Pragyan Srivastava
. India . joined February, 2022

Pragyan Srivastava


‘Mumma! Where is my cycle? I’ve to go meet Archy!’ My mother couldn’t hold her tears back, ‘Your father took it away… we will buy a new one’ We would see things, and money, disappearing from our house, as my father would struggle with gambling addiction and psychological disorders. Patriarchy ran deep in the veins of small town north-India. My mother single handedly raised me, while managing her marriage with a husband who was barely present. Seeing her steely resolve for us inspired me to embrace and excel in every opportunity I could. Participating in debates, writing competitions and extempores, I realized my love for storytelling early-on. Citizen journalism was on the rise and every morning I’d eagerly read the columns by active citizens highlighting social injustices. Inspired, I also sent information about water-power irregularities in my neighborhood. It got published, and local authorities promptly took corrective action - I felt empowered! This passion for storytelling with real life impact led me to pursue an undergraduate course in Electronic Media from Makhanlal-Chaturvedi-University, Madhya-Pradesh. For a production course, I decided to cover Chikankari-embroidery - a prestigious Mughal-era art form Traveling extensively in the hinterlands for shooting this documentary, I experienced the diminishing social status and economic difficulties of the artisans. Moved by their struggles, I took their case to the state’s culture department, which promised to establish a welfare-fund. Such experiences, combined with studies, deepened my resolve that my true calling was at the intersection of culture, travel and ground-reporting. To broaden my horizons, I decided to pursue a postgraduate-diploma at Indian-Institute-of-Mass-Communication (IIMC). The experience was life-changing since it gave me a global perspective on journalism through international students and professors. I got a much closer look at the ‘real world’ of media, and my studies culminated in an opportunity to join the team of News18India. News18India was an excellent launchpad - working alongside industry veterans, I got ample opportunities to do impactful work. For Independence day special, I covered a story on forced prostitution in a migrant community in Delhi. Spending many days on the field, talking to various stakeholders from victims to bureaucrats, and working with colleagues from production head to editor made me understand the efforts behind and nuances of producing excellent stories. The story catalyzed a lot of media attention and relief work towards the issue. Receiving appreciation from the management as ‘Star of the Month’ validated my belief in socially relevant ground reporting. After a productive stint of 1.5 years, I decided to join an exciting, rapidly growing new media startup, The Lallantop (TLT), being among the first ten employees. Adapting to the audience’s preference of colloquial style of reporting to create dozens of stories for a burgeoning web based platform was tough. But seeing our YoY viewership jump 250% from ~1M to 3.5M+ was deeply fulfilling. In the process, the infectious entrepreneurial bug bit me. My passion for ground reporting, culture based impactful storytelling, and travel helped crystallize the idea of creating a platform aimed at covering undiscovered stories from all 36 states of India - stories which would help Indians reimagine their identities. Emboldened by the validation from the Founder of TLT, I finally took the plunge to build ‘Chalat-Musafir’. To curate authentic stories, I decided to do my own ‘Discovery of India’, following the footsteps of one of the makers of modern India, Prime Minister Nehru. My experiences have been beyond words - of the innumerable fascinating stories, I’d highlight just one that encapsulates the essence. During a trip to the pious, mystic himalayan state of Uttarakhand, we heard about a ‘ghost village’, Kuthalgate. Curious, we decided to visit the place, only to find an 84-year-old surgeon, Yogi Aeron, who, for 35 years, had been providing free surgeries to the people forsaken by the society. If not for his philanthropic motives, he could have earned a fortune through his tens-of-thousands of surgeries, some of which were referred to him even from the state capital’s hospitals. We did an exclusive story on Yogi, and deeply inspired by his work, recommended him for ‘Padma Shri’, the fourth highest civilian award of India. The story went viral, garnering much interest and support for his work. But what made us really proud was him getting a well deserved Padma Shree award a year later! Chalat Musafir is now 4 years old, with a dedicated following of 100K+, and 1M+ of views on our 1000+ multimedia stories, covering among others unheard stories of Manganiyaar-musician of Rajasthan, Soldier-teachers of Naxalite-areas and Monpa-tribes of Arunachal. In the process, I have found my career vision - there are thousands of Yogi Aeron who, working across divisions of castes, tribes and ethnicities, represent an idea of India rooted in empathy, shared heritage and service. In the long term, I want to build a media house that catalyzes a renewed discovery of self and of India through such stories, as an antidote to identity crisis and majoritarian fundamentalism which plagues not just India, but every major democracy in the world.

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    • City :
    • Delhi

    • State :
    • Delhi

    • Category :
    • Editor

    • Email ID:

    • Profession:
    • Travel Content Expert

    • Education
    • MA Mass Communication

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