For the Sake of Honour Award
The Rotary Club of Madras bestowed its most prestigious ‘For the Sake of Honour’ award to Shri Palagummi Sainath. The award was in recognition of his passionate commitment as a journalist to restore the rural poor to India’s consciousness and move the nation towards constructive action.
In his acceptance speech, Shri Sainath thanked RCM for the award. He opened his talk by saying that he was also in agreement on the views of Nobel laureates that poverty in India is much more intense than the statistics suggest,which seems to conceal more than to reveal. According to the National Sample Survey, the average income of a farmer’s household in India (Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu) is Rs 6426,but still lesser in many parts. Socio-economic data shows that 70% of the bread winners of rural households earn less than Rs 5000 per month and 90% earn less than Rs10,000. On the other side of the coin, the Spectrum Wealth Report indicates that India’s growth rate is higher than that of USA’s. Rural India is the most complex and fascinating part of the planet earth.When we talk about rural India – it is a continent within a sub-continent. Shri Sainath said that 833 million people speak 780 languages, out of which only 4% have been educated upto 7th standard. As a result, languages are dying everyday in our country. The awardee touched upon occupations practiced here that are not to be seen in other parts of the world. He cited examples like toddy tapers who climb trees, Calais boat launchers, weavers and potters. He gave credit to our small scale industries and firmly believes that there exists no greater collection of skill sets on earth, than ours.
Shri Sainath requested members to browse www.ruralindiaonline.org. This is a multilingual site that honours Indian languages. The site is a beautiful repository of stories from small-town India. Shri Sainath quoted a story wherein a dalit boy achieved a phenomenal milestone by becoming a classical dancer. There is a whole new world to be discovered between the pages of this website that documents life in the villages and archives rural India.