much awaited CNN-IBN and IBN 7 Citizen Journalist (CJ) awards ceremony, held on October 16 in New Delhi, turned out to be a great exercise in inspiration and humility.
The chief guest for the evening was Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit. The tone for the awards was set by well known singer Hariharan, who rendered a soulful number to welcome the gathering. The awards night served as a platform to felicitate the efforts of ordinary people, who showed the courage to come forward and report on issues concerning them and society.
The entries for the various categories were shortlisted by a group of eminent jury members, including Kiran Bedi, Prasoon Joshi, Madhu Trehan, Arvind Kejriwal, Nandita Das, Neelam Krishnamoorthy and Rakeysh Mehra.
Before moving on to awarding the winners, the host of the evening, Rajdeep Sardesai, editor in chief, IBN Network, and Ashotosh, managing editor, IBN 7, engaged the audience in a heated debate about whether citizens have any role to play in journalism. Eminent journalists such as Kuldeep Nayyar and Nalini Singh expressed strong opinions advocating the active participation of citizens in the process of governance and journalism, saying this had the power to change things for the better.
The first award of the night went to Tulika Verma in the Fight Back category. Verma courageously portrayed the trauma and struggle of parents of children with congenital disorders. A special jury mention applauded CJ Rakesh, who took up the cause of suicides by farmers in Andhra Pradesh.
The Save Your City award went to Vimla Devi, who fought a pitched battle with the authorities of Kalyanpuri for adequate community toilet facilities in her area. In the same category, the efforts of Mumbai homemaker CJ Leena Pawar were appreciated as she fought against the strong milk adulteration lobby in her city. CJ Katie Bagli took the honour of Green CJ for protecting the biodiversity park, Rani Bagh, in Mumbai.
Most of the stories emerged from either a sense of personal loss or awareness of greater responsibility towards fellow human beings and society. The loss of his 15 year old son in a blast resulting from a faulty LPG cylinder motivated CJ Ashok Mehta to take upon himself the responsibility of creating awareness against faulty home appliances.
Mehta was awarded the Special CJ award. Similarly, Rajinder Johar, suffering from quadriplegia (paralysis of all four limbs), turned his disability into his strength and now actively supports the welfare of disabled people by offering counselling and organising interactive cultural group activities for them. The all-women TV channel, Aapan Samachar, found a special jury mention, too.
In the Be the Change category, bridge man CJ Girish Bhardwaj walked away with the laurels. Till date, Bhardwaj has built around 80 hanging bridges in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. A special jury mention favour was extended to CJ Macwan, whose campaign for protecting trees in Ahmedabad was appreciated by the jury members.
CJ Ankur Tripathy and CJ Mukul were the winners in the Best Video and Best Image categories. Actor Rahul Bose was given the Eminent CJ award for his open support against issues such as the fight against terrorism and his active involvement and support for various other social causes.
The event concluded on the promise of transforming the novel concept of citizen journalism into a bigger and organised movement to ensure that issues taken up by enthusiastic and concerned citizens are followed up and redressed in right measure till justice is delivered.