Ramnath Goenka Awards: Scroll, PARI win in the Environment, Science and Technology category

Climate change may have been the subject of much debate, but the winners of the Ramnath Goenka Awards demonstrated how it is lived in rural India. They showed the extent of the impact through people’s stories.

Team PARI (People’s Archive of Rural India) is the winner in the Environment, Science and Technology category in print, while Team Scroll is the winner in the broadcast media. The PARI team, led by the experienced journalist P Sainath, consists of 14 reporters – Shalini Singh, Sanket Jain, Ritayan Mukherjee, Vishaka George, Kavitha Muralidharan, Medha Kale, Parth MN, Urvashi Sarkar, Namita Waikar, Chitrangada Choudhury, Aniket Aga, Jaideep Hardikar M Palani Kumar and Subuhi Jiwani. Team Scroll included Nooshin Mowla, Sujit Lad, Omkar Phatak, Swati Ali, Dewang Trivedi, Shibika Suresh and Sannuta Raghu.

PARI journalists have put together a comprehensive report on climate change in more than 20 stories that covers India in length and breadth. These stories mapped climate change through the lived experiences of farmers, workers, fishermen, forest dwellers, seaweed harvests, nomadic shepherds and honey tappers. They covered forests, seas, river basins, coral islands, deserts, arid and semi-arid zones, rural and urban areas. The reporters made the crisis understandable for the reader. “Reaching out to people was a challenge – be it the nomadic shepherds 14,000 feet above sea level in Ladakh or diving with the algae harvest women in Tamil Nadu. Another challenge for the reporters was to interpret the abstract language of the climate reports into words that the general public could understand, ”said Singh.

Five of their stories are used to teach students about climate change in Jharkhand and Odisha. Adivasi children also retold these stories in their own language with their own perspective.

On his show Eco India, Scroll told the story of women farmers in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra who gradually took possession of the land and overcame the devastation of the drought. They did not have land ownership rights, which limited their access to resources such as finance, markets, water and government services. But they conserved the seeds and learned to grow various nutrient-rich plants organically. Educated by Swayam Shikshan Prayog (a non-profit organization), these farmer women were able to make informed decisions about which crops to grow, consume, and how much to sell.

The story told how the women-led model of climate resilient agriculture helped turn the tide on their marginalization. More than 58,000 farmers now practice sustainable agriculture, which has helped them to ensure food security, health and a basic income. In Maharashtra, 70 percent of women workers are employed in agriculture, yet women are perceived as workers and rarely as decision-makers.

“Getting women to open up about their lives in front of the camera was one of the biggest challenges we faced. It was difficult for them to talk about their problems and successes without fear of being judged by their community, especially the men, ”said Sannuta Raghu of Team Scroll.