Thank you for taking the time to read about me. I am almost completing the first semester of my program focusing on areas of transnational media flows and digital media theory. I am specifically focusing on how technology and media can be used in different socio-economic settings, especially evaluating technological fit for issues like education, health, and access in developing countries like India. I am also helping the UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited initiative in India with the content in their youth programs which focuses on providing 21st Century skills to the young in India.
Right now I am young, creative, hands-on, and working at scale with an indomitable spirit of getting things done to make the world incrementally better than yesterday. My ability to get things done comes from the diverse experience that I have gathered in the last seven years. At 28, I have already worked across digital media activism, technology for development, communication research, and design thinking in bilateral non-profit organizations leading the communication teams for various programs in education, health, and livelihoods
I come from humble beginnings – my grandmother was illiterate; my grandfather was a factory worker and my father had to work on wage jobs after school to pay for his tuition during his teenage years. He made the right choice at the right time of learning computers with the help of a mentor in the 1980s, which pulled him and the family out of poverty. Fortunately, during his struggles, he understood the importance of education and sent me and my brother to the best schools possible.
I started my professional journey with one of the largest NGOs in India. My extensive travel to rural India in far-flung areas brought me closer to the grassroots realities of our society. I found myself working with communities, who had never used electricity in their village and the mortality rate of babies is so high that their infant mortality is considered part of destiny. This exposure influenced who I wanted to become and what I wanted to accomplish.
Communication as a skill comes intrinsically to me and I have spent time building my capacity to harness this skill in the development sector working in the area of education of the marginalized. We are more connected than ever before, but that’s not the case for thousands of public-school teachers in India. Lack of internet connectivity in rural areas holds teachers back in delivering quality education and building their capacity, making rote learning the only option for children.
To make a small difference, I designed and executed an offline, multilingual mobile application for these teachers which helps them with new content and methodologies of classroom learning and enables interaction with other teachers to share new ideas and innovation. I am excited to share that this application is being used by over 200,000 teachers in India.
As a communication and advocacy specialist, I have also used my experience on the ground to influence various stakeholders at the policy level towards the cause of education with the help of media, social media, collaterals, and documents. I have held workshops for students in the Delhi School of Economics and the Indian Institute of Mass communication to share my learnings from the field and present data for learning levels.
I also worked with the professors of Harvard Business School to document two case studies on ‘Transforming primary education through Innovation’.
It is increasingly important to create effective and regular content to meet the development needs of our complex society. India is among the two largest and fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world. Even populations with low media penetration are now online, on affordable smartphones and cheap data plans.
Engagement with content has skyrocketed but simultaneously, India has also become the largest producer of misinformation. It is not to say that Indians are not looking for knowledge or accurate information for issues that affect them, online.
I intend to fill this gap by working with government and non-government grassroots organizations which work at a massive scale in India but rely on traditional means of communication and lack skills in effective content creation. Effective and targeted communication campaigns and strategies for these organizations will help them improve education content that goes out to tens of thousands of teachers and tens of millions of students.
My expertise lies in translating knowledge into engaging communication outputs, and my decision to apply for this program at NYU originated from this passion. I aim to gain skills that help me work on linkages between a theoretical understanding of media and communication and its practical application at scale in India.
How can you help?
Due to the pandemic, many financial institutions have not offered scholarships and funding for applicants like me. I am planning to fund my tuition fees through partial loans and living expenses through part-time jobs. But due to the high amount of tuition fees, I need your help to continue my degree program.
I want to make a humble request to all of you to contribute graciously within your capacity and share the words with your friends and family. For any more information, you can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org