Thursday, March 8, 2012
The Pioneer’s 2G scam whistleblower bags Goenka Award
The Pioneer News Service
New Delhi January 17, 2012
The Pioneer’s special correspondent J Gopikrishnan won yet another laurel when he received the Ramnath Goenka Journalist of the Year Award in print category here on Monday. CNBC managing editor Udayan Mukherjee was adjudged best journalist of the year in broadcast category . Both of these prestigious awards were for the year 2009.
The two awards, introduced by The Indian Express Group in 2006, carried a cash prize of Rs 2.5 lakh each. The awards were bestowed by Vice-President Hamid Ansari. The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta presided over the well-attended function at Taj Hotel here. Thirty nine other winners in 17 other categories received a prize of Rs.One lakh each.
Popular as Gopi among his colleagues, Gopikrishnan had also won the last year’s CNN-IBN special achievement award and several other felicitations for his remarkable series of stories on the 2G spectrum scam, which shook the UPA Government and led to the arrest of several political biggies and bureaucrats. Dedicating his award to The Pioneer, his colleagues, and Editor-in-Chief Chandan Mitra, Gopi said, “I wanted to name several other people who helped in my pursuit, but since the trial is on, I could not reveal their identities.”
Congratulating Gopi, Chandan Mitra said he rarely met a journalist who achieved so much and yet remained so humble. “He has put on no airs despite the accolades he has received and the many awards he has won. He remains committed to his profession, and profession alone,” Mitra said, adding, “The Pioneer is proud to have such a journalist in our team.”
Gopi first brought the nation’s attention to the massive irregularities in the award of spectrum in early 2008 when a few had heard of the well-crafted conspiracy to plunder the nation’s resources and shortchange the exchequer to tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore by an unholy nexus of politicians, bureaucrats and corporates. Unmindful of the fact that a few newspapers or TV channels cared to follow up his stories, Gopi persisted with his hard work. While he focuses on specifics, he always came out with additional materials to spice up his stories.
In a scam of this magnitude many of the juicy side stories that he shared in the news room could not be published for want of evidence, but they showed his remarkable grasp of the subject and the vast network of his contacts. From personal life of the accused persons to their professional indiscretions, Gopi knew it all. His approach was so professional and meticulous that a few could ever contradict his stories - or accuse him of bias.
Needless to say that in the scam of this proportion, he faced pulls and pressure from different quarters, which he withstood like a true professional, never blinking, never compromising. For someone who started his foray in Delhi journalism four years ago as a little known Kerala stringer, Gopi’s career is not limited to exposing the 2G scam. Consistency has been the hallmark of Gopi, who has regularly come out with front page stories on a diverse range of issues.
The high-point of his 2G scam reporting was the expose of Nira Radia tape that created a sensation and forced the media to take note of the scam. When the CAG report on 2G scam, endorsed nearly every aspect of the scandal so vividly captured by Gopi in his write-ups, the political establishment was forced to act. The then Telecom Minister A Raja had to be ousted from the Union Cabinet, and the Centre had to order CBI probe in the scam.
Speaking on the occasion, Vice-President Ansari said that in a changed and changing world, it would be useful to remember that vibrant journalism in a democracy is watchdog journalism. “It monitors the exercise of power and influence in society and stands for the rights and freedoms of citizens. It informs and empowers citizens rather than entertains and titillates them,” he said.
He added, “Our media, and democracy, are fortunate that we have shining examples of journalists who not only embody the ethical dimension, but sadly, also laid down their life for the same.”