Page 1



PRESIDENT'S NOTE Dear SAJA Family, In a particularly cold February of 1994, four people came together, at a restaurant in New York, to form what would be known as the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA). It was a time of scant South Asian diasporic presence in the American media. Now, it’s 2019, the weather hasn’t yet turned for the winter, and, today, over 100 of us have assembled here to celebrate 25 years of SAJA. As SAJA’s President in its 25th year, it marvels me how a completely volunteer led organization has sustained itself for a quarter of a century. From a few rare ‘brown bylines’ to a considerable standing in today’s media landscape, it wouldn’t be an overstretch to say that SAJA also has had a role in this transformation. Whether that is by promoting fellowships, giving out scholarships, or just by creating a sense of comfort in a community. This year, I have been speaking to SAJA members and supporters about what makes them come back to SAJA. For old time members, it’s the emotion of paying it forward; for newer members, it’s to find strength in numbers; for students, it’s avenues for mentorship and jobs in these volatile times. There is an organic synergy between what our members want and what they provide to each other. The diversity buzzword has also brought the biggest news organizations to SAJA, and we’ve begun collaborating with them, as well as with trade associations, to ensure South Asian journalists get the skills and recognition to succeed. Over the past 25 years, we have given out $600,000 in grants and fellowships, awarded hundreds of journalists for their outstanding contribution to journalism, and cultivated a culture of promoting South Asian journalists. Now, as we get together under these chandeliers shining bright on the best South Asian journalistic talent in America, we’re also asking ourselves where do we go next? We have to build next-gen leaders in newsrooms and managements that see the world through varied lenses. We must work harder to bring diversity within SAJA’s ranks inviting greater representation from all journalists of all South Asian backgrounds, ethnicities and genders. Finally, SAJA must endeavor to include all South Asian journalists and those interested in covering South Asia to form a collective force in American journalism. I hope you enjoy the evening and I look forward to having everyone here becoming a SAJA member, if you aren’t, already. Always love to hear from you, so feel free to write to me at Happy 25th, y’all! Best, Prerana Thakurdesai President, SAJA

EVENT PROGRAM WELCOME - Sopan Deb, Master of Ceremonies

7:00 PM

REMARKSÂ - Alok Gaur, SAJA Supporter TOAST - Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor-in-chief, The Atlantic SAJA OVER THE YEARS

A panel of SAJA board members promising a trip down memory lane

7:15 PM


Co-founder, SAJA & Inaugural Marshall R. Loeb Visiting Professor of Digital Innovation at Stony Brook University School of Journalism


Director, Career Development & Alumni Relations, Columbia University & a former SAJA President


Senior Staff Editor, NYT & former SAJA VP


Producer, CBS & former SAJA President


Business & Economics editor, NYT & former SAJA President

Moderator: Prerana Thakurdesai

Filmmaker and SAJA President


7:45 PM

Keynote Panel

8:10 PM


9:15 PM

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS AMITAVA KUMAR is the author of several works of nonfiction and two novels. Kumar’s most recent novel is Immigrant, Montana, included in the list of most “notable books of the year” at the New York Times and also the “best books of the year” at The New Yorker. (Former President Barack Obama also named Immigrant, Montana among his favorite books of the year.) In Spring 2020, Duke University Press will publish Kumar’s book on writing and style, Every Day I Write the Book. In 2016, Kumar was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for nonfiction and also a Ford Fellowship from US Artists. His writing has been published in Granta, Harper’s, The New Yorker, the Guardian, Brick, Vanity Fair, and the New York Times. Kumar has been awarded residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, the Lannan Foundation, the Norman Mailer Writing Colony, and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy. He is the Helen D. Lockwood Professor of English at Vassar College. @amitavakumar

Mira Jacob is the author and illustrator of Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations. Her critically acclaimed novel, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, was a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers pick, shortlisted for India’s Tata First Literature Award, and longlisted for the Brooklyn Literary Eagles Prize. It was named one of the best books of 2014 by Kirkus Reviews, the Boston Globe, Goodreads, Bustle, and The Millions. Her writing and drawings have appeared in The New York Times, Electric Literature, Tin House, Literary Hub, Guernica, Vogue, the Telegraph, and Buzzfeed, and she has a drawn column on Shondaland. She currently teaches at The New School, and she is a founding faculty member of the MFA Program at Randolph College. @MIRAJACOB

Dr. Neeraj Kaushal is an economist and journalist by training, and an expert on comparative immigration policy and the author of a new book on this topic, Blaming Immigrants. She is professor of Social Policy and chair of the doctoral program at Columbia School of Social Work. In Blaming Immigrants: Nationalism and the Economics of Global Movement she investigates the core causes of rising disaffection towards immigrants globally and tests common complaints against immigration. She has authored or co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed scientific articles and book chapters on immigrants and other vulnerable populations. She writes a monthly column in the Economic Times, India’s largest financial daily.

