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Inspiring Indians

G Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award for Vijay Karnataka’s Nanjundaswamy

By Team Inspired Indian Foundation | Sept  2019

M Nanjundaswamy (27), a stringer with the Mysuru Bureau of popular Kannada daily Vijay Karnataka, has been selected for the 4 th G Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award 2019. The award is instituted by Inspired Indian Foundation (IIF), a band of unassuming go-getters who find still greater fulfilment in celebrating the unsung heroes in our midst.
The award will be presented on October 19, 2019 in Bengaluru, during the 4 th Guru Kalam Memorial Lecture being organised by IIF in association with Abdul Kalam International Foundation (AKIF), Rameswaram. The award carries a hand-crafted memento, a certificate of appreciation and a Rs 21,000 cash component. This year onwards, IIF will support the awardee in undertaking special assignments that would further the cause of unsung heroes. The awardee will also be a special invitee to various initiatives of the Foundation for the next year. Rekha Satheesh, a Senior Chief Sub-Editor with The New Indian Express, Kochi, was the first recipient of the award in 2016, while Rajeev Kumar Mishra, a Chief Sub-Editor with the Bengaluru edition of Rajasthan Patrika, won the honour in 2017. The award went to Jugal Purohit, a Senior Broadcast Journalist with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) India, in 2018. (Awardees so far:https://bit.ly/2kvMOHl )
This year, the jury included top aerospace and defence scientists, besides writers and teachers, in addition to the trustees of IIF. Nanjundaswamy was chosen from a list of four shortlisted journalists from across India who have been writing on a whole host of issues.
The award has been instituted in the memory of G Shantha, an English teacher hailing from Thalavadi in Kerala’s Alappuzha district. Born in 1942, she dedicated her career to instilling in her young wards an unshakeable belief to chase their dreams wherever she taught, including at Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College, Trichy, Tamil Nadu, and Devasvom Board College, Thalayolaparambu, Kerala, and Mahatma High School for Girls, Chennithala, Kerala. She passed away in 2007 at the age of 65. In addition to her services as a teacher, she worked selflessly to promote the English language among rural kids. She also found time to write short stories and poetry, without ever craving for the limelight.

Humble beginnings
Nanjundaswamy was left with a deformed left hand owing to the misfortune of delayed childbirth. However, this did not deter him from pursuing his dream to become a journalist. Born to farmer couple Madashetty and Bhagyamma in Belathur, a remote village in Chamarajanagar near the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border, Nanjundaswamy has been working as a stringer with Vijay Karnataka for the last two and a half years. Having completed his primary and pre-university education from the Mahadeshwara Math institutes in Male Mahadeshwara Hills in Chamarajanagar, Nanjundaswamy and his family shifted to Mysuru in order to ensure he had access to quality education. While his father took up masonry work in Mysuru, his mother used to work as a house help to make ends meet. His elder brother Umesh works as a crop surveyor.
After the family moved lock, stock and barrel to Mysuru, Nanjundaswamy enrolled at Maharajas College to pursue his BA in Journalism. Stirred by the decisive role the media plays, Nanjundaswamy enrolled at the University of Mysore for his Masters in Communication and Journalism. After completing his masters, he joined Vijay Karnataka.
Nanjundaswamy has been reporting on civic issues, art and culture, science and technology, besides shining a light on the achievements of people with special needs.

A vigilant journalist
Editors at Vijay Karnataka laud Nanjundaswamy as a hardworking journalist with an unwavering focus on the larger interests of society and an unflinching commitment to the core journalistic values.
“We are aware of his humble background. Being a quick learner, he has filed many good stories in a short period since joining us. He is always around to pick up any assignments,” says one of his Editors.
His series of reports on the crisis caused due to the dumping of garbage at Old Kesare area, on the outskirts of Mysuru, was well-received.
“The series made an impact, forcing the government officials to look at alternatives to address the issue. His enthusiasm to get new stories and learn new things makes him a different boy from others,” says another Editor.
They say Nanjundaswamy never sought any concessions on account of his physical limitations and is always ready to pick up assignments in far-flung areas, often proceeding on foot to remote locations without a second thought.

Clear winner Dr Kota Harinarayana, top aerospace scientist and Mentor of IIF, says Nanjundaswamy’s grit and determination despite the many adversities in his life is worth emulating.
“I can relate to his struggle after studying his background and the career growth of this boy. This year, we wanted to look at promising, young journalists whose choice could inspire generations of budding writers. Glad we homed in on the right choice in Nanjundaswamy finally,” says Dr Kota.
IIF began the process of shortlisting the nominees in November last year and, once the final list of candidates was drawn up, a confidential report from their respective Editors was sought, to rate them according to various performance parameters.
“Journalism is a very demanding profession and rarely do we find success stories of those with special needs from the news room. This recognition to Nanjundaswamy, a stringer with Vijay Karnataka, should encourage many others. We were keen that with every award we would want to open doors that were never looked at,” says Sindhu A, Founder Trustee of IIF.

Rural pulse
Reacting to his selection for the award, Nanjundaswamy said that reporting about the success stories of people belonging to economically weaker sections and the differently- abled gave him immense satisfaction.
“I write about such individuals as I wish to encourage them to scale greater heights. This honour has come very early in my career and probably is a reminder to me about the responsibilities I have as a journalist,” says Nanjundaswamy.
The young journalist has set out the goal of doing more stories from rural areas and villages. “They are neglected and mired in problems and I wish to write about their issues often. I know their pulse as I am one among them,” he adds.
Nanjundaswamy’s interests range from numismatics to philately and theatre and he has featured in stage performances with the Nirantara troupe. His musical inclinations have seen him join Carnatic classes as well.
Video: https://bit.ly/2lzCfmS
(Nanjundaswamy can be reached at: mnanjundaswamy1@gmail.com | Twitter: @mnanjundaswamy1.)

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