Mohua Das

Senior Assistant Editor at The Times of India, Mumbai | Formerly with The Telegraph, Calcutta 

Couldn’t believe what the newspapers said and so I became a journalist! It's been 15 years since and what a life-coach it's been as I wake up to it’s power and value, every morning. A good story isn't always about the president or popstar but everyday people and places with compelling tales. Those are the stories I hope to tell... and find the extraordinary in the ordinary!

Tribal influencers fight everything from Covid to child labour with cellphones

The art of showcasing talent online and influencing audiences is a common phenomenon now. But Arjun Pawara is not your typical Internet star. The 32-year-old is a founding member of Aadiwasi Janjagruti — a network of 45 tribal youths across 200 villages in the interiors of Maharashtra ’s Nandurbar district — using just their mobile phones and the power of hyperlocal news to script, enact, shoot, edit and upload sketches, short films and documentaries that enable a two-way flow of information between communities and local authorities.

Pandemic illuminates need to bridge digital divide, give access to disabled

Before the virus came along, Ninad Pawar (25)—living with severe visual impairment since birth—would spend three days a week at his favourite haunt, the National Association for the Blind at Worli Seaface where he would browse braille and talking books , check job resources and practise Excel and Powerpoint at the computer lab. The overnight shift to an all-virtual mode during the pandemic tossed out Pawar’s routine and along with that a safe space for a young person with a disability.

I am always going to speak up, even if I feel terrified inside: Disha Ravi

Perched outside her house in north Bengaluru, climate activist Disha Ravi is suddenly aware of just how many birds her neighbourhood has. “Their chirping gives me great pleasure. I enjoy watching mundane activities, there’s comfort and joy in that,” she says. Her world wasn’t as tranquil just four months ago when she was whisked away by a posse of police officers, slapped with charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy for editing and sharing a social media toolkit in support of the farmers’ movement.

Netas go on pre-poll ribbon cutting spree at jab centres

Wielding a pair of scissors, an MP from the city is in the middle of a weeklong jaunt across vaccine centres. One morning at Kurla, the next day in Vile Parle and the day after, in Chandivali congratulating the “corporator & all party karyakartas working hard to help people.” All the while, trailed by an army of aides, a photographer to capture the moments and an audience of vaccine aspirants queued up. There will be relief. But first, let there be a ribbon to cut.

Covid leaving kids orphaned, but viral adoption pleas are illegal

In the midst of cries for oxygen and emergency drugs on social media, a desperate appeal that stopped people in their thumb scrolling tracks a fortnight ago was a message urging families to adopt two girls—one aged three days and another six months—with the claim that they had lost their parents to Covid. “Please help these kids get a new life, spread the word,” urged the post that quickly went viral.

India’s first openly gay actor to win a national award on his journey from insults to stardom

The voice on the other end is rapturous. Not without reason. Benjamin Daimary ’s afternoon nap had been just interrupted by a phone call telling him that his role in the Assamese film Jonaki Porua (Fireflies) had won him the jury’s special mention at this year’s National Awards for acting. “I was like, ‘What! Me? Why me?’ when Prakash-da ( Prakash Deka , director of Jonaki Porua) called. So I googled to confirm,” he says, all dressed up for his interview.

In Bollywood, women get screen time but very little talk time

The year 2020 wrapped up what you might call a good decade for women in Bollywood with many steely, witty, sharp, cute, fun and badass female characters in leading roles. It felt like the narrative was changing, and women had become more than accessories. However, research tracking speaking parts in the world’s biggest movie-making industry reveals that in the biggest pan-national box-office hits from the past five years — on an average, “women have less than a third of the dialogue". In other words, men significantly out-talk the women.

Covid funding hits other causes hard, NGOs struggle for funds

For a sector that relies heavily on public generosity to survive, the pandemic has dished out a double blow to nonprofits as donors — both individuals and corporates — diverted their funds to Covid relief and the PM Cares fund. And then came the Foreign Contribution Regulation Amendment (FCRA) bill in September that imposed stiff conditions on bigger organisations and stopped their transfer of funds to smaller ones.
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