Journalist refuses to accept Ramnath Goenka award from PM Narendra Modi

A journalist from The <em>Times of India</em> refused the celebrated Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award for 2016 on the grounds that it was being given away by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

FP Staff November 03, 2016 11:17:14 IST
Journalist refuses to accept Ramnath Goenka award from PM Narendra Modi

Akshaya Mukul, a journalist from The Times of India, refused to accept the celebrated Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award for 2016 on the grounds that it was being given away by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, says a report by The New Indian Express.

Journalist refuses to accept Ramnath Goenka award from PM Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi at the Ramnath Goenka award ceremony. Image courtesy: Twitter/@thecaravanindia

According to an India Samvad report, Mukul boycotted the ceremony and Krishan Chopra, the publisher and chief editor at Harper Collins India, received the award on his behalf. Mukul was conferred the prize in the category of Books (non-fiction) for his work — Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India, which gives an account of the nationalist and militant history of the Hindutva ideologue in India, and ironically the background of the Prime Minister's politics. The book has also won the Book of the Year Award, and the Atta Galatta-Bangalore Literature Festival Book Prize.

In a Caravan report, Mukul stated that it is an honour to have won the RNG award, but could not "live with the idea of Modi (and him) in the same frame, smiling at the camera even as he hands over the award." He referred to the Patiala House Court incident in February where journalists and students were attacked by alleged lawyers and BJP's OP Sharma, strongly indicating the government's frequent clampdown on the media. The Indian Express management's decision to invite "someone as polarising as" Modi left many journalists unhappy, he wrote.

Modi, on the other hand, congratulated all awardees on Wednesday. Paying tribute to former media baron Goenka, Modi said in a tweet: "There were few in the media who challenged the Emergency and this was led by Ramnathji and the Indian Express". Also noting that, "Ramnathji was always committed to his ideals."

At the ceremony, he spoke on the freedom struggle, and how newspapers became a very strong medium of expression. Further saying that technology poses a challenge to the media and news that could earlier be disseminated in 24 hours now happens in 24 seconds.

Here are some Twitter reactions on the issue:

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