The Gandhi Memorial Museum and Centre for Experiencing Socio-Cultural Interaction (CESCI) organised the Maja Koene Award Function 2013 here on Wednesday.

The Maja Koene Social Journalist Award was given to Himanshu Shekhar Mishra of NDTV-New Delhi and Ruby Sarkar, a freelance journalist from Bhopal. Mr. Mishra was felicitated for his coverage of the Jan Satyagraha non-violent march taken out by 50,000 people from Gwalior to New Delhi in October, 2012.

“While we highlight the problems and deprivation of the poor, their perseverance and determination to fight for their cause often doesn’t get the respect it deserves,” Mr. Mishra said.

Ms. Sarkar wrote about marginalised communities and highlighted the issues of the landless poor. “Their everyday struggle for basic necessities such as water and the way they are exploited and deprived need to be covered with sensitivity,” she said.

Naresh Chander Lal, a filmmaker from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, who was conferred the Maja Koene Social Activist Award, said that through his films he had sought to spread the message of ahimsa. “I believe Gandhiji is alive in all of us and by practising the concept of non-violence, we are keeping him and his ideals alive.”

Mr. Lal emphasised the potential and reach of the film medium.

The Kadam Cultural Centre in Jabalpur won the Social Activist Award for work on environmental issues and poverty.

Given to activists who practise non-violent methods of resistance while fighting for a cause, the Maja Koene Peace Award went to Orquidea Perez and Maria Liga, women who had shown exemplary leadership while working for the development of their communities in Columbia.

Accepting the award on their behalf, Natalia Rodriguez, a social worker from an organisation which worked with them, said the women had been fighting for rights over land in a place ravaged by violence, and in the absence of a government. “These women are fighting for their rights while battling political and economic instabilities, showing exemplary determination and courage to better their community,” she said.

Reva Joshee from the Mahatma Gandhi Canadian foundation for World Peace, Margrit Hugentobler, president of CESCI-Switzerland. and P.V. Rajagopal, secretary of CESCI, Madurai, were present.

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