From covering pain of rural people in Chattisgarh, to suffering of Cooper workers of Zambia and sufferings of Gold workers in Zimbabwe Ankita Anand is a journalist of global repute.
She has been a recipient of the prestigious European Commission’s Lorenzo Natali Media Prize, the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting, and the UNFPA-Laadli Media .
In an exclusive interview with The Legitimate, she talks to Rameez Makhdoomi.
Tell us a bit about your early days?
I was raised by my lovely Grandparents. My Grandfather was a Judge, so I had to travel to lot of Places often due to his transfers especially in Bihar and Jharkhand. Finally, we settled in Ranchi Jaharkhand.
What was academic life like?
My teachers from school to higher level were overall quite awesome and caring. Also, I was not forced by family or teachers to take up Science or Commerce which was the trend, my interest was in languages. I did my post-Graduation in English Literature.
I am grateful to my grandfather too who used to teach me in evenings despite his hectic schedule and all my teachers.
How did you discover writing is your cup of tea?
I had verbalized a poem at a very early age as told by my elders. It was actually in class 6th that our English teacher gave us an assignment to write a poem on the environment, and once I wrote it, the same was praised a lot. I am especially thankful to all my English teachers as I have found them aware in all fields and honing my skills.
A bit about your first major story published?
My first major published story was in the year 2014 in the Magazine Equator line. It was on the pain and suffering of the African community in India. My editor, ace Journalist Bhaskar Roy, was really cooperative and I could do it despite not being accustomed to the Newsroom atmosphere and having a professional Journalism Degree.
Your investigation-based writings have been very successful, how did interest develop in that?
I have been curious since childhood. I used as a child out of acute curiosity to drop vitamin tablets in flower pots so that they would grow swiftly. In 2014 when the new Government came there began a lot of polarization in society and people stopped even talking to one another. I also thought that Journalism is a lot about listening rather than speaking. All this shaped in me traits to go for investigation traits as a Journalist.
What motivated you to do rural reporting especially from Chhattisgarh?
Chattisgarh people are very much rooted to their culture and ancestors especially in rural areas. All these things motivated me to write on their issues and problems.
A bit about the Unbias news ?
It is a concept born out of need to give much needed diversity to the media and news. It is a media organization based in Germany with focus also to cover Global South. We are also trying to do away with the western white male dominated world view on news. We are quite feminist based Newsroom. We want to give voice to marginalised communities and those facing discrimination.
Feminism is sometimes blamed for turning into men hating concept or reducing all man are evil. Your take on this?
The need to restore the balance in this regard lies with men to assure women they are not threatened, as history and statistics show how much discrimination and crimes women face. Feminism in itself is justice based and balance restoring concept.
A bit about the role of street theatre, which you have spoken and written a lot about?
Street theatre is an empowering institution especially when it comes to highlighting the burning issues of society in a nuanced manner. It does not take anyone as audience or actor but let’s everyone speak of his suffering or vision.
A bit about the prestigious Lorenzo Natali Media Prize, the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting you bagged?
Firstly, this recognition I got for my Story on Khap Panchayats. I got connected to the grassroot of this story from Anuradha Beniwal, eminent sports person and author from Haryana, his father got me connected to many. I had to assure my ground zero interviewing persons that I am coming to file the story with a blank slate in mind rather than having preconceived notions which they otherwise feared many journalists have on this issue. Having wider perspectives made this story shine in a much better manner.
My message to young writers is always be good listeners and never have preconceived notions while filing a story. Take your own time despite this being an era of deadlines. Be humble and rooted to the ground.