AMITABHA CHOWDHURY has been in the
vanguard of a new journalism in the Bengali press. He sees the modern Indian
intellectual as the heir to an ethical system and a philosophical culture,
who, whether he is a politician or government official, is judged by his
honesty, self-sacrifice and the urge he shows to public service. It is to
this tradition that AMITABHA CHOWDHURY has courageously responded.
Now Assistant Editor of Jugantar, an influential Calcutta daily newspaper in
Bengali, his crusading sensitivity to the problems of his fellowmen was
demonstrated soon after he joined the staff 12 years ago. Assigned to report
on the great movement of refugees in Bengal following the partition of India
and Pakistan, he introduced a humanized style of writing in the Bengali
press and established his newspaper as a champion of the cause of the
As a Parliamentary Reporter, he next chronicled the actions of officials and
the political forces that influence them. The rapid expansion of government
bureaus, the corruption, inflation and the loss of pride in official
morality all were portrayed with concern for the reason as well as the fact.
He was dismayed to find that much of the press, reared in a tradition of
protest against foreign rule, was largely apathetic to this drama of what
leaders of Bengal were making of India's independence.
Taking up the challenge in 1956, he began a weekly column entitled Nepathya
Darshan, or "Scenes Behind the Curtain," which gave the angry and
dissatisfied Bengali intellectuals and poor men alike their first effective
means of voicing legitimate grievances. Instilling hope in an atmosphere of
deepening frustration, he meticulously documented and exposed more than 250
cases of abuse of power in high levels of government. The result was the
dismissal, demotion or initiation of legal action against some 50 delinquent
officials. The column also aroused constructive public debate of social
maladies by its examination in depth of causes and possible remedies.
An Indian leader in the use of this journalistic skill, his reporting
bespeaks a deep concern for human welfare. With uncompromising integrity and
rare boldness he has upheld high ethical standards for his profession as a
guardian of the public conscience.
In electing AMITABHA CHOWDHURY to receive the 1961 Ramon Magsaysay Award for
Journalism and Literature, the Board of Trustees recognizes his scrupulous
and probing investigative reporting in protection of individual rights and