shikhartalwar
12th October 2022

A month in Delhi re-taught me why I wanted to be a journalist

A summer internship turns into a privilege check in the face of protestors and poverty, sparking new life in a young journalist
A month in Delhi re-taught me why I wanted to be a journalist
Protestors being surrounded by the Police in Delhi (Photo @Shikhar Talwar)

As the title suggests, I spent a month in Delhi. Not for seasonal work or a vacation, but interning there with a national newspaper. Though I was just in the regional section of the newspaper and wrote maybe ten-odd articles, the time there made me realise why I wanted to be a journalist.

For those who know me, know that I am unapologetically a kid from Mumbai. I grew up there, learnt everything there, and figured out what I wanted to do there. My life and surroundings in Mumbai guided me to the area of history and politics that I still aspire to keep learning. Furthermore, once I knew that this was the field I want to be in, I moved towards journalism and writing for The Mancunion.

I have loved my time here, and hopefully, the rest of this year keeps me going at the same rate. However, being solely the news editor last year, constantly talking about buses and bins, I started losing the reason why I wanted to be a journalist. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like doing the news. My position in Manchester Media Group (MMG) is still dominated by the news. Furthermore, in case anyone thinks that I am ungrateful for this position, I am still in awe I have made it here.

Despite being more or less content with the articles that I ended up writing, I didn’t want to write all of them. But this has changed now.

Over the summer, I was in New Delhi, the city I was born in. Interning in a national newspaper. On the first day, I was asked what I wanted to do there. What side of news journalism would I like to focus on? I stumbled because I had not thought of the answer to that in a while. I eventually pointed to the form I was most comfortable with, i.e. protest.

By the second day, I was in for a shock. I was asked to cover a protest, and on arrival was swarmed by protestors and subsequently police. Once asked to protest elsewhere, the protestors agreed. It turns out  ‘elsewhere’ was one of the busiest parts of Delhi. But upon arriving at that location, they protested behind police barriers where nobody from outside could exactly hear them, essentially nulling the effect of a protest.

This seemed commonplace to the protestors. It was common to me a while back. But, I had forgotten about this. Talking about this is what got me interested in politics and journalism.

This brings me to this article. I haven’t explicitly stated what I want to do in journalism. Honestly, I’m still not sure. Not the best answer in case a future employer is reading this (in which case hi! I would like a job. Thank you!).

I’m disappointed by the privilege I hold – I really am. Not in a self-righteous way, or a self-victimising way. In a way that makes me accept that, if I am so privileged, then there are people at the opposite end of the spectrum who don’t get anywhere close to having the comfort in life that I do.

This idea I continued into the rest of my internship in Delhi. In that month, my only by-line was a story on how the Delhi government was erecting public schools in the middle of slums and making them free of cost, along with helping people with basic needs. The reason I wanted to do this article is an experience I had two weeks before the said article was published.

They were inaugurating another such school and I was sent to cover the story. So I did: I made my way to the place, caught people’s voices and the whole inauguration festivity. But once that was over, I got out of the slum and went to the market where I saw a Starbucks. Without thinking twice I went in, ordered my coffee and began writing the article. I was blind to the privilege that I held at that moment.

Until two kids who were selling balloons, maybe around the age of ten, came towards the Starbucks. Their colourful balloons waving in front of me caught my eye as I looked up. They noticed me looking and came towards the window, but before even offering balloons, they saw the innumerable stickers on my laptop. They got excited about it and started calling their friends. But, the guard outside Starbucks shouted at them to go away.

That whole situation seems so unfair. It is easy to overlook it and think nothing when inside an air-conditioned café. But on the other side, it must feel much different.

That moment re-taught me what I wanted to do in journalism. I want to do my best to ensure that this fact doesn’t stay a reality. Again, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that hard work should not be appreciated. I am sure everyone reading this is working as hard as possible, to get to where they want to be. I’m saying that maybe hard work should be the only thing that pays off, not your parent’s class, race, religion, caste, gender, sexuality, or anything else.


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