected for the 4 th G Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award 2019. The award is instituted by Inspired Indian Foundation (IIF), a band of unassuming go-getters who find still greater fulfilment in celebrating the unsung heroes in our midst.
The award will be presented on October 19, 2019 in Bengaluru, during the 4 th Guru Kalam Memorial Lecture being organised by IIF in association with Abdul Kalam International Foundation (AKIF), Rameswaram. The award carries a hand-crafted memento, a certificate of appreciation and a Rs 21,000 cash component. This year onwards, IIF will support the awardee in undertaking special assignments that would further the cause of unsung heroes. The awardee will also be a special invitee to various initiatives of the Foundation for the next year. Rekha Satheesh, a Senior Chief Sub-Editor with The New Indian Express, Kochi, was the first recipient of the award in 2016, while Rajeev Kumar Mishra, a Chief Sub-Editor with the Bengaluru edition of Rajasthan Patrika, won the honour in 2017. The award went to Jugal Purohit, a Senior Broadcast Journalist with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) India, in 2018. (Awardees so far: https://bit.ly/2kvMOHl)
This year, the jury included top aerospace and defence scientists, besides writers and teachers, in addition to the trustees of IIF. Nanjundaswamy was chosen from a list of four shortlisted journalists from across India who have been writing on a whole host of issues.
The award has been instituted in the memory of G Shantha, an English teacher hailing from Thalavadi in Kerala’s Alappuzha district. Born in 1942, she dedicated her career to instilling in her young wards an unshakeable belief to chase their dreams wherever she taught, including at Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College, Trichy, Tamil Nadu, and Devasvom Board College, Thalayolaparambu, Kerala, and Mahatma High School for Girls, Chennithala, Kerala. She passed away in 2007 at the age of 65. In addition to her services as a teacher, she worked selflessly to promote the English language among rural kids. She also found time to write short stories and poetry, without ever craving for the limelight.

Humble beginnings
Nanjundaswamy was left with a deformed left hand owing to the misfortune of delayed childbirth. However, this did not deter him from pursuing his dream to become a journalist. Born to farmer couple Madashetty and Bhagyamma in Belathur, a remote village in Chamarajanagar near the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border, Nanjundaswamy has been working as a stringer with Vijay Karnataka for the last two and a half years. Having completed his primary and pre-university education from the Mahadeshwara Math institutes in Male Mahadeshwara Hills in Chamarajanagar, Nanjundaswamy and his family shifted to Mysuru in order to ensure he had access to quality education. While his father took up masonry work in Mysuru, his mother used to work as a house help to make ends meet. His elder brother Umesh works as a crop surveyor.
After the family moved lock, stock and barrel to Mysuru, Nanjundaswamy enrolled at Maharajas College to pursue his BA in Journalism. Stirred by the decisive role the media plays, Nanjundaswamy enrolled at the University of Mysore for his Masters in Communication and Journalism. After completing his masters, he joined Vijay Karnataka.
Nanjundaswamy has been reporting on civic issues, art and culture, science and technology, besides shining a light on the achievements of people with special needs.

A vigilant journalist
Editors at Vijay Karnataka laud Nanjundaswamy as a hardworking journalist with an unwavering focus on the larger interests of society and an unflinching commitment to the core journalistic values.
“We are aware of his humble background. Being a quick learner, he has filed many good stories in a short period since joining us. He is always around to pick up any assignments,” says one of his Editors.
His series of reports on the crisis caused due to the dumping of garbage at Old Kesare area, on the outskirts of Mysuru, was well-received.
“The series made an impact, forcing the government officials to look at alternatives to address the issue. His enthusiasm to get new stories and learn new things makes him a different boy from others,” says another Editor.
They say Nanjundaswamy never sought any concessions on account of his physical limitations and is always ready to pick up assignments in far-flung areas, often proceeding on foot to remote locations without a second thought.

Clear winner Dr Kota Harinarayana, top aerospace scientist and Mentor of IIF, says Nanjundaswamy’s grit and determination despite the many adversities in his life is worth emulating.
“I can relate to his struggle after studying his background and the career growth of this boy. This year, we wanted to look at promising, young journalists whose choice could inspire generations of budding writers. Glad we homed in on the right choice in Nanjundaswamy finally,” says Dr Kota.
IIF began the process of shortlisting the nominees in November last year and, once the final list of candidates was drawn up, a confidential report from their respective Editors was sought, to rate them according to various performance parameters.
“Journalism is a very demanding profession and rarely do we find success stories of those with special needs from the news room. This recognition to Nanjundaswamy, a stringer with Vijay Karnataka, should encourage many others. We were keen that with every award we would want to open doors that were never looked at,” says Sindhu A, Founder Trustee of IIF.

