Journalist Snigdha Poonam has received the 2017 Journalist of Change Award for her June 2016 HuffPost India story on the spate of suicides by students training for the IIT entrance examinations in Kota, Rajasthan.
Poonam, who is currently a National Affairs Writer at Hindustan Times in New Delhi, worked on the story last year as an independent journalist. She described the assignment as her "most heartbreaking reporting trip".
"I'm very happy for the recognition this story has received and I hope this helps shine greater light into the issues surrounding Kota, the IIT-prep industry and student suicides," she said.
She received the award from Krishna Prasad, former editor-in-chief of Outlook magazine and a member of the Press Council India. The award was adjudicated by a jury comprising Prasad and Rediff.com editor Nikhil Lakshman, apart from Bournemouth University academics Dr Samantha Leahy-Harland, Genna West, Dr Einar Thorsen and Dr C Sreedharan.
The award is offered by UK's Bournemouth University as part of its Connect India initiative.
"This is our way of encouraging journalism that makes a real difference, journalism that is not scared. Snigdha's reportage on the Kota suicides was impressive not only for the insights it provided, but also for the sensitive treatment of a typically stigmatised subject. At Bournemouth University, we have a vibrant community of scholars and practitioners, and I hope she will enjoy interacting with them and sharing her expertise," Dr Sreedharan, who heads up the Connect India initiative, said.
The finalists included Nikita Saxena and Priyanka Dubey, both of Caravan magazine, Rhythma Kaul of Hindustan Times, Shafaq Shah of Rising Kashmir, and Pallavi Rebbapragada of First Post.
The winner gets to spend up to a fortnight at Bournemouth University, participating in programmes and interacting with scholars and practitioners.
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