ICPA Annual Awards 2020
Indian Catholic Press Association honoured noted peace activist Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, conferring its prestigious annual ‘Louis Careno Award for Excellence in journalism’ for his bold writings against communalism and fundamentalism that is gaining ground globally. It also awarded Rev. Fr Santosh Kumar Digal for best reportage on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for consistently being the voice of people’s rights, especially of the tribals. Rev. Fr John Deepak Sulya, SVD received the ICPA’s Swami Devanand Chakkungal award for Best Hindi Writer for his significant contributions to Hindi literature. The Awards were conferred by former Supreme Court Judge Justice Kurien Joseph during the 25th National Convention of Christian Journalists, held at Don Bosco Centre, Delhi on 29th February 2020.
In his address, Justice Joseph reminded the gathering that it is our collective duty to safeguard the Constitution and Secularism is the basic structure that cannot be altered.. He also asserted that journalism is a mission, more than a profession. He closed his speech by quoting an extract from Pope Francis’ address to the Foreign Press Association of Italy: “I therefore urge you to work according to truth and justice, so that communication is truly an instrument for building, not for destroying. for meeting, not for clashing; for dialoguing, not for monologizing; for orienting, not for disorienting; for understanding, not for misunderstanding for walking in peace, not for sowing hatred; for giving a voice to those who have no voice, not for being a megaphone to those who shout louder.”
Addressing the gathering after receiving the award, Archbishop Emeritus Menamparampil spoke about the importance of dissent, its legitimacy and its need for the emergence of common wisdom. He also urged the members of the audience to engage in intelligent dialogue for the truth to emerge eventually. He ended his speech by speaking about the need for values (dharma). “Let noble thoughts come to us from every side,” he said, quoting the Rig Veda.
Louis Careno Award for excellence in journalism is a joint venture of the Mumbai Province of the Salesians of Don Bosco and the Indian Catholic Association (ICPA), while the SC/ST Reportage Award is a joint venture of the ST Commission of the CBCI and the ICPA, the Swami Devanand Chakkungal award for contribution to Hindi literature is jointly given by the Indore Province of the Society of the Divine Word and the ICPA.
About the Award Winners
Archbishop Menamparampil’s name is synonymous with peace, inter-community dialogue and social harmony. His incisive, thought-provoking writings on these subjects have broken new grounds. His razer-sharp analysis of socio-cultural and political issues, especially relating to North-East, have led to soul-searching debates and concrete peace initiatives, for which he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
Having spent a lion’s share of his life in the North-East, the Kerala-born 84 year old Archbishop’s writings reflect his deep understanding of the region’s cultural values and ethnic diversity. He minces no words in raising his voice against irrational, biased and unfair policies and decisions of the governments of all times. His articles are marked by scholarly insights, adding to their relevance.
Archbishop Thomas was asked by Pope Benedict XVI to prepare the meditation prayers for Way of the Cross in 2009, which the Pope himself led on Good Friday at the Roman Colosseum. He is the only Indian and second Asian to prepare the meditation prayers for the ‘Way of the Cross’ led by the Holy Father.
Santhosh Digal, a Catholic priest-journalist from the Archdiocese of Cuttack Bhubaneswar, has been regularity contributing to major national and international news portals on tribal issues. His stories have appeared in The Herald (Calcutta), The Examiner (Bombay), The New Leader (Chennai), The Indian Currents (Delhi), The Teenager (Bombay), JIVAN (Jesuit news and views magazine, Gujarat), The People’s Reporter (Kerala), The Tablet (London), mattersindia.com (Delhi), Union of Asian Catholic News (UCA News), South Asian Religious News (SAR News), AsiaNews (Rome), Fides (Rome), Independent Catholic News (London), uca.news/LiCAS.news (Bangkok), Philippine News Agency, CBCP News, The Catholic Times, and World Mission (all from Manila). He has worked as a sub-editor at Orissa Post (English daily from Bhubaneswar), English tabloid “YUVA SAMBAD” of prominent Odia daily SAMBAD (Bhubaneswar), and Kloud 9 (monthly English magazine) for high school and college students published from Bhubaneswar.
Digal’s writings have been mainly focusing on human rights, freedom of religion, religious persecution and marginalized communities (Dalits and Tribals) across India. He has also extensively reported on communal violence, most importantly the anti-Christian violence of Kandhamal in 2008 and its aftermath. He has been the voice of people’s rights especially of the poor Tribals who are more susceptible to exploitation and injustice.
Fr John Deepak Sulya, a Divine Word Missionary based in Indore, has been chosen for the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Hindi Literature. Fr Sulya has been using his pen to make the Word of God as comprehensible as possible in the current literary Hindi that would be appropriate and understandable not only to Catholics but people of other faiths. He uses literary genre that flows smoothly, using words that are delicately and specifically chosen not to hurt the cultural sentiments of the local population.