The Center for International Studies (CIS) announced recently that Priyanka Borpujari, an independent journalist based in Mumbai, India, has been selected as the 2012-13 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow. Borpujari is the eighth recipient of the annual fellowship, which gives a woman journalist working in print, broadcast or online media the opportunity to build skills while focusing exclusively on human rights journalism and social justice issues. The award is offered through the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and is sponsored in part by the Center for International Studies at MIT.
Borpujari will spend the seven-month fellowship as a research associate at CIS. She will also complete internships at The Boston Globe and The New York Times. During this time, Borpujari hopes to explore topics such as malnutrition, hunger, displacement and violence, especially in light of India's surging gross domestic product. She would like to "return home to report … in a better, stronger way, which would hopefully have an impact on policies, or at least in the way we perceive development."
"I am excited about my time as an IWMF Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow," Borpujari said, "as it will sharpen my journalistic skills which would go a long way in my attempt to uncover the many ignored realities of India."
Borpujari, 27, has worked as a reporter for six years for publications including Mumbai Mirror, The Asian Age and exchange4media.com. Since launching her freelance career three years ago, she has focused on the plight of indigenous groups that are being systematically displaced from their land.
Borpujari reported on the ways in which indigenous populations in the state of Chhattisgarh were being caught in a war between a government keen on displacing them to make way for mines and factories, and armed Maoists. Her reports brought focus to what she describes as "deprived, malnourished, burning India," even as false police charges were levied against her in an attempt to keep her away from reporting in the region. She says she has "attempted to uncover the gory hidden civilian war for resources in India, which is often ignored by the mainstream media, in its rush to portray a shining, emerging economy."
"We are honored to have Priyanka with us. Her work as a human rights journalist is informative and admirable. We hope her time in an academic setting adds to the achievement of her noble goals," said Richard Samuels, director of the Center for International Studies and Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT.
The fellowship is named for Elizabeth Neuffer, a Boston Globe reporter and the winner of a 1998 IWMF Courage in Journalism Award who was killed while on assignment in Iraq in 2003. Neuffer's life mission was to promote international understanding of human rights and social justice. For further information about the fellowship, visit www.iwmf.org/neuffer.
The Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship is a project of the Elizabeth Neuffer IWMF Fund, which is generously supported by Peter Canellos, Mark Neuffer, Carolyn Lee, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Boston Globe Foundation, The New York Times Company Foundation, Boston Scientific, MIT Center for International Studies and friends and family of Elizabeth Neuffer.