Amaravati, July 8: Within hours of Andhra Pradesh government conferring the YSR Lifetime Achievement Award on journalist Palagummi Sainath, the latter rejected it, saying scribes should not accept awards from governments they cover or criticise.
"Journalists should not accept awards from governments they cover or criticise," Sainath said on Wednesday night.
Drawing the parallel of an investor, he questioned if one wouldn't be furious if the external auditor of a venture in which someone has invested accepts awards from that company.
"The journalist is an external auditor to the government," he asserted.
According to Sainath, the point of non-acceptance is less about governments and more about the personal and professional ethical protocols of a journalist.
However, the recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2007 clarified that he is not imposing his thought process on other journalists, saying that "others who choose to accept state awards have the right to do so".
"But it is on this belief -- that independent journalists should not accept awards from governments they could be covering or criticising tomorrow -- that I must respectfully decline the YSR Lifetime Achievement Award from the Andhra Pradesh government," Sainath added.
Comparing professionals from other fields such as music, art and sports to journalists, Sainath said that "the other groups are not likely to be subsequently called upon to scrutinise the government's functioning".
On the eve of the birth anniversary of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the state government on Wednesday announced the YSR Lifetime Achievement Awards and YSR Achievement Awards for individuals and institutions for excellence in diverse realms.
As many 63 awards were announced, mainly recognising the works which reflected the ideals of Rajasekhara Reddy, including amplifying Telugu culture and social service.
Aspects of rural background and down to earth nature prominently featured in selecting the winners.
The scribes who have been named for the YSR Lifetime Achievement Award, which carries a purse of Rs 10 lakh and a memento, include Sainath, A.B.K. Prasad, Surendra, Telakapalli Ravi and Imam.
The winning journalists under the posthumous category include Pothuri Venkateswara Rao, Sheikh Khaza Hussain (Devipriya) and K. Amarnath.
A bunch of farmers, artistes, authors, journalists and Covid warriors have also been named for different awards.