By Ram Khatry, Sydney
24 July 2017
I was in Brisbane when Deepa Rai, a friend of mine from Victoria, told me that I had created quite a “stir”. I had absolutely no idea what Ms Rai was referring to. She understood my confusion and explained how journalist Hemanta Kafle had proposed that I should be this year’s “NRNA Media Person of the Year”.
Few days earlier, Dilli Dhakal, another friend, who always encourages me to continue my community journalism through southasia.com.au, had called me advising I should fill up a nomination form for the same award. He offered to back me up. But I almost laughed when he said it was me (or, the one aspiring to be “awarded”) who should fill up the form. In other words, I should put in an application to be honoured with an “award”? I may sound ignorant but is this the standard process of conferring medals? Do Nobel Prize winners fill up a form before they win the world’s greatest award? I sincerely hope this is not right. But if it is then it is monumentally funny and I am not ready to be a part of the joke.
I was in Brisbane for a research at the time. It turned out that my friends there had already filled up nomination forms on my behalf, without my knowledge. I am thankful to Dr Bharat Raj Poudel and Kiran Khanal for considering me worthy of the “award”. I am not sure who else did but I have been told few other friends and well-wishers did fill up the form in my support. And I am thankful to each one of you!
However, if only I had known in advance then I would have stopped them from doing so for a number of reasons that I do not find appropriate to mention publicly.
In my emailed response to Dr Poudel, long before the award was given over the weekend, I made it clear that I was not interested in any awards. Why am I not interested in awards? The answer, again, I can’t publicly narrate.
However, the very fact that my friends had filled up the nomination form was such a special feeling! It filled me with renewed enthusiasm to continue what I have been doing for the last two years. I felt as if my sacrifice was not in vain after all. That, as well as comments on Mr Kafle’s Facebook post encouraged me immensely to keep producing news and feature stories. Hence, I am writing this article for “Platform”, a category that allows anyone to write about anything under the sun, to say “Thank you” to my friends and well-wishers.
I would also like to publicly request my friends not to fill up the recommendation or nomination form for me in 2019. I am saying this because I already have a feeling few of them would do so. I humbly and respectfully decline, two years in advance.
I do not work expecting awards. My award is your continued appreciation, love and encouragement. That’s all I need.
I am just back home to my wife and five-year-old daughter after having driven over 4500 kilometres that took me to Brisbane, Toowoomba, Cobar, Broken Hill, Silvertone and the quaint country town of Hay in New South Wales. As I settle back and try to recover from the long journey, I would make avail of the same “renewed enthusiasm” to write few stories researched during the drive. Let me call it the dividends of my “pro bono journalism”.
A young man within the past NRNA Australia executive team told me that the award is given only to people who are NRNA members. I asked a friend of mine, who is well-wired into the community matrix, to check if this was true. But he has not gotten back to me yet; by experience I know he wouldn’t.
Supposing it is true, how bizarre is the fact that NRNA Australia would require a person to be its member before it would recognise his or her good work? Does this mean anyone outside the 8000 members would never be recognised by the organisation even if he or she makes substantial contribution to the community or achieves excellence in his or her chosen field?
NRNA Australia should ensure that its awards committee is powerful and well-resourced so that the deserving members of the community are recognised for their work and contribution. Cheap “connectionism” will discourage the good and deserving and will only create angst in the community. Therefore, wrong dispensation of the awards will harm the diaspora instead of unifying it.
Under no circumstances should the executive committee be allowed to change the decision of the awards committee. Why else should it have the awards committee then? I have been told there have been instances of the awards committee’s decision being altered by the executive committee. That must be stopped.
NRNA is a unique organisation. I have not seen such a body in any other diasporas. Therefore, I wish luck to Tonnou Ghothane and his team to work constructively for the good of their community. Mr Ghothane is a well-educated man who I hope would hold quality above connections and petty self-interest.