Saju Bhaskar of Mathrubhumi wins sixth G Santha Teacher memorial journalism award

Bhaskar's coverage of the crisis faced by bell metal workers in Mannar prompted government intervention, leading to improved conditions for the workers.
(Photo | Special Arrangement)
(Photo | Special Arrangement)

Saju Bhaskar (54), a reporter with Mathrubhumi (Malayalam) daily covering the Mannar region in Alappuzha district of Kerala, has been honoured with the sixth G Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award 2024.

The award, established by the Inspired Indian Foundation (IIF) based in Bengaluru, recognises Bhaskar's exemplary contributions to journalism. It includes a specially-crafted stone memento by designer V Jayaprakash from Karnataka and a cash prize of Rs 25,000.

Bhaskar will receive this recognition during IIF's annual event dedicated to unsung heroes later this year.

This year's jury, comprising distinguished aerospace and defence scientsts, family members of Santha Teacher, writers, and IIF trustees, selected Bhaskar from a pool of four shortlisted Indian journalists.

Bhaskar holds a degree in Physics from MG University, Kottayam, and has served as a local correspondent with Mathrubhumi for over three decades. His impactful reporting on various socio-economic issues has made a significant difference in the lives of many.

Bhaskar's coverage of the crisis faced by bell metal workers in Mannar prompted government intervention, leading to improved conditions for the workers. His series of reports highlighting the struggles of farmers in the Upper Kuttanad area spurred big changes in the agricultural sector. Bhaskar's compelling reports, accompanied by his own photographs, also garnered national attenton during the Tsunami.

Saju's journalism inspiring: IIF Chief Mentor

According to IIF Chief Mentor and the man who designed the Light Combat Tejas aircraft Dr Kota Harinarayana, Saju’s reports and photographs demonstrated depth, a quality that greatly impressed the jury during the final selection process.

"This year, we narrowed down to four journalists from across India and each had strengths that made them the top choices. Since, Saju doubled up as a photographer as well, he had an advantage. His ability to capture the essence of human-interest stories, showcasing the lesser-known aspects of ordinary lives impressed us,” says Dr Kota.

Joseph Mathew, Special Correspondent and Bureau Chief (Alappuzha) at Mathrubhumi, praised Bhaskar's journalistic prowess, saying: "Saju Bhaskar is not just a local reporter; he is a journalist with a nose for news. His extensive coverage of various events, including natural calamities and sporting events, reflects his dedication to his profession."

Ashok Chennithala, a jury member and family member of Santha Teacher, emphasised the social impact of Bhaskar's reporting, stating, "Saju's stories have consistently influenced social change over the years. His relentless pursuit of socially relevant issues and his compelling photographs have forced authori􀆟es to take action."

About Santha Teacher

The award is dedicated to the memory of G Santha, an English teacher originally from Thalavadi in Kerala’s Alappuzha district. Born in 1942, she devoted her career to nurturing in her students an unwavering resolve to pursue their aspirations, wherever she taught, including at Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, and Devasvom Board College in Thalayolaparambu, Kerala, as well as Mahatma High School for Girls in Chennithala, Kerala. She passed away on February 17, 2007, at the age of 65. Santha worked tirelessly to promote the English language among rural children and found time to pen short stories and poetry, always remaining humble and eschewing the limelight.

Earlier Recipients

Rekha Satheesh, a Senior Chief Sub-Editor with The New Indian Express, Kochi, was the first recipient of the award in 2016, while Rajeev Kumar Mishra, a Chief Sub Editor with the Bengaluru edition of Rajasthan Patrika, won the honour in 2017. The award went to Jugal Purohit, a Senior Broadcast Journalist with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) India, in 2018 while in 2019, M Nanjundaswamy, a Mysuru-based stringer of Kannada daily Vijay Karnataka was the recipient. In 2021, Mudassir Ahmad Kuloo, an independent journalist from Kashmir, was chosen for the award.

(This is a Press Release by the Inspired Indian Foundation.)

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