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Excellence in Journalism Award for John Dayal

John Dayal addressing the audience at ICPA Award Ceremony

Three outstanding Catholic journalists were honoured with awards during the 27th National Convention of Christian Journalists hosted by the Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) in Chennai, on December 10.

Father Louis Careno Award 2022 for excellence in journalism was conferred on veteran journalist John Dayal for his bold, continuous, and consistent writing against communalism and fundamentalism.

The ICPA Award for the best reportage on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was bestowed upon Father Irudhaya Jothi, a Jesuit priest and journalist-activist. He has been regularly contributing to major national and international news portals on Dalit issues.

The Swami Devanand Chakkungal Award for contribution to Hindi literature went to Sr Ganga Rawat SSpS, who uses her pen to bring the Word of God to Hindi readers across the country.

The awards were instituted in 2000 to promote the print media and journalism ethics.

The awards were given away by Justice (Retd) Chandru, and as each recipient received the plaque, a citation about the award and a brief description of the award winner was read out.

The former judge spoke on media control which is a stark reality and the need to discuss the growing threat to honest journalists. “True reporting will invite adverse reactions from the state as the government feels threatened. They fear the Fourth Estate,” he said. He also expressed his worry over emerging tendencies of totalitarianism and fascism.

Justice (Retired) hands over Excellence in Journalism Award to John Dayal

Accepting the award, Mr Dayal, who is among India’s foremost voices against human rights violations and an author, said he was accepting it for all journalists who have been killed and incarcerated. He shared his thoughts on the cartelization of the media which the country is facing today.

Father Jothi SJ told the gathering that the verse he chose during his ordination (Luke 4:18, 19) still guides him as he ministers among the Dalits and the tribals as well as women and the marginalized.

After being awarded, Sister Ganga said the pen is a weapon in a positive way and it is still possible to fight with it. A writer and poet, she said there is a great need to encourage and stand for justice.

ICPA Awardees

The ceremony began with a colourful “Thirukural” dance by the girls of Good Shepherd Higher Secondary School, Nungambakkam, Chennai.

Welcoming the award winners, the association members and other guests, Fr Joby Mathew, Treasurer of ICPA, said the convention was felicitating those who have translated the theory of journalism into their works and have been prophetic in their writings.

Father Joby welcomed the chief guest former Judge of Madras High Court Justice (Retd) K Chandru, saying his life proves success is only for those who work for justice. The legal luminary deserves honour for the record of clearing 96,000 cases in just six years. He also scripted history by refusing to have the traditional silver mace-bearing herald while coming to court and did away with the address of “My Lord.”

The guest of honour was Father A Thomas SJ, Principal of Loyola College, Chennai. The other members on the dais included Father K.M. Jose SDB, Provincial of the Chennai Salesian province, and Father Don Bosco, the vice-provincial. Also present on the occasion were Bishop Henry D’Souza, Ecclesiastical Advisor of ICPA, and his predecessor Bishop Salvadore Lobo.

They were all welcomed with a shawl and copy of the Thirukural in English by ICPA President Mr Ignatius Gonsalves.

Mr Gonsalves, in his presidential address, said Justice (Retd) Chandru is an icon and an iconoclast and someone who stood by the marginalized. He added that they were fortunate to have him in their midst as three role models of journalists were being felicitated. He quoted from TS Eliot’s play The Rock: “Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” Mr Gonsalves said these lines have striking parallels to the times we live. He wound up saying the ICPA awards always go to the deserving and that nominations are on the rise each year.

Father Thomas SJ said they are all living in a post-truth society. He said that being a Christian journalist is quite challenging as he can expect bricks instead of bouquets. He congratulated the award-winners for being prophetic voices.

Release of the book “Journalists: Called to be Prophetic Communicators”.

The event also witnessed the release of the book “Journalists: Called to be Prophetic Communicators”. During the event, the Tamil Catholic Association also honoured the three recipients of the awards. The greetings of Archbishop Thomas Menamparambil were read out and copies of his book were distributed.

Father Antony Pancras spoke on a small book penned by Father Jerry SJ on St Devasahayam, one of the saints after whom the venue was named. He said the content in verse form was of interest to journalists. Father Gnani Lazar of the Tamil Catholic weekly “Nam Vazhvu” presented a vote of thanks during which he hailed the award winners as those who left strong footprints on the sands of time.  - with inputs from Fr Johnson, RVA Tamil and other sources


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.