At a function held at Gandhi Smriti, New Delhi held on 7 December, Charkha Development Communication Network celebrated its Founder’s Day. This marks the birthday of Sanjoy Ghose who founded Charkha based on the belief that for development to be responsive to people’s needs particularly those on the margins of society, it is vital that their perspectives reach the policy makers through the media.
On the occasion, the names of the awardees of the Sanjoy Ghose Ladakh Women Writers Award and the first Sanjoy Ghose Ladakh Special Writer’s Award 2010-11 were announced. The Chief Guest, Mr H.K Dua, eminent journalist and member, Rajya Sabha who gave away the Awards spoke about significance of a communication mechanism which would draw out the thoughts of those who live in deprivation and despair. He lauded Mahatma Gandhi’s role as a communicator par excellence who used innovative strategies like the Salt Satyagraha to mobilize and give voice to the national sentiment during the Independence movement. Though the historical context may have changed , it is equally vital today to listen to and act upon the requirements of those who remain marginalized. This is the need that Sanjoy responded to and set up Charkha and his work has been admirably carried forward by his family and close supporters.
The Awards have been selected by a Jury comprising reputed journalists and academics; Dr Kavtia Suri, senior journalist and faculty member, Jammu University; Ms. Pamela Philipose Editor Women’s Feature Service; Mr. Pushp Saraf, veteran journalist J&K; Ms. Ravina Aggarwal, Founder Trustee, The Ladakh The Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation (LAMO) . Ms. Usha Rai, eminent development journalist was the Convener of the Jury and announced the Awards at the function.
The three awardees for the Women Writers Award are Kunzes Dolma, Stanzin Angmo, Stanzin Kunzang Angmo, all budding writers from the region. The Special Writers Award for persons with disability was awarded to Mohd Iqbal who himself is disabled and leads an advocacy network in Ladakh called People’s Action Group for Inclusion and Rights (PAGIR). The network focuses on opening up opportunities for disabled persons in various fields to enable them to become self-reliant and contribute fully to society.
The awardees will be writing articles on their chosen themes centering around environment, education, or disability.
Expressing themselves at the function, the awardees acknowledged the reach and strength of the platform given by Charkha. This would allow them to develop their writing skills on issues giving the region’s perspective. According to them, the perception of Ladakh from the outside is sometimes misleading and does not accurately reflect the needs on the ground. Through their writings and connection with Charkha, these perspectives will reach the national mainstream which is important for development of the region. Mohd Iqbal said that particularly for a person who lacks good education, is disabled and living in a remote region, this afforded immense opportunity to take his voice and those he represented to the highest quarters.
The Media Awards have been by Unniti Foundation which promotes capacity building initiatives among women and children in India and Nepal for self-reliance. Over the last few years, Unniti Foundation has supported Charkha’s initiatives to draw out writings on development issues from J&K, which has found a small niche in the media. The focus on Ladakh in the past two years is to enable issues of this distant region to find space in the media and thus connect it closer the mainstream in the country.