Sajila Saseendran with Prof. P.J. Kurien, Venu Rajamony and Dr Azad Moopen. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Two Gulf News journalists received the first P.V. Vivekanand Memorial Award at the inaugural edition of Aster Media Awards in New Delhi last week.

Anand Raj O.K, Features Editor with Friday magazine, a sister publication of Gulf News, and Sajila Saseendran, senior reporter with Gulf News, were awarded in the international category of the award.

Dr Azad Moopen, chairman and managing director, Aster DM Healthcare and founder and managing trustee of Aster DM Foundation, along with Prof P. J. Kurien, deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Indian Parliament, felicitated the joint winners of the international category of the Aster Media Awards 2016.

Anand Raj’s story brought to the fore the issues of a neglected government school which resulted in many citizens lending support.

Sajila Saseendran won the award for an article that prompted action by the Indian government to simplify recruitment of Indian workers in the Middle East.

The winners in all three categories of the award received citations and shared a total cash award of Dh137,000, the group said in a press release.

Sarika Malhotra, from Business Today, and Manoj Sharma, from Hindustan Times, were the joint winners in the national category. The award in the Kerala state category was given to Sinoj Thomas from Manorama TV.

Quality and impact

Venu Rajamony, press secretary to the President of India and chairman of the jury for Aster Media Awards, said: “All their [winning] stories demonstrated what the whole jury was looking for — quality and impact, And that’s what makes them the winners.”

Dr Moopen said, “I would like to congratulate all the participants of the Aster Media Awards for their objective, independent, insightful and balanced reporting on social issues. A lot of their work is helping create awareness about critical issues and influencing positive change. We hope that the awards will encourage news media organisations to keep social development as a critical component of the editorial narrative and ensure inclusiveness.’’

J.P. Nadda, India’s Minister for Health and Family Welfare, who felicitated the award winners earlier at the health ministry, said in a video screened at the Awards function: “Aster Media Awards is a great step to ensure that the fourth pillar of our civil society remains committed to reporting on various areas of social impact. Journalism has an ability to impact public, policy and the politics of a country. So, I congratulate the recipients of the Aster Media Awards for their invaluable contribution. I hope more journalists will take part in this mission in upcoming years and will play a role in bringing social change through their reporting.”

The Aster Media Awards is conceptualised by Aster DM Foundation in recognition of the impact of mainstream media in shaping public awareness, acknowledgement and action in the social sector.

The first edition of awards was adjudicated by an independent jury comprising eminent journalists from India and the UAE.