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JAIJI PETER FOUNDATION – DATE LINE


Backdrop

A traffic accident at Palai in Kerala on 4th May 1997 separated our friend Jaiji Peter from us. He was a young and uncompromising journalist, an indubitable friend, a loving son and brother, a caring husband and father - all rolled into one. His friends at Alappuzha where he had scaled new heights in profession had proposed the idea of setting up an organization to perpetuate his memory.

Jaiji Peter Foundation (JPF), the tearful prayer being offered to the fond memories of Jaiji Peter by his dear and near ones, has unfurled into a small but meaningful conglomeration during the past. Not being just confined to the mundane role of commemorating the memory of the departed soul every year, the Foundation has carved out a space for itself in the Kerala polity by sharing its concern on Earth and its existence, an issue which Jaiji Peter always tried to espouse in his life time.

Curtain Raiser

The residence of Mr.P.O.Philip was a favorite haunt for leading journalists of Alappuzha in 1990s including Jaiji. After the demise of Jaiji, the main discussions at their meetings revolved around how Jaiji’s memory could be commemorated. After several rounds of discussions, it was decided to institute an award in his name for all round performance in journalism.

It was agreed that Rs 1,000 each be collected from the close friends of Jaiji and the amount be handed over to the Kerala Press Academy or any other similar organisation for giving away the award every year using the interest received from the amount deposited in a bank. Accordingly, the letters were sent to over 100 friends of Jaiji. The response was over-whelming. Though the target was Rs one lakh, the organisers could raise Rs.2,56,000. Of the total amount, Rs.One lakh was donated by Jaiji’s father and his siblings. We received donations in the range of Rs.100 to 10,000. In all, 126 persons donated to a noble cause. The JPF still keeps their address and the amount they donated.

The over-whelming response to the fund collection drive bestowed more responsibilities upon the organisers. Several well wishers expressed their fear on handing over the fund to an institution which has no direct link with Jaiji. They raised the question that if the fund was handed over to any institution as decided earlier, what was the guarantee that it would be able to give away the award every year without any break. Many donors were of the view that the fund should be maintained by the organisers themselves. Finally, it was decided to form an entity for the management of the fund and for giving away the award.

Thus, at a meeting held at Narasimhapuram Auditorium in Alappuzha on 12th January 1998 under the chairmanship of Mr.P.O Philip, Jaiji Peter Journalism Foundation was formed. Mr.P.O.Philip and Jaiji’s father Fr.A.J Peter were made the patrons of the Foundation. Mr.P.Venugopal and Mr.Ravi Varma Thampuran were elected president and secretary respectively. The objective of organisers was to develop the Foundation as an institution dedicated for exclusive research in journalism on the line of the Thomson Foundation.

By the time of registration (under Charitable Societies Act), the name of the organisation was changed to Jaiji Peter Foundation. The foundation was inaugurated by the great Malayalam Short Story Writer and Novelist Mr.Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai.

Ecologue – The social commitment of JPF

It was the time when the Forest Department launched its ``Participatory Forest Management’’ programme in 1998 Mr.James Zacharia, then the Thekkady Range Officer, who is also a close friend of the founders of Jaiji Peter foundation as well as Jaiji Peter himself, presented a proposal on a programme to promote public awareness on the growing needs of preserving forest and other eco-systems. Foundation readily accepted it, thus born the programme “Ecologue” now “ecologue™” (Dialogue between journalists and conservation activists on ecology) with the slogan ’Converge Ideas, Conserve Nature’.

The Foundation feels that the most effective way to intervene in the conservation of the nature is to create awareness among the journalists. The Foundation has achieved a commendable success in developing the “ecologue™” into an ideal forum for it. The “ecologue™” provides an opportunity for journalists and activists to discuss the crucial environmental issues with the Forest Department officials and experts every year while spending couple of days amidst a serene forest.

The proposals emerging from these discussions are codified and submitted to the State Government. Our experience so far is that the government has accepted the proposals and made them a basic guideline while taking policy decisions. The Foundation can proudly say that the “ecologue™” has added a new chapter in environmental conservation in the State of Kerala.

The Foundation has made it a point that half of the participants at an “ecologue™” should be new faces. The motivation, the interest and the commitment inculcated by the participants from the “ecologue™” can be noticed in their post-“ecologue™” activities.

The phenomenal increase in the number of journalists applying for taking part in “ecologue™” is a clear indication of the success of the programme. More than 500 journalists both from print and visual media had participated in all the eleven “ecologue™”. For the first time, Journalism students from various institutes in the State were given an opportunity to attend the “ecologue™” held at the Silent Valley in 2011.

In all, eleven “ecologue™” were held so far. They were at Thekkady (September 1998), Vallakkadavu (February 2000), Munnar (November 2000), Thattekkad (November 2001), Thekkady (November 2002), Munnar (December 2003), Thekkady (September 2004), Thenmala (January 2010), Silent Valley (January 2011), Thekkady (2012), Thattekkad (May 2013)

As the Foundation is not financially sound to conduct an “ecologue™” independently, Forest Department of Govt.of Kerala was financially supporting “ecologue™”. Since the entry was free and the worthiness and popularity, it was a hard and troublesome job for Foundation to restrict the entry according to the budget of Forest Department.

However in 2013 Foundation decided to conduct “ecologue™”on a ”participant partially contributing scheme”. Foundation tried the new scheme in it’s 11th “ecologue™”.at Thattekkad on May 3rd & 4th 2013 and found successful. 2014 and 2015 also foundation followed the same pattern.


