Wednesday, June 30, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Tehelka School of Journalism is looking for sponsors to train Dalits


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Source <>
Date: 30 June 2010 12:21
Subject: Re: Hi

Dear Mr Padavala,

Thank you for the mail. Yes, I do understand the pressing need to ensure equal representation and participation of Dalits in mainstream media and totally support your idea.
However, since Tehelka does mainly non-commercial journalism, it's very tough for us to offer any scholarships as of now but I do really want to help make the media a more accessible profession for Dalits. So I have already initiated the process of looking for sponsors and as soon as I have something lined up, I will inform you.
In the meanwhile, in case there is any development on your side, please do let me know.

warm regds

----- Original Message ----- From: "CHITTIBABU PADAVALA" <>

To: "Source" <>
Sent: Monday, June 28, 2010 2:01 PM
Subject: Re: Hi

Dear Ms. Gunjan Batra,

Let me first thank you for your kind and positive response. A couple
of days ago Tehelka reporter Ms. Sanjana called me up and told me that
Tehelka School of Journalism decided to reserve five seats for dalits
but I was to get the funding for the students. While I assure you that
I shall do everything in my capacity to contribute to your efforts, I
am baffled by this idea. What is the point of reserving 5 seats for
Dalits if they have to pay fees?
Probably a look at ACJ's Dalit scholarship scheme is useful. I think
ACJ's model is good enough to emulate, and if you want to, can even be

On top of waiving the fees and providing free meals and accommodation,
ACJ also offers Rs. 4,000 nominal stipend per month per each Dalit
student. Now that an organisation came forward to top the stipend up
with 4,000 more, Dalit students will get 8,000 per month.

From this year on, we are ( a group of Dalit and non-Dalit journalist,
activists and students campaigning for (larger) presence of Dalits in
mainstream English journalism) also planning to conduct a 3 month
intensive English coaching for Dalit applicants for ACJ before
entrance test/interview. Many distinguished journalism trainers came
forward to become part of this program. ACJ is providing meals and
accommodation for the students during this period and an NGO
notionally agreed to bear the travel expenses for the students.

I am narrating the whole thing in detail just to give you an idea of
one of the important components of our campaign. I am particularly
encouraged by your assurance that you would consider any suitable
candidate we refer to you. Is it possible for you to write an
endorsement such as the one written by  Sashikumar or N. Ram in
whichever way you think could serve the purpose of inviting potential
dalit candidates to enter journalism and also to create
non-discriminatory atmosphere among the media houses?

Here, a highly discouraging fact is that despite an intensive campaign
involving many journalists, Dalit organizations, email groups,
students unions and progressive individuals through presentations and
counseling sessions across the country and individualized
"brainwashing", we managed to get only 107 applications for ACJ
entrance test and sadly not many of them could attend the exam and
only a handful of them cleared it and not more than five got seats.
Mr. Sashikumar told me about a joke among the teachers that even most
of them would fail if they were to take the GK component of the ACJ
entrance test. And, the Dean is planning to soften the criteria to
make test less exclusivist.
This unfortunate state of affairs - unwillingness among young Dalit
people to become journalists and unwillingness of the media houses to
recruit Dalits - is not likely to change immediately but we are
positive about change if many more hands join the effort. Your
contribution to this will really, really make a difference.

Luckily, Tehelka Journalism College's dates could actually help many
unsuccessful candidates for ACJ to make use of the intervening time to
prepare more seriously and get into the course. We are in touch with a
majority of the 107 Dalit students applied for ACJ this year. We can
reach out to them and encourage them to apply for Tehelka School of

An invitation and assurance from you in your name would really help
these young people. Mr. Tejpaul himself could consider writing one if
he thinks it is an important issue. Meanwhile, if you authorize me to
do so, I shall find out from my contacts among the NGOs - among whom
an organization which offered monthly stipends and laptops for Dalit
students to study at ACJ- if they could extend the same to Tehelka
Journalism College.

