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Ramnath Goenka Award: Winners in biz, economic journalism shone light on human impact

Sumant Banerji of Business Today is the print media winner in the Business and Economic Journalism category while Ayushi Jindal of India Today TV is the winner in broadcast media.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
December 28, 2021 4:01:30 am
Sumant Banerji and Ayushi Jindal

Business and economic news usually focuses on macro issues, policy movements and India Inc. Seldom do we read hard-hitting stories on how they impact the blue collar worker. The Ramnath Goenka Award winners gave us a 360-degree view on car ancillary unit workers who lose their limbs, pointing to the supply chain mismanagement by auto majors, and the impact of the plastic economy on common lives.

Sumant Banerji of Business Today is the print media winner in the Business and Economic Journalism category while Ayushi Jindal of India Today TV is the winner in broadcast media.

Banerji’s two-part story deals with the lives of hundreds of workers in companies that make automotive parts in the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt, who lost their lives or limbs on the job. The first part of the story focuses on the problem — the faulty machines and why they are so, the injuries and the sheer numbers of those maimed forever. The second part looks at the major companies for whom the parts are made in the first place and what, if at all, they are doing about it.

“The biggest challenge while doing the story was the lack of official data. The Government was irreverent towards this issue; the bureaucrats and officials wanted to sweep it under the carpet. Companies also refused to divulge such data or denied keeping a track of such accidents. Therefore, getting in touch with the affected workers was a hurdle because they were migrants; they would return to their villages. When I spent time on the ground, I learnt of fresh incidents and the affected people were my first point of contact,” said Banerji.

The reporter then got in touch with a few NGOs. Safe-in-India collated a lot of data on the issue. Following the story, the Haryana and Central Governments have formed working groups to help the injured workers.

Jindal’s story explored the entire economics of single-use plastic — from the raw material to the end product — and how a ban would impact the industry and the environment. The reportage documented the fear of people involved in the economy of plastic, the jobs that were lost and why the popular material’s use was criticised.

The story also explored the consumers’ and manufacturers’ take on a single-use plastic ban and what it would mean in their lives. For some, it was a loss of livelihood and for others, it turned out to be just a matter of life choices.

Said Jindal, “We could trace where plastic is manufactured, sold and used but where does it end? We followed a random truck carrying plastic waste and ended up in a huge dump yard located on the outskirts of the national capital. It was tough to put out the stories of those who were engaged and invested in the plastic economy and the kind of shockwaves a sudden ban would have made them suffer. At the time of filming the show, plastic seemed the demon as most people were not willing to own up to being in the business of selling or recycling it.”

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