Rural pulse
Reacting to his selection for the award, Nanjundaswamy said that reporting about the success stories of people belonging to economically weaker sections and the differently- abled gave him immense satisfaction.
“I write about such individuals as I wish to encourage them to scale greater heights. This honour has come very early in my career and probably is a reminder to me about the responsibilities I have as a journalist,” says Nanjundaswamy.
The young journalist has set out the goal of doing more stories from rural areas and villages. “They are neglected and mired in problems and I wish to write about their issues often. I know their pulse as I am one among them,” he adds.
Nanjundaswamy’s interests range from numismatics to philately and theatre and he has featured in stage performances with the Nirantara troupe. His musical inclinations have seen him join Carnatic classes as well.
Video: https://bit.ly/2lzCfmS
(Nanjundaswamy can be reached at: mnanjundaswamy1@gmail.com | Twitter: @mnanjundaswamy1.)
 
Shantha Teacher Jugal Purohit, BBC India, 2018: Jugal Purohit (34), a Senior Broadcast Journalist with British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) India, has been selected for the 3rd G Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award 2018. The award has been instituted by Inspired Indian Foundation (IIF), a writers’ movement spearheading silent missions for unsung heroes.
The award will be presented on October 30, 2018 in Bengaluru, during the 3rd Guru Kalam Memorial Lecture being organised by IIF in association with Abdul Kalam International Foundation (AKIF), Rameswaram.
The award carries a specially crafted crystal memento, a certificate of appreciation and Rs 10,000 in cash. The awardee will be onboard IIF’s national missions as a special invitee for the next one year.
Rekha Satheesh, a Senior Chief Sub-Editor with The New Indian Express, Kochi, was the first recipient of the award in 2016, while Rajeev Kumar Mishra, a Chief Sub-Editor with the Bengaluru edition of Rajasthan Patrika, won the honour in 2017.
The award has been instituted in the memory of late G Shantha, an English teacher hailing from Thalavadi in Kerala’s Alappuzha district. Born in 1942, she first taught English in colleges (Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College, Trichy, Tamil Nadu and Devasom Board College, Thalayolaparambu, Kerala) before moving to Mahatma High School for Girls, Chennithala, Kerala. She passed away at the age of 65 in 2007, following a heart attack. In addition to her contributions as a teacher, she worked selflessly to promote the English language among rural children. She also wrote short stories and poetry.

Deserving candidate: Dr Kota Harinarayana
This year, the jury selected Jugal Purohit from a list of five journalists across India shortlisted from various streams. Trustees, Mentors of IIF, a representative of AKIF and a relative of late G Santha teacher constituted this year’s jury.
“Interesting selection process, as we kept a tab on the professional activities of all nominees in a year. Even after the awardee is chosen finally, we ensure that he/she is not intimated until we get the final feedback from the Editor(s) the journalist has worked with. Delighted that we have a truly deserving candidate this year as well in Jugal Purohit,” says Dr Kota Harinarayana, top aerospace scientist and Mentor of IIF.
IIF began the process of shortlisting the nominees in January this year. Once the final list of candidates was drawn up, a confidential report from their Editors was sought to measure some of their performance parameters.
“Jugal’s reporting over the years has been in-depth in nature. We found him absolutely passionate in his approach, with a great eye for detail while diving into the depths of reporting,” says Sindhu A, National Coordinator, IIF.

Objective, diligent, meticulous
Jugal started his career with Mid-Day in 2005 and later worked in Yuva, Times Now and India Today, before joining BBC India in January 2018. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media (Journalism) from Mumbai University and an MA in Defence & Strategic Studies from the University of Pune.
Winner of Red Ink Awards, Jugal has made a mark for himself over the years, covering topics ranging from military affairs to atomic energy to insurgency and politics, to mention a few. He volunteered to cover cyclones Vardah (2016), Hudhud (2014), Phailin (2013); floods of Uttarakhand in 2013, Jammu and Kashmir in 2014, Gujarat in 2015 and the Nepal earthquake in 2015.
Despite being detected by cancer last year, Jugal stuck to his guns and inner strength to overcome that difficult phase in his life.
He stands out as a hardworking, diligent journalist, who always provided better information and greater insight in his stories than others covering the same topics.
“Jugal is as a stickler for facts and objectivity. He is the first to put up his hand to take up tough assignments. He tells his story in a manner that people can easily relate to. Unlike many others he never advertised his situation. Never looked for sympathy. He took it on the chin, faced it head-on, kept the faith and came out better,” says an editor with India Today.
His peers say Jugal has always shown great leadership skills whenever needed and has always risen to the occasion.
“Overall, he is a very driven, hardworking journalist who holds the journalistic values of honesty, impartiality and quality dear,” says an Editor with BBC India.
Jugal’s father, late Rajnikant Purohit, was an advocate dealing with income tax cases in Mumbai, while his mother Alka Purohit, retired from Reserve Bank of India. He is married to Sapna Nair Purohit, who is a journalist.
Reacting to the news of winning the award, Jugal said he was ‘humbled by this recognition’.
“There still are many journalists who strive hard to ensure their readers/viewers benefit from reporting which is objective and in-depth. Few, however, get the recognition they deserve. I am confident that this IIF endeavour will go a long way in encouraging many more,” said Jugal.
He said he will continue being a storyteller but will be one who is “more innovative, creative and effective”.
(Jugal Purohit can be reached at: purohit.jugal@gmail.com | Twitter: @jugalrp.)
 
