NDTV's Ravish Kumar was declared the recipient for Asia's highest honour, the prestigious 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award on August 2, for his hard-hitting journalism.
The award was presented to him on Friday, September 6 in Manila, the capital of Philippines.
After winning the award Ravish Kumar delivered a speech on 'The Power of Citizen's journalism to Advanced Democracy'.
Here are the highlights from his speech, which touched subjects like fake news and the role of common citizens in these testing times.
Ravish started with India's historic 'Chandrayaan' achievement and subtly came back from the moon to Indian roads with crater-like potholes.
India has conquered the moon. In this very proud moment, I am looking at the moon and at the ground beneath my feet simultaneously. My streets have craters and potholes which outnumber the moon.
He then revealed how he first came to know about him winning the Ramon Magsaysay award, which is a hilarious piece in itself.
Two months ago, I was working on my daily broadcast in my corner office when I received a call on my cell phone. The caller ID flashed an unknown international number from the Philippines. I was certain it was a troll calling. For some reason, a lot of my troll calling traffic comes from the Philippines.
After a minute of dilemma, he finally responded.
I put my phone on loudspeaker and from the other end, was greeted by a female voice which asked "May I please speak to Mr Ravish Kumar?". I have received thousands of calls from trolls in my life but never from a woman. I quickly shut off the speaker and put the phone against my ear. In sophisticated English, the woman informed me that I won the Ramon Magasaysay Award.
Taking a leaf out of a common citizen's life, Ravish then talked about the need for better citizenry and even better governments in the future.
We are living in testing times, as journalists and as common citizens. Our citizenship itself is on trial right now and make no mistake about it, we need to fight back. We need to rethink our duties and responsibilities as citizens.
Next, he pointed out how sensationalised 'news channel debates' are against the very ethics of journalism.
There are only two types of people in this news universe narrative: the anti-nationals and us. It's the classic "us" and "them" technique. They tell us that the problem with Anti-nationals is that they ask questions, disagree, and dissent. Disagreement is the aatma [spirit, soul, or essence] of democracy and citizenship.
Talking about citizens suffering in sync with the journalism of this generation, he continued:
When citizenship is under threat or when its very meaning has been altered, then what happens to the nature of a citizen's journalism? Both are citizens: those who claim to speak as the nation, and the victims of their derision.
Claiming that his criticism of the mainstream media, and in particular of news channels, is intended for the sole purpose of his great country, Ravish talked about the impact of Prime Time and how the show's temperament has changed throughout the years.
The impact of Prime Time's "job series" was soon felt and many pending exam results were published and appointment letters issued. As late as 2018, Bihar, the state that I come from, had not published results of exams conducted in 2014. My WhatsApp number has become a public newsroom. When my secret sources within political parties and the government began to distance themselves from me, the public became my open resource.
Ravish Kumar touched other subjects like the Kashmir issue and also talked about how India's neighbouring countries all lie closer to each other in press freedom index, terming it as a 'sad coincidence'.