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Vivekananda Nemana, Winner, Human Rights and Environment category

Story: “The Great Escape” 

To report “The Great Escape,” I traveled around coastal Orissa for nearly a month, trying to understand the scale of both Cyclone Phailin’s destruction and the massive evacuation that affected so many people’s lives. Often, I simply showed up at a town, relying on the kindness of strangers to guide me and share their stories. It rained continuously in Ganjam district – the worst affected part of Orissa – in the weeks after the cyclone; trees stripped of leaves and houses stripped of roofs were keeled over as far as one could see, and perpetually gray skies cast certain Kodachrome overtones. There was no electricity because the cyclone destroyed the power grid, so at night the rain poured in utter darkness.

Amid this destruction people were quick to help each other – and me, even though I was doing nothing to assist in the critical relief efforts. Some people I knew I would meet again. Like Swarupa auntie, a distant relative of mine who gave me a comfortable place to sleep and work, and helped translate so many interviews in Oriya.

Yahoo Originals wins 3 RedInk Awards for Journalism

Three features published by Grist Media on Yahoo Originals won the Press Club Mumbai’s National RedInk Awards for Excellence in Journalism 2014. The ceremony was held at the National Centre for the Performing Arts’ Jamshed Bhabha Theatre in Mumbai on June 7.

The awards saw over 800 entries from 75 online and print publications. Thirty winners and runners-up were awarded in 15 categories of print and television awards for stories published in 2013. Each category carries an award of Rs 100,000, divided between the winner and the runner-up.

The RedInk Awards expanded this year to include new categories such as ‘Human Rights and Environment’, in which Yahoo Originals won two awards. Vivekananda Nemana’s feature on the massive evacuation conducted in Odisha during Cyclone Phailin, ‘The Great Escape’, won first prize, while Urmi Bhattacharjee’s story on rhinoceros poaching in Assam, ‘Inside Kaziranga’s One-Horned Dream’, was the joint runner-up. The jury for this category consisted of Yogesh Kamdar, Smruti Koppikar and Sachin Kalbag.

Jaimon Joseph’s story on Varanasi farmer JP Singh, ‘Why JP Singh is Every Indian Farmer’s Best Friend’ was the runner-up in the ‘Science & Innovation’ category. SK Malhotra, S Ramakrishnan and Lalitha Vaidyanathan formed the jury for this section.

Among those recognised on Saturday was the former Chairperson of Prasar Bharti Mrinal Pande, who received the RedInk award for ‘Lifetime Achievement’. Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayan was the chief guest, and Minister for Information & Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar was the guest of honour.

The awards ceremony was preceded by a panel discussion, ‘Elections 2014: Were We Fair, Or Did We Stoke the NaMo Wave?’ The discussion was moderated by STAR India CEO Uday Shankar, and panelists included: IBN18 Network editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, Ogilvy and Mather executive chairman & creative director Piyush Pandey (whose firm was hired to conceptualise the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election campaign), and chief editor of Dainik Divya Marathi Kumar Ketkar.

Three more pieces from Yahoo Originals were shortlisted for the RedInk Awards 2014. Neha Dixit’s ‘Inside the Chambal School of Languages’ was shortlisted in the ‘Lifestyle & Entertainment’ category, Sohini Chattopadhyay’s ‘Why Can’t HIV Positive Indians Get Life Insurance?’ was shortlisted in ‘Health & Wellness’, and Afrah Shafiq and Deepika Sharma’s ‘Dream Girls’ was shortlisted for ‘Television Story of the Year’.

The Press Club Mumbai’s RedInk Awards, now in their fourth year, were instituted to promote writing of good quality, fair play and high ethical standards. The awards ceremony was attended by eminent journalists and citizens from across the country.