Suketu Mehta is the New York-based author of This Land is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto (2019) and Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found (2005), which won the Kiriyama Prize and the Hutch Crossword Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the Lettre Ulysses Prize, the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. He has won the O. Henry Prize, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for his fiction, a Whiting Award in Fiction and Nonfiction, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has also written original screenplays for films, including New York, I Love You (2008) and Mission Kashmir (2000). His work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Granta, Harper’s, Time, and Newsweek, and has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air and All Things Considered. He is an Associate Professor of Journalism at New York University. @suketumehta

SAJA AWARDS FINALISTS The Daniel Pearl Award for outstanding reporting about South Asia Ari Alstedter The Billionaires and the Guru Bloomberg Sophia Jone The Many Dangers of Being an Afghan Woman in Uniform The New York Times Annie Gowen The rise of Hindu nationalism in Modi's India (series of stories) The Washington Post Outstanding enterprise reporting about South Asia or the worldwide South Asian diaspora Sarita Santoshini India's Hill Country is the First Stop on Heroin's Deadly Route Foreign Policy Apoorva Mandavilli The World’s Worst Industrial Disaster Is Still Unfolding The Atlantic Sonia Paul The children of H-1B visa holders are growing up — and still waiting for green cards PRI's The World

Outstanding business story about South Asia, or the worldwide South Asian diaspora Ananya Bhattacharya Blockchain is helping build a new Indian city, but it’s no cure for corruption Quartz India Ambreen Ali At the Wheel: Women Drive Pakistan's Ride-Sharing Industry Makepeace Sitlhou Sweet or Salty: Could Black Rice Become Manipur’s Quinoa? Popula Outstanding arts, culture, and lifestyle reporting about South Asia, or the worldwide South Asian diaspora Sarah Khan Surface: Force of Nature Surface Bhavya Dore This Boy From Mumbai Became the World’s Unlikeliest Crossword King Narratively Annalisa Merelli How a school for poor girls cracked the patriarchy in a rural Indian town Quartz India

SAJA AWARDS FINALISTS Outstanding piece of non-fiction writing about South Asia, or the worldwide South Asians diaspora Amar Shah To many Indian Americans, Apu is offensive. To me, he’s my dad. The Washington Post Shaheen Pasha Searching for the Woman Who Saved My Immigrant Family from Homelessness Narratively Archana Chaudhary, Jeanette Rodrigues How to Lose $3.2 Billion of Bitcoin From India to Texas Bloomberg

Outstanding multimedia story about South Asia, or the worldwide South Asian diaspora Anjali Kamat The Many Red Flags of Trump’s Partners in India Type Investigations + Trump Inc. (a podcast from WNYC and ProPublica) Leena Sanzgiri The Prayer NPR WAMU 88.5 Habiba Nosheen, Shanifa Nasser Canada's Muslim Adoption Ban Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC)

Outstanding enterprise reporting about South Asia or the worldwide South Asian diaspora Anjali Enjeti The Reckoning with Georgia's Increasing Suppression of Asian American Voters Longreads Aditi Malhotra Support family or go to school? Rohingya refugee teen juggles competing demands PBS Newshour Sonia Paul When Caste Discrimination Comes to the United States NPR Codeswitch

SAJA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE PRESIDENT Prerana Thakurdesai VICE PRESIDENT Zainab Imam TREASURER John Laxmi SECRETARY Nina Sen AT-LARGE OFFICER Sameepa Shetty GENERAL BOARD MEMBERS: Ali Rizvi Mihir Zaveri Swati Sharma Priya Arora Sovy Azhath ADVISER Anusha Shrivastava


Profile for sree sreenivasan

SAJA@25 Gala & Awards Program 2019  

South Asian Journalists Association 25th Anniversary celebrations

SAJA@25 Gala & Awards Program 2019  

South Asian Journalists Association 25th Anniversary celebrations

Profile for sreenet