A reflection of a foreign student
The 12th National Conference of Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) that was held in Hyderabad opened the door of opportunities for various perspectives in the sphere of Mass Media and Journalism for many young volunteer journalists. Having more than 300 members across the country, the NWMI is a 14 years old association that seeks to provide forum for women in media professions to share information and resources, exchange ideas, promote gender equality within the media as well as society. The Conference’s focus this year was on ” Gender and Media: Continuities and Discontinuities” on what has changed and not changed for women in media over the years. Participating in the three-day conference discussions on diverse issues such as tribes, media law and gender in media challenged me deeply. Of the several journalists gathered there, one of the brightest, intelligent and most outstanding journalist, who created an enormous impact on me, was Neha Dixit.
My initial impression about her was absolutely different. During my research about this reporter, I discovered her to be a risk taking, self-assured, motivated person and after my interview with her, I realized that at the same time she is modest, polite and kind. Finding two different personalities in one person astonished me.
Despite having grown up in Lucknow, and completing school there, she moved to Delhi to study English literature in Delhi University which seemed to me as an act of courage in her part. As a fact, it is not acceptable to the typical Indian family to send their daughter to study and live far from them. A master’s degree in Convergent Journalism directed her to choose the professional path of a journalist.
What I found most exceptional about Neha Dixit was the sheer breadth of her interest in developing issues such as gender equality, social justice, defending the rights of women, sexual violence, etc. She started her career after her graduation from Jamia Milia Islamia as an investigative journalist with Tehelka magazine. I realized that being the same gender and fighting for their rights of women was not a simple task for Neha. In order to show that women are as strong as men and have strong opinions on everything including the government, the media and others such as Neha are responsible for raising the volumes of those oppressed and downtrodden. As she said, ” If I have to write about women’s issues, it is necessary to understand that women’s issues also have to do with economics, politics and social justice. I think, it may be tough in the beginning, but becomes more and more important eventually as you end up producing your article or journalistic piece. Make the world understand that it can’t keep underestimating you.”
Since 2013, Neha Has been working as an independent journalist writing for the New York Times, Al- Jazeera, Outlook magazine, Foreign Policy, Caravan, Himal South Asia and several other national and international publications. I also got deep impression from her description of the resistance of people to fight injustice, stressing that it is far greater than anything else; that resistance is their strength and power. That is what keeps people going, including herself. That’s why reporters should continue to keep reporting, she says , because eventually , people are also resisting the same injustice that journalists are trying to fight through their writings and reports. The unfailing resistance of people for their rights constantly motivated and pushed her to produce great articles over the years, she said. The stories ” Lost children of the Prophet”, “Operation baby lift”, “Shadow lines” which are landmark achievements in her career, have received a widespread acclaim, with PII-ICRC Award, UNFPA – Laadii Media Award and others. A remarkable number of her reports are evidence of her unstoppable struggle against sexual harassment, gender inequality, women’s rights and social justice. It is essential to note that, the number of awards she has received every single year are the proof of her hard work and her commitment to the nation and humanity.
I think that in future this self-motivated, far-sighted, driven person, Neha will continue to set up justice in the community with her stories and reach better destinations. When I asked her for her advice to young journalists, she said, “Always learn to enjoy the work you are doing. And never lose hope, never become cynical, negative or pessimistic. Because a lot of people only survive on the hope that things will get better for them.”
I believe that India should be proud of possessing such a courageous and ambitious journalist, who always keeps challenging herself, and at the same time keeps challenging others around her. As for me, a fresh volunteer journalist who came to study in India, the first interview I did was with Neha Dixit- an experience which not only showed me the initial steps to my future job, but also awakened an understanding of the real essence of our job.
I am very grateful to the Department of Communication and Journalism, Osmania University for giving me the privilege and opportunity to interview the strong, self-confident and promising reporter Neha Dixit, for she is a reporter who managed to entirely change the conceptions of one common foreign student.