Actor Sonu Sood was honoured with The Week’s Man of the Year award on Friday. Labelled the ‘messiah of migrants’, Sood was recognised for his efforts to help lakhs of migrant labourers and students, who were stranded during the pandemic, reach home with his ‘Ghar Bhejo’ campaign.
Sood is the 38th Man of the Year of The Week. The first Man of the Year issue was published in 1983 with social activist Baba Amte on the cover.
The Bollywood actor thanked The Week Editor Philip Mathew, Chief Associate Editor and Director Riyad Mathew, Senior Correspondent Mini P. Thomas and photo editor Sanjoy Ghosh while accepting the award. The award ceremony was held virtually, in line with The Week’s policy of adhering to COVID-19 protocols.
“I want to thank The Week and Malayala Manorama for this honour. It really feels special. I believe whatever little we could do for the society, this award made it more special,” he said in a video message.
“I want to thank Mr Philip Mathew, Riyad Mathew, Mini Thomas and Sanjoy Ghosh―You all simply rock. And I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart and I will keep trying to give my best. This made my day. God bless you all.”
During the lockdown in April and May, as thousands of migrant workers started walking home, desperate and helpless, Sood and his friend Neeti Goel decided to act. The duo arranged transport for 7.5 lakh migrants with the Ghar Bhejo campaign. In addition, he helped students who were stranded abroad, frontline workers and farmers in distress.
Author and The Week columnist Shobhaa De felicitated Sood, lauding his efforts to mitigate the hardships faced by the less fortunate as India witnessed the biggest migrant crisis in its history since Partition while struggling to contain the spread of the virus.
“What Sonu Sood has achieved during the pandemic―one man, what he demonstrated―has inspired thousands of people to pitch in with their efforts. When Sonu Sood sent back so many migrant workers, at a time when the plight of the workers was just about getting known to the rest of the world, he set an example. He told us what is possible. If we want to retain our humanity, all we have to do is reach out and help those who need our help,” De said.
Speaking at the ceremony, The Week’s Deputy News Editor Mathew T. George said that there was “no one more deserving to be our Man of the Year 2020” than Sood, adding that the actor represented the innate goodness that springs from the human heart.
“He represents those Indians who did not have much, but gladly opened their hearts and wallets to help their less-fortunate brethren, expecting nothing at all, not even thanks. At a time when everyone wants to buy their way into God’s good books, Mr Sood reminded us that Manava seve Madhava seva―service to mankind is indeed service to the Lord. Thank you, Mr Sood, for standing up to be counted,” he said.
Sood has continued the good work by going above and beyond to help those in need, showing us how important it is to come together in these trying times and be human.