The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

International Programs
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-2026

Release: Immediate

Award-winning Indian journalist to speak about 'The Press and Poverty' Sept. 23

IOWA CITY, Iowa ­- Award-winning and internationally recognized Indian journalist and author P. Sainath will speak about "The Press and Poverty" Wednesday, Sept. 23 at the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council (ICFRC). The event, which is open to the public, will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of the Congregational Church, 30 N. Clinton St., Iowa City, and is co-sponsored by University of Iowa International Programs.

Sainath (pronounced SI-neth) is one of India's leading free-lance journalists, based in Mumbai, India. He is in Iowa City for the fall semester as the UI International Programs Distinguished Visiting Professional. He is teaching a seminar in the Third World Development Support Program. This position is funded by a U.S. Department of Education National Resource Center (NRC) grant.

After obtaining a master's degree in history from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Sainath joined the United News of India in 1980. Later, he became foreign editor of The Daily in India and deputy chief editor of the weekly Blitz in Mumbai. In early 1993, he left Blitz to work full-time on rural poverty, after winning a Times of India Fellowship to pursue the subject. His work in that area resulted in 12 more awards and fellowships over the next two years, including the prestigious European Commission's Journalism Award, the Lorenzo Natali Prize and the PUCL Human Rights Journalism Award.

Sainath is the author of "Everybody Loves a Good Drought," a book on living conditions in the 10 poorest districts of India. This book was the result of living two years among those communities and filing 84 reports for The Times of India. That work in itself was part of a project the author undertook on his Times fellowship: "The Forgotten Poor: Putting Poverty Back on the National Agenda."

A review of Sainath's novel, which appeared in the Vancouver Sun, said, "This book transcends national borders, presenting characters, lives and stories of interest to anyone."

Sainath also is currently working on a writing project, "Dalits 1998-2000." This series portrays the lives of dalits or "the former untouchables," members of the lowest caste in India.

"I live with these communities, in their villages, and I'm trying to write for a major Indian newspaper on the world through their eyes," Sainath says. "There is a huge upsurge in these sections now. I'm looking at what are the impulses for change? What directions are the dalits likely to take? Who are these upcoming leaders? How do they define themselves? The word dalit means oppressed. I think it's very bad for the rest of society to remain both unsympathetic and without understanding of what's happening."

Sainath says being at the UI as a Visiting Distinguished Professional is a good opportunity for him. "This gives me a break at a very important time in the sense that I have been on the road for three-quarters of a year every year for the last five years in rural India," Sainath says. "The materials from that have really piled up sky high with literally thousands of photographs. This gives me an opportunity to decompress a bit and work the material."

The deadline to register for Sainath's speech to the Foreign Relations Council is Monday, Sept. 21. The New Pioneer Co-Op will cater the meal. The cost is $6.50 for members and $8 for non-members. There is no charge for those who bring their own lunch. Checks can be written to the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council and mailed to ICFRC, 120 International Center, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1802. For more information, call ICFRC Executive Director Tom Baldridge at 335-0351. They are unable to take reservations by phone but last minute adjustments may be made.

For those unable to attend, WSUI-AM (910) will carry this program Thursday, Sept. 24, following the noon news.

The Iowa City Foreign Relations Council is a nonprofit association of community and university people interested in learning more about U.S. foreign policy, world affairs and current global issues affecting world societies. The group provides members with the opportunity to hear more than 35 experts per year who visit the UI campus and the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area.

Meetings are scheduled from September to June to take advantage of these speakers and are held at noon or in the evening to allow as wide a participation as possible from the business community, other professionals, the community at large and students, faculty and staff from the UI.

Meetings are scheduled at catered luncheons, as dinners or as evening desserts or as "Sack Lunch Seminars."

ICFRC is part of International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean for International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

(Editors note: If you are interested in interviewing P. Sainath, please call Lois Gray, UI International Programs, at 335-2026.)