Palagummi Sainath is the winner of the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts. He is currently the rural affairs editor of The Hindu.
P. Sainath, whose intelligent and insightful views on agriculture, caste, media and other matters have been greatly appreciated by countless readers, has been awarded the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay award for Journalism, Literature, Creative Communication Arts. He is a photojournalist focusing on social problems, rural affairs, poverty and the aftermaths of globalization in India. In selecting him the winner, the board of trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation awards committee "recognizes his passionate commitment as a journalist to restore the rural poor to India's consciousness, moving the nation to action."
He spends between 270 and 300 days a year in the rural interior (in 2006, over 300 days) and has done so for the past 14 years. He is the Rural Affairs Editor for The Hindu, and contributes his columns to India Together. His work has won praise from the likes of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen who referred him as "one of the world's great experts on famine and hunger". Over decades of reporting, he has established himself as among the pre-eminent chroniclers of rural life in our times. His stories, photo-essays, and other work record an India seldom visible to many of us. His writing has provoked responses that include the revamping of the Drought Management Programs in the state of Tamil Nadu, development of a policy on indigenous medical systems in Malkangiri in Orissa, and revamping of the Area Development Program for tribal people in Madhya Pradesh state. The Times of India institutionalized his methods of reporting and sixty other leading newspapers initiated columns on poverty and rural development. At the same time, he writes articles on international economics and politics and critiquing the "corporate-owned" mass media. The photographs he has taken in rural India have resulted in several highly acclaimed photo exhibitions.
Through his work on the India's social problems, Sainath changed the nature of the development debate the country and across the world. His bestselling book, Everybody Loves a Good Drought, helped focus public attention on the condition of India's rural poor, increasing public awareness and support. Today, more than any other journalist in India, he has been responsible for the attention brought to the raging farmers' suicides in the country. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Agriculture Commission in Andhra Pradesh to suggest ways for improving agriculture in that state.
Sainath received the A.H. Boerma Award in 2001 for his contributions. In July 2004, he was awarded the Prem Bhatia Award for excellence in political reporting and analysis for 2003-04 in recognition of his "outstanding, indeed exceptional, work on the problems of the poorest of the poor, especially in Andhra Pradesh." Sainath earned numerous prizes, both national and international.