Science Correspondent Pallava Bagla Wins Indian Award for Agriculture Journalism

Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi (left) presented the award to Pallava Bagla during ICAR's 86th Founding Day celebrations. | Press Information Bureau-India

Science correspondent Pallava Bagla has received the 2013 Chaudhary Charan Singh Award for Excellence in Journalism in Agricultural Research and Development. The award was presented to Bagla on 29 July by the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The award from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is named after former Prime Minister Charan Singh, a champion of farming. It recognizes outstanding contributions in agricultural journalism in newspapers, magazines, journals, and electronic media in India.

The award citation said Bagla's work demonstrates a "deep insight into scientific issues that has contributed to a better public understanding of science in India through electronic media," and praised him specifically for his reporting on India's agricultural development and gains from the Green Revolution.

Bagla received the award at a special event in New Delhi marking ICAR's 86th Founding Day. Agricultural experts met to discuss ICAR's programs and the role of science and technology in helping farmers be more productive, particularly in the face of a severe monsoon-season drought now facing the country. At the event, Modi called for ICAR to help India's farmers combat the drought with "per drop, more crop" measures to increase soil fertility and conserve water.

Bagla said the award is special to him "since it is about work that I have done that directly touches the lives of 600 million Indians, since more than half of India is directly engaged in agriculture...it touches the lives of the poorest of the poor in India and other developing countries."

By 2050, he continued, India will need to double its food production with the help of technology to feed its growing population. "This is really about how to craft a better future for almost one-sixth of the population of the world."

With Science International News Editor Richard Stone and former Science Editor-in-Chief Bruce Alberts, Bagla helped organize an historic televised debate on genetically modified crops in India, featured in the 3 May 2013 issue of the journal. Later that month, Bagla and Stone collaborated on Science's cover story and special news feature about the promise of science and technology for India's poor.

"For 20 years, Pallava has set the tone and pace of Science's India coverage. His extensive contacts and sharp news eye are especially apparent in the stories we've run on food security and the debate over the future of genetically modified crops in India," said Stone. " I'm thrilled that the Indian government has recognized Pallava for his work in this area. It's a great honor for him and for Science."

Bagla won the Outstanding Journalism award from the United Nations-sponsored Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR )in 2003. Based in India, he also serves as the Science Editor for New Delhi Television.