CHENNAI: Documentary Film maker, Nilita Vachani’s reportage for The Caravan Magazine on a domestic help from West Bengal who was inadvertently made part of a million-dollar insider trading case in the USA, won the inaugural Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) award for investigative journalism.
The story which appeared in the November 2015 issue of the magazine documents the travails of Manju Das-a domestic help whose identity was hijacked by her employer, Anil Kumar, a senior partner at a global consultancy firm, McKinsey & Company, for the benefit of himself and his friend, Raj Rajaratnam, the CEO of the Galleon Group, a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund based in New York.
Nilita Vachani who was not present to receive the award spoke through video conference from New York. “I thought it was a remarkable story, but did not know how remarkable it was until I met her. She had no idea of her role in insider trading. She had no idea why she was sent back to India. She, who on paper was a multi-millionaire had no idea about it whereas I had the information,” Nilita said, adding “It is in my view, a story of gross inequality and injustice on a global scale.”
Nilita’s entry was selected from 111 entries from 46 news outlets in eight languages. Senior Journalist TJS George who was part of the four member jury who decided on the award peppered insights on what went into deciding the winner.
“This is essentially a human interest story which does not break new ground. But, it does tell us something about the way the poor are used, their stoicism and cynicism and that’s interesting in itself,” he quoted a jury member as saying.