Please tell us about yourself

Principal correspondent for the Ludhiana Bureau of The Tribune Kanchan Vasdev has bagged this year’s Prabha Dutt Fellowship for Excellence in journalism.

The fellowship is given every year to mid-career woman journalists to encourage in-depth research and investigative stories.

In the ceremony that held today at the All-India Women’s Press Club in the Capital, Inder Malhotra, noted columnist and author, presented the fellowship to Kanchan.

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What is this fellowship for?

Prabha Dutt’s daughters, Barkha Dutt and Bahar Dutt, famous television journalists, were also present on the occasion. Barkha Dutt (NDTV group editor) said, “This fellowship recognises good work and aims at encouraging it. This year, the fellowship amount has been raised to Rs 1 lakh. We hope that Kanchan will bring out an excellent report”.

Kanchan is currently heading the Ludhiana Bureau of The Tribune group of newspapers. She is the youngest female bureau chief of the newspaper.

What did you study?

A Masters in zoology from Punjabi University, Patiala, Kanchan had also won Investigative Journalist Award bestowed by the Press Club, Chandigarh, in 2006.

What do you plan to do with this fellowship?

Through this fellowship, Kanchan aims to work on her project on the women left in the lurch by NRIs after bogus promises of marriage.

“These women have nowhere to go. Today, as many as 30,000 affected women wait for their visas and transfer papers, which may never arrive. My work will aim to revoke action from the government’s side.”

“Stringent rules have to be put in place so that any NRI never even thinks about victimising any more women,” she added.

She believes that women holding position of importance are duty-bound to encourage other women breaking the shackles.

Tell us about your work

Extremely sensitive to environment issues and women rights, she has highlighted women’s plight and environment degradation in her decade-long career. Her stories on the toxicity caused by Budda Nullah, a river transformed into a sewer drain in Ludhiana, moved the judiciary. Her poignant reporting on the condition of the children of a Punjab village, who burnt their legs when they accidentally stepped on industrial ash dumped on their playgrounds, caused an uproar, forcing the government to shut down the factory.

The fellowship, managed by the Sanskriti Pratishthan, was instituted in memory of Prabha Dutt, who was among India’s first few woman journalists. Dutt died at the young age of 40 in 1984 due to haemorrhage.