Shantha Teacher Rajeev Kumar Mishra, Rajasthan Patrika, 2017: Rajeev Kumar Mishra (45), a Chief Sub-Editor with the Bengaluru edition of Rajasthan Patrika, has been selected for the 2nd G Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award 2017. The award has been instituted by Inspired Indian Foundation (IIF), a writers’ movement spearheading silent missions for unsung heroes.
The award will be presented on October 11 in Bengaluru, during the 2nd Guru Kalam Memorial Lecture being organised by IIF in association with Abdul Kalam International Foundation (AKIF), Rameswaram.
The award carries a specially-crafted crystal memento, a certificate of appreciation and Rs 10,000 in cash. The awardee will be onboard IIF’s national missions as a special invitee for the next one year.
Rekha Satheesh, a Senior Chief Sub-Editor with The New Indian Express, Kochi, was the first recipient of the G. Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award last year.

Unique selection process
This year, the jury selected Rajeev Mishra from a list of six journalists across India shortlisted from various streams. Seven members of IIF, a representative of AKIF and a relative of late G Santha teacher constituted this year’s jury.
"This year too we had a tough task in picking one from the shortlisted six journalists. Finally, it was Rajeev Mishra's consistent commitment to the reader as a writer that helped us in choosing him for this prestigious award. We found his writing well-researched, sans any sensationalism," says Dr Kota Harinarayana, Mentor of IIF.
IIF began the process of shortlisting the nominees in January this year. Once the final list of candidates was drawn up, a confidential report from their Editors was sought to measure some of their performance parameters.
“Our endeavor is to recognize electronic, print and wire media journalists, from both reporting and desk, who make invaluable contributions to their profession. We seek the opinion of readers/viewers as well, while short-listing the awardees. Next year, the award will be given to a television journalist,” says Sindhu A, National Coordinator, IIF.

Consistent & committed writer
Rajeev has been covering all beats — ranging from politics, crime, sports, business, science and technology, to space and defence — often doubling up as a deskperson-cum-reporter. His specials on India’s space programmes ensured that the non-English-reading segments benefitted immensely, especially in the non-metro cities.
Hailing from Siwan district in Bihar, Rajeev has been a journalist for the last 13 years. Born to farmer-parents, he was a casual announcer with All India Radio in Jamshedpur before starting his career with Dainik Uditwani in 2004.
Later, he moved on to Lokmat Samachar before joining Rajasthan Patrika in 2008. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University, Kota, Rajasthan. He is married to Nisha Mishra and blessed with a daughter and son.
Reacting to the news of his winning the award, Rajeev says that his responsibility as a journalist has increased with the honour. “It’s a matter of pride for me. I dedicate this award to my newspaper and all its readers. I am delighted that my selection was done by highly revered jury members,” says Rajeev.
(Rajeev Kumar Mishra may be reached at: rajeevnmishra@gmail.com | Twitter: @rajeevmishra25.)
 
Shantha Teacher Mrs Rekha Satheesh, The New Indian Express, 2016: Inspired Indian Foundation, Bengaluru is pleased to announce the institution of the G. Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award. The inaugural award will be given to Mrs Rekha Satheesh, a Senior Chief Sub-Editor with The New Indian Express, Kochi, Kerala. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 10,001, a hand-crafted mural plaque and certificate of appreciation. The award will be given away during an event to be held in Bengaluru in May 2016. A team of journalists, writers and scientists constituted the selection panel. According to Sindhu A, National Coordinator for Inspired Indian Foundation, the award was instituted to recognise unsung heroes in Journalism, to begin with.
“Journalists write about heroes, they make heroes of ordinary people and their deeds, but their efforts are recognised on a few platforms, until and unless they are acclaimed individuals in the field. We understand that those working on the Desk are the real unsung heroes in Journalsim,” says Sindhu. She added that the Foundation has undertaken a unique selection process involving editors, reporters and copy editors of various publications. 
“We plan to increase the award category by next year, expanding on various areas of Journalism,” said Sindhu. The G. Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award will be announced every year on February 17. 
About award winner Rekha Satheesh: A journalist since 1997, Rekha is currently a Senior Chief Sub-Editor with The New Indian Express, Kochi. She has earlier worked with The Times of India, Kochi, as well. Her present job includes editing and handling the Desk. Her flawless editing, reputation with colleagues and respect from her superiors, apart from being a humble human being were considered by the panel. But her knowledge, commitment and ability to turn stories into interesting pieces of news made the choice easier. She has earlier handled State, Nation and Page-1 Desks, in addition to working with the Features section. (Email: reksatkar@gmail.com )