P. Sainath, Rural Affairs editor of The Hindu, was given the Bharat Asmita national award, instituted by the Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT) group of institutions, here on Wednesday on the MIT campus.
He received the award in the Jana Jagran Shreshtha category for using the mass media for public awakening.
In the award citation, the selection committee said: “You... have an insatiable quest to find the truth behind every story... In all humility, you call yourself a ‘rural reporter’, but a Nobel laureate like Amartya Sen calls you ’one of the world’s greatest experts on famine and hunger.’ Mr. Sainath quoted Saint Dnyaneshwar while accepting the award. He said, “I believe Saint Dnyaneshwar had said, ‘With words, I will give form to the formless’.”
Mr. Sainath also invoked a “presently unknown” poet and a farmer from the Vidarbha region who had committed suicide.
His daughter later found out that he also used to write poems. Mr. Sainath said that efforts were being made to get his poems published in Marathi and English.”
Mr. Sainath shared the award with film and theatre director Jabbar Patel for using cinema as a medium for public awakening.
Founder of Infosys Technologies N.R. Narayana Murthy and his wife Sudha Murthy, chairperson of the Infosys Foundation, were given the Bharat Asmita Lifetime Achievement through Corporate Social Responsibility award.
The selection committee in the citation called “the founding of Infosys Technologies... perhaps the most significant event in the history of modern India.”
While Mr. Murthy was not present to receive the award, Ms. Murthy received it on his behalf. Referring to her work as chairperson of the Infosys Foundation, Ms. Murthy said: “Like Sainath said, you have to work with the poorest of the poor in the rural areas to know your country.” She donated the award money back to the MIT to institute a Murthy medal of excellence for a student excelling in computer science.
The other awardees are Professor Ajit Rangnekar, the dean of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad (Bharat Asmita Acharya Shreshtha), parliamentarian Deepender Singh Hooda (Bharat Asmita Jana Pratinidhi Shreshtha) and professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (Bharat Asmita Vigyaan Tantragyaan Shreshtha).