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Citizen Matters – Sustainable Cities Reporting Fellowship (Deadline 8/Mar)

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/* Please note deadline for submission has been extended to March 8th – see details below */

India’s urbanisation challenge is not just one of meeting the immediate needs and aspirations of its citizens. With the country expected to add another 300 million to its urban population in the next three decades, it is also one of ensuring that economic and social development in these urban centres are achieved in a sustainable manner.

Several research reports released in the past year paint an ominous picture of the problems that our urban centres are likely to face in the coming decades:

  • Extreme temperatures
  • Erratic rainfall
  • Severe air pollution
  • Crippling water shortages
  • Sea-level changes and flooding in coastal cities
  • Rising inequality in access to basic services
  • Health and nutrition deficits, among others.

In fact, many Indian cities and towns are already grappling with these issues in the face of unplanned growth and the increasing pressure of rural-urban migration.

As the nation gears up for the 2019 parliamentary election, we see a lopsided discourse—– debates polarising and media coverage skewed towards a select set of issues with attention focussed on party politics and individual political leaders.

Despite the urgent need for cities to prepare themselves with a sustainable strategy to deal with the many challenges, the real issues affