About the Author: Sumbul Mashhadi, a student of Jamia Milia Islamia, shares gripping details of her internship experience at Hindustan Times.
Hindustan Times is among the leading newspapers published by HT Media Ltd. The Hindustan Times office (Dehradun branch) which was established in May 2008 is a multi-storeyed building which has different floors for English and Hindi (Hindustan) publishing. I specifically worked under the supervision of Mr. Anupam Trivedi who is the Chief of Bureau at Hindustan Times (Dehradun). The second page of the Dehradun edition contains news exclusively from the city for which I contributed two stories during my internship period.
In the first week, I was introduced to the reporting and editing team. A short and crisp interview with the Branch Head was scheduled in order to decide which team they were going to put me in. I was introduced to different software such as InDesign, PagePlus, and QuarkXPress which were used by the editing team for the page design. Finally, I was put in the reporting team. In the next week, I brainstormed with other interns about the topic of the report. After some more discussions, I finalized my topic – “Plight of construction workers in Dehradun city.” Before I started working on my project, a session was organized with the Mr. Trivedi in which the ethics of on-field reporting were discussed. Mr. Nitin Basu (on field reporter) accompanied us on a field visit to Chakrata, Uttrakhand. Our assignment was to talk to as many people as possible in the rural areas of Chakrata and understand the problems they face. Finally, I was asked to report it and concentrate on my topic for the next week.
In the third week, I started visiting the slums of Dehradun to gather information about the influx of construction workers who migrate to Dehradun in search of work. I also approached the construction sites of private projects like Pacific Golf estate, Ambrosia, The Great India Place, etc. After this, I approached the government-led construction projects like the flyover building site, road construction, etc. I interviewed a number of construction workers and contractors which led me to the final topic of my report: “Dehradun cannot accommodate its builders.” I interviewed Mr. Anil Tyagi (Executive Engineer, MDDA) for the topic, and I must say he was very co- operative. While on an interview spree, I also interviewed Mr. Avdesh Kaushal who is the Director of a prospering NGO named RLEK (Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra). On Mr. Kaushal’s invitation, I planned a field visit to RLEK, where all the interns had a good learning about how effectively this NGO was working for the rights of the marginalized community. One of the interns made his final report on this organization itself.
As the fourth week started, I submitted the report on the construction workers and my supervisor made the required corrections. It was published on the online web page of Hindustan Times, Dehradun. I was asked to choose another topic for my second report since I was seeking exposure and learning in the reporting field only. Another day of research and brainstorming brought me to the decision that I wanted to do something on the Tibetan settlements in Dehradun. I visited almost all the Tibetan settlements of Dehradun. Then, I selected one named, Dekylin Tibetan Settlement at Sahastradhara road, Dehradun. The topic was – “FREE TIBET, a dream closer to Dekylin’s Heart.” The rapport building took a lot of time as the Tibetans didn’t open up to strangers easily. After a thorough process of trust building, the people finally started opening up. That was when I found Dolma Chodon who opened up to me. She told me stories which literally brought me to tears. She told how she had attended self-immolation ceremonies and has seen young kids die. Soon after this, I interviewed the Block Development officer of that area. Thus, that report was also completed and submitted. Nothing could be as fruitful for me as to how this particular report turned out to be.
My learnings from this internship –
Exposure to my own city:
I have lived in Dehradun all my life. Absolute poverty was a concept alien to me because I never saw slums in the city. Though the city is not very well planned but issues like pollution, inequality of income and wealth, illiteracy, poverty, etc. did not surround the city at all. It is now that I see slums coming up in the city. There are various urban slums settlements near the construction site. As they say, with development comes under development. The township project is causing a huge influx of migrant workers into the city. The illusion I had all along my childhood that Dehradun is the best to live in got broken when I saw such a huge divide in the income of the people. The report which I did gave me a much-needed insight into the real condition of the city.
In-depth knowledge of MDDA:
MDDA (Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority) was established in 1984 and since then it has been responsible for the planning and development of the city. The MDDA is responsible for the delayed construction of a flyover which is under construction for three years now. Due to the absolute ignorance of the unsolved issues related to this building flyover, the traffic of Dehradun is totally hampered and there are frequent traffic jams in the city. While interviewing the construction workers who work for the government, I came to know the various loopholes in the functioning of MDDA.
Grasping editing software:
The days I spent in the office were equally fruitful because I learned a range of software which would help me immensely in the future. Software like InDesign, QuarkXPress etc. are very useful for editing and graphic designing. For a person like me, who considers herself as technologically handicapped, this learning really boosted my confidence