Newsweek & The Daily Beast and the Open Hands Initiative are proud to announce that the 2012 winner of our annual prize is Mumbai-based freelance writer Dilip D’Souza, for his elegant, vivid, and powerful reports—from the business of tutoring in India to how a rural hospital struggles to keep people alive.
D’Souza’s byline has appeared in many publications—The Times of India, Tehelka, The Glasgow Herald, The Washington Post, Salon.com, and Livemint.com, where you can find his fortnightly mathematics column, “A Matter of Numbers.” In fact, there was a time when D’Souza seemed more likely to write computer programs than books and articles. This former electrical engineer and computer scientist now has three books to his credit. His most recent is Roadrunner: An Indian Quest in America. On his blog “Death Ends Fun” he proudly proclaims, “I’m not leftist. I’m not rightist. I’m a typist—in there like swimwear.”
The finalists included Shoma Chaudhury, Sonia Faleiro, Nasim Fekrat, Vidya Subrahmaniam, Praveen Swami, and Rajini Vaidyanathan. We wish to thank all of the numerous people who submitted for the prize. We were greatly impressed with the quality, sophistication, and wide range of topics we received from every country in South Asia.
On behalf of the judges, Morning Edition executive producer and judge Madhulika Sikka said: “Dilip D’Souza writes with a grace and vibrancy that brings India, in all its glorious contradictions, alive. Dilip combines astute reporting with narratives that transport the reader; from the aspirations of India’s newest generation of go-getters to a heartbreaking story of the poorest citizens seeking medical treatment or what happens when the world’s most famous cricketer moves in next door. I am looking forward to reading his dispatches for The Daily Beast as I am confident he will open a window into the multifaceted story that is India today.”
D’Souza said upon hearing of his winning the prize, “I am overwhelmed to get the Newsweek & The Daily Beast–Open Hands Prize. It is a terrific initiative and when my editor nominated me, naturally I hoped to win. But to actually win it is a great and yet humbling thrill.
"I used to live in the USA. Twenty years ago I made a choice to return to India and write for a living. It's a move I've never regretted, because to me, India is absolutely the most fascinating country in the world. Often frustrating and perverse, yes, but fascinating for being those things too. Writing about issues and themes in India, I often feel, is above all a journey of discovery: to find out for myself what makes my country, and what's my place in it.
That's how I see my work every day. And that's the spirit I hope to bring to my contributions to The Daily Beast. This is a tremendous opportunity, and also a challenge. I can't wait to sink my teeth into it.”
The prize was created for South Asian journalists and writers covering the region to celebrate and nurture raw talent and find fresh voices. The aim of this prize is to promote and support the work of an individual who has contributed thoughtful, important, and engaging commentary on the great social, political, and cultural issues of their region.
The Open Hands Initiative is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving people-to-people understanding and friendship throughout the world through exchanges and other projects that emphasize our basic shared values and common humanity. It specializes in diplomacy that is by and for ordinary people, emphasizing dialogue and mutual respect between the people of the United States and the rest of the world.