Cash Awards to Journalists

The award consisted of a cash prize of Rs.10001, a memento and a citation. It was instituted on the lines of the Oscar Award. Over 200 prominent journalists and others were asked to nominate a journalist and a judging panel selected the winner.

Mr.N.P.Rajendran of `Mathrubhoomi' was selected for the first Jaiji Peter Foundation Award by the judging panel headed by veteran journalist Mr.T.J.S Gorge. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer presented the award at a grant function held at the Aiswarya Auditorium in Alappuzha on 4th May 1998, on the first death anniversary of Jaiji Peter. Cartoonist Mr.Gopikrishna was selected for the second Jaiji Peter Award in 1999. The third Award went to `The New Indian Express' Principle Correspondent Ms.Leela Menon in 2000.

Fellowship to Journalists

On 2nd Jan 2000, Mr.Ravivarma Thampuran, then the Secretary of Foundation, presented the ‘Action Plan for New Millennium’. Foundation decided to lay more focus on the perspective regarding the preservation of environment and instituted a fellowship of Rs. 15,000 to young journalists to pursue a study on environmental issues, instead of giving awards.

Mr.C.Narayanan of ‘Mathrubhoomi' was given the first fellowship to study on the ‘Environmental Degradation of Bharatapuzha’ in 2001. Mr.Sasidharan Mankathil of `Mathrubhoomi' was selected for the second fellowship to conduct study on the ‘Landslides in the High Range’ in 2002. Mr.P.K. Prakashan of `Madhyamam' was given the third fellowship to pursue his study on the ‘Deforestation in Idukki’ in 2003. They had submitted their study reports to the Foundation.

Gold Medal to Environmental Activists

The fall in the amount of interest received from the bank deposit made the fellowship scheme financially unviable, forcing the Foundation to do away with the scheme. It was later deiced to give a gold medal of one sovereign every year to an environmental activist who dedicated his life to protect the nature.

The first Jaiji Peter Foundation Gold Medal was presented to Mr.N.K..Sukumaran Nair (for 2006) who has been spending his time and energy for the past several years to save River Pampa. The second medal went to Mr.Purushan Eloor (for 2007) who has been waging a one man fight against the pollution of river Periyar by industrial units in the Aluva – Kochi belt. Mr.John Peruvamthaanam was selected for the third (for 2008) gold medal in recognition of his fights for protecting Pooyamkutty and surrounding forest areas.

Cash Award of Rs.10000/-(Ten Thousand) to Environmental Activists

The skyrocketing gold price compelled the Foundation to give up the practice of honoring environmentalists by presenting gold medals. So it was decided to present a cash award of Rs.10,000 to an environmentalist every year who renders commendable service for the conservation of nature.

In 2009, Mr.V.N. Gopinatha Pillai was honored by presenting the cash award for his commendable and adventurous intervention for protecting River Manimala from sand mafia.

In 2010, the cash award was presented to Mr.Madhuraj, Chief News Photographer, Mathrubhoomi Periodicals. Photographs and textual presentations in his 114 page special issue of Mathrubhumi weekly published on 26th Dec 2010 were phenomenal in creating a broad awareness in Kerala on a very serious environmental issue especially supporting the victims of the deadly pesticide Endosulfan in Kasaragod district of Kerala.

In 2011, Smt.Pallickal N. Bhavani adjudged the Jaiji Peter Environmental Award.
The 75 year old housewife, N. Bhavani’s 15 years of fight against the uncontrolled sand mining at West bank of Kallada river entitled her this prestigious environmental award of Kerala.

In 2012, well known ornithologist Dr.R.Sugathan was honored by presenting the Cash Award for his dedicated and selfless effort in preserving the nature through his research and training.

In 2013, 64 years old Kalloor Balan, a former Abkari contractor who quit that money minting business for conservation of the environment has been honored by presenting the Cash Award. Balan had planted more than four lakhs trees in Palakkad and Trichur Districts.

In 2014, 67 years old Cheruvayal Raman from Mananthavady of Vayanad District has been honored by presenting the cash Award and Citation for his commendable and selfless efforts in conserving the traditional form of agriculture and more than 40 varieties paddy seeds.

In 2015, 65 year old Mr.Abdul Kareem of Kasargod, Kerala, India has been honored by presenting the cash Award and Citation for his forestation programme using his traditional knowledge base and common sense. He turned 32 acres of barren land at Puliyankulum, Kasargod in Kerala into a natural mixed forest.

Cash Award of Rs.25000/-(Twenty Five Thousand) to Environmental Activists

In 2016, JPF reviewed the prevailing scenario of increasing number of Awards and diminishing value of cash awards. Though cash strapped, JPF decided to increase the award amount to Rs.25000/-(Twenty Five Thousand)

2016 Jaiji Peter Foundation Environmental Award Rs.25000/- and Citation presented to Dr.Mrs.A.Latha, Director of River Research Centre and Member of Chalakudy Puzha Samrakshana Samathy.Her prolonged and selfless effort in conserving rivers of Kerala in common and Chalakudy River in particular has been considered to select her for this Award.

Finance

The Rupees Two Hundred Thousand (200000/-) balance amount after the expenses of the first award function in 1998 is kept in bank fixed deposit. The award/fellowship is given with the interest amount obtained from this fixed deposit. The expenses of the Foundation are met with contributions made time to time by the individuals who are still actively involved in the activities of the Foundation.

The income and expenditure accounts of the Foundation are properly maintained and audited by a chartered accountant every year. The general body meeting of the Foundation is held and the office-bearers are elected in every year as per the relevant sections under the byelaw.



 

   
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