I have done my MA in English Literature and French from the University of Mumbai. After that, I worked as a journalist from 1984 onwards with diverse publications such as Bombay magazine, United News of India, Mid-day Publications, The Times of India and The Hindu. My work has a journalist has included reporting current events, politics, public health, human rights, communal violence, peoples’ movements and development issues. I have focused mainly on environment and development though my interests are varied. Since 2015, I have quit The Hindu and am an independent journalist and freelance editor. I write for the Economic and Political Weekly, scroll.in, mongabay.com, and am a columnist at First Post. I have contributed to Newsclick, NDTV.com, Deccan Herald, The Wire and Scroll and I am on the faculty of Xavier Institute of Communication, and St Paul’s, Mumbai, mentoring research students since 2015 and teaching a module on Principles and Practices of Journalism.
My research interests include communal violence and its politics, agriculture, the agrarian crisis in India and farm suicides, biodiversity, climate change and sustainability, apart from human rights, public health and development issues. I have researched the communal violence in Bombay/Mumbai in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992, and my book includes archival material on riots in Bombay city from the 19th century onwards. My interest in cotton and its history led to the book A Frayed History, co-authored with Uzramma which traces the story of desi cottons in India from ancient times to the present in all its complexity. I am interested in politics and culture in general, and my book on Pakistan is based on reportage for The Hindu, as its correspondent in Islamabad.
A Frayed History - The Journey of Cotton in India, co-authored with Uzramma- a historical to contemporary account of cotton focusing on its history, weaving and cultivation, the agrarian crisis, farm suicides and transgenic cotton. Oxford University Press. October 2017.
Reporting Pakistan, on my nine- month stint as Pakistan correspondent for The Hindu. Penguin Randomhouse. May 2017.
Riots and After in Mumbai, Chronicles of Truth and Reconciliation, on the aftermath of the communal riots in the city after the Babri masjid demolition, plus a history of riots in the 19th and 20th centuries in Bombay city, based on archival research, Sage 2012. Updated paperback edition, November 2017.
Organic Cotton-Reinventing the Wheel, From August 2002-September 2003, I researched a report on Organic cotton which is a compilation and analysis of cotton in India and the crisis of farmers who are faced with mounting debts. The study was published in 2004 by Deccan Development Society and Kalpavriksh.
The Unseen Worker- On the Trail of the Girl Child, 1998 Books for Change. In November, 1996, as part of a media research fellowship from the National Foundation for India, New Delhi I researched and wrote on prostitution and the trafficking of women. Some of the 13 articles, many of which were published in The Hindu Sunday Magazine were featured in this co-authored book.
“The Grass is Greener This Side” in The Green Pen, Environment Journalism in India and South Asia edited by Keya Acharya and Frederick Noronha Sage 2010.
“All Smoke and No Play” in Dharavi, The City Within edited by Joseph Campana HarperCollins Publishers India 2013.
28th Smt Nabadurga Banerji Endowment Lecture at the Asiatic Society of Mumbai on December 8, 2017 on The Journey of Cotton in India: A Historical Account.
Distinguished Public Policy lecture series on Pakistan, with Tridivesh Singh Maini at the National Law School, Bengaluru, December 2018
Member of the Bombay Natural History Society and the Asiatic Society. My interests include cinema, music, reading, photography, travel and trekking.
Other than reporting, I have been part of writing fact-finding reports on issues such as “sati”, Dalit atrocities, and development and have been awarded several media research fellowships to research a wide range of subjects and was awarded the Rotary Club of Bombay North fellowship for Environmental Journalism in 1996. In 1993, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi, media fellowship helped me write a detailed report on the water situation in Kutch district and the efforts of an NGO in regenerating ground water and helping farmers become self-reliant. An abstract of the report was carried in the magazine “Down to Earth”. The Panos Institute, London, awarded me a fellowship on the theme “Water”. This allowed me to travel in and around Maharashtra state and study the problems of sugarcane cultivation with relation to drought, apart from new irrigation techniques and watershed management. These reports were published in The Times of India, apart from a magazine called “Panoscope”, London. In February, 1999, a fellowship from the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, to study the watershed management and education guarantee schemes in Madhya Pradesh resulted in several feature articles which were published in The Hindu Sunday Magazine and Businessline.From March, 1999 -October, 1999, a media research fellowship from the National Tree Growers Cooperative Federation, Anand, on development issues in Orissa funded by travel in Orissa. As part of the fellowship, I wrote 12 articles, which appeared in The Hindu Sunday Magazine, The Statesman, Indian Express and other publications. I was also part of a journalists’ programme organised by the Forum of Environmental Journalists, which looked at inter- country water disputes in Nepal, Bangladesh and India in 1999. In July- September, 2000, I researched two reports on post- cyclone interventions for women after the Odisha cyclone. One of the studies analysed microcredit schemes and their impact on cyclone- affected communities, while the other one was on the situation of women after the cyclone. The reports were presented at an international seminar on Disaster Management at Bhubaneshwar in 2000. In June, 2001, a media fellowship on the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), from the ministry of environment, funded research for some articles I wrote, which were published in Indian Express, Deccan Chronicle, The Statesman and The Hindu.
In September, 2001, I was part of a five-member team from Southern countries to analyse sustainable development in Germany, in view of the Rio plus ten meeting in Johannesburg in 2002. The programme, sponsored by the Heinrich Boell Foundation, and the German government, continued in April 2002, as well. The Foundation published a report titled “Sustainable Germany-A View from the South, Ten years after Rio” which was released in June 2002 in Berlin, Johannesburg and other cities. I took part in a two-week training programme in development communication in October 2003 in Washington D C and New York by Vital Voices, a global communication network, in collaboration with Georgetown University. From February 2007- December 2007, I received an independent fellowship to study communal polarisation in Mumbai after the communal riots of 1992-93 from SARAI-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), and study the aftermath of the communal riots of 1992-93 in Mumbai city. This provided the material for the book Riots and after in Mumbai.
- MA English and French, University of Bombay
- B A in English Literature, St Xavier's College, Mumbai