I am Aananth Daksnamurthy from Tamil Nadu, India. The Centre for Publishing, New York University has offered me a place in their very small cohort of MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media graduate programme for fall 2022. However, the only barrier holding me back is the cost of attending the programme.
While I am very proud to say that I have been conferred with the prestigious Fulbright- Nehru master's fellowship, the grant is able to only cover the tuition & other expenses partly, for it is a 2-year course. Hence, I am reaching out to you through this campaign to help me with the outstanding deficit amount. I have appended the details of the same towards the end of this page.
I would arguably be the first ever Fulbright scholar globally to pursue a graduate programme in publishing. I represent a minority community and one of the handful to have embarked on a publishing journey.
Voices that come with certain privilege, network and access always get a higher pedestal whereas the doors for marginalised people and their voices are systematically closed at every turn. This is especially true for language, which is also a privilege in a country like India where several are spoken. Some languages help you get heard, others are lost in translation, quite literally.
I hope the outcome will be an outstanding publishing platform that brings the voices of Indian language writers to the stage that they deserve globally. I also envisage this as a cross-translation model that works for all languages someday, especially the ones that are not mainstream yet.
Raised by my widowed father, a first-generation graduate who majored in Tamil literature (also economics & law), epics from Sangam literature became my bedtime stories. Brought up as a rationalist, our temple trips were only to explore the poetry from the Bhakti movement. These stories became serious literature for me when my father took me to the local literary meetings.
I took the traditional Indian higher education route and enrolled in engineering. But I also explored the non-engineering subjects here that got me more excited about humanities. After engineering, at a crucial juncture of my life, I chose the multidisciplinary Liberal arts, and joined the ‘Young India Fellowship’ (YIF). I was one among the 200 young Indians selected and one of the handful to be awarded full scholarship, where majority of students were from affluent backgrounds. The year-long critical writing seminar particularly put me through rigorous coursework, and gave me the confidence to write and strengthened my vision for Tamil literature. My transformation from being a reluctant English speaker and writer to a confident and effective communicator happened here, thanks to the mentorship of my writing preceptor. My life and aims were now shaping up, finally. I had a direction.
What have I done so far?
YIF gave me an unquenchable thirst for reading, and I reached out to several authors and publishers. I witnessed how Indian vernacular languages were ignored by the mainstream publishers and how only a meagre percent goes to writers in the name of royalty. At the same time, I also learnt how in Western countries auctions and pre-emptive offers are made for authors. This self-exploration made me realise that it is only the publisher who can change the appalling condition of the publishing industry and uplift aspiring vernacular writers.
In parallel, with my professional journey, I was gathering experiences in publishing in various ways – journalism, outreach and content marketing in the digital space. In my first job, I had the privilege to work with the tallest journalist -- Mr Shekhar Gupta -- in building news media startup ThePrint. While my day job was a Business Analyst, my interest in writing got me to do political reportage, features and get published.
You can find all the articles under my byline here - https://theprint.in/author/aananth-daksnamurthy/
After my stint at ThePrint, I moved to Tamil Nadu, and took up the project to build the State’s first private university with a liberal-education model. I then moved to lead the content and brand communications with the Industries Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu. Here, I curated and edited the 70-page quarterly magazine, which was circulated to the top 3,000 global CXOs. Here, I was privileged to draft talking points for the Hon'ble Chief Minister on various occasions.
Outside my job, I pursued my writing with freelance projects. I was ghost writing for a member of India’s Parliament, and working with agencies like Make Waves London for Tamil to English subtitling for docuseries.
The CNA Insider docuseries, Race to feed the world was done keeping in mind the immense pressure on Asia's food security.
'The Longest Day' is a documentary on climate change - a snapshot of Asia today told through the voices of farmers, health workers, city residents, and displaced families.
Recently, I also translated a few chapters of a non-fiction book from Tamil to English, proposing a translation project with a publisher. I have come a long way from being just an enthusiast of Tamil literature to knowing the depths of the publishing industry.
With this degree, I will have the knowledge, skills, and resources to bring the best learnings from across the globe into Indian Vernacular Publishing.
The cost estimates
|Year 1 (12 months)||Year 2 (10 months)|
The total amount I am looking to raise is $68,185 inclusive of the payment gateway/platform charges, as per Milaap's estimate.
I was almost going to turn down my NYU offer, but I reminded myself that the only thing worse than a missed opportunity is not knowing. I have come to you seeking your compassion and help me prove that NYU is not out of my reach.
This is a dream that I’m fighting for by doing everything I can while using all the resources at my disposal. Any and all support from you would be greatly beneficial and appreciated.
Thank you so much for your time and generosity!
P.S. All contributors will receive periodic updates on the progress of my education at NYU, and of my subsequent contributions to the Publishing space.
What about loans, scholarships and personal savings?
While I cracked the Fulbright, I was also shortlisted to the subsequent interview rounds for Inlaks Scholarship and JN Tata Endowment loan scholarship (very few get to that level in the process). But somehow did not make it. My father is a retired Government employee who lives with his pension cannot afford to be a guarantor for such a huge loan amount. I have explored ways to make up for the deficit, but I haven't been fortunate on that end either. I have honestly run out of ways to fund my education and am looking to you for support.
What after the programme?
Immediately after my course completion, I would be returning to India and contributing to the vernacular publishing space, ideally by instituting a small publishing startup. I also envision to put in place residence programmes to nurture aspiring writers and translators, at some point.
In addition to that, as a Fulbright Scholar, I shall be going on a J1 visa (exchange visa) unlike the other international students going on F1 visa. Therefore, it is also a requirement for the J1 visa holder, for me to come back to India immediately after the course completion.