I have not discussed it with anybody involved in the campaign yet but
you can even think of making at least the certificate program in
writing open to Dalit students for free. It is easy for us then to get
some sponsors for providing accommodation and monthly expenses for
costly stay in and travel within Delhi. My experience is- I am an
activist for the last one and half decades besides being a journalist-
it is not realistic to expect many Dalit students to pay fees to study

I assure you that even if you announce this course to be free for
Dalits, your college is not going to be inundated by too many
applications. I request you to kindly scrap the application fee for
Dalit students, to begin with. It is unusually high. Not a single
institute in the country charges so much for an application from
Dalits for any course. As you know, this year ACJ scrapped application
fee for Dalits altogether.

One might wonder why then the private colleges should go out of their
way to help Dalits study journalism courses and enter the profession
if there is not much enthusiasm or ability among them. This is so
partly due to the limit on the Dalits forced upon by others in which
most of the time we end up demanding or hoping for fair representation
by others than to think of ourselves representing the world.  On top
of that, the Dalits who already managed to enter the mainstream
journalism are not treated well and there
are organizations in the fields without ever letting a single Dalit
journalist work for them. Some of them do write good stuff about
Dalits as long as non-dalits do it.

Many of us think that presence of dalits in the process of news
gathering, framing, presenting brings with it new ways of looking at
things, enriching not only the products but also the process of
news-making. I don't know if Tehelka ever recruited any Dalit as a
journalist to work for them. Probably, you might not have found
anybody good enough to work with you. If it is the failure of Dalits
rather than your own unwillingness to be inclusive, one useful way of
correcting it is to at least make your journalism course accessible to
You can actually train some Dalit journalists in your vision of
journalism and the skills your magazine needs. I am very happy to know
that your journalism training is not for any profit-making. But, that
admirable fact should not be allowed to hamper any
affirmative action to provide a cost-free journalism education for
Dalits. I hope you agree with me that Media needs Dalits as much as
Dalits need media, not just as its consumers but also as contributors.
Tehelka takes pride in being different and in some important ways
innovative and daring in its approach to news. The Tehelka School of
Journalism could  be a story of immediate success with its ability to
draw on the experience and excellence of doing journalism. I am
hopeful that any bold gesture of announcing the courses at Tehelka
School of Journalism free for Dalits would prove to be successful in
attracting, training and employing a decent number of Dalits.

1) Scrapping the application fee
2) Announcing all 3 courses free for Dalit students
3) Issuing a public appeal to funding organizations for helping you in
providing hostel and other expenses for the students you select for
the training
4) Including the Dalit concerns as a major component of your syllabus,
lectures, field work and assignments and highlighting it in the next
round of notifications( I am sure you must have already thought about
some of the above suggestions and necessary ground work has been done)
As of now, further consultations with my comrades in the campaign
pending, I offer:
1) Lobbying with the media organizations for recruiting from Tehelka
School of Journalism
2) Lobbying with the NGOs, individuals to contribute and set up
scholarships for Dalit students
3. Persuading funding organisations and other sources for other help
in the form of equipment, books and other help
4) Providing publicity for the program among our contacts through our
And, of course, any other specific form of help within our capacity.

Please notice that there is nothing on your website about how you
select the candidates. Is there an entrance test? Is it based on
interviews alone or in combination with grades or any other criterion?
If there is a test, do you have examination centres all over the
country? If not specific model papers, at least could you provide a
broad outline of the test?
The above is a bit too broad and refers to programmatic concerns. As
to my specific contribution to recommending candidates for the course,
I assure you to spread the word among the members of the campaign for
Dalits in journalism and also spread the word among my contacts. The
financial support I referred to in our conversation was clearly about
helping Dalit candidates study at Tehelka School of Journalism in the
form of sponsoring laptops, stipend, books, coaching. If you are
unwilling or unable to offer free education to Dalits it is difficult
to persuade funding organizations to chip in. Yet, let me find out if
there are anybody who would come forward to do so.

Chittibabu Padavala

On 28/06/2010, Source <> wrote:
Hi Chittibabu,

The admission process at Source The Tehelka School of Journalism has already
When we last spoke you mentioned that you would find some sponsors who would
financially support the deserving Dalit candidates and I was wondering
whether you have shortlisted the deserving students and their sponsors.
In case you have, please do submit their forms.

Thanking you
warm regds
M: +91 9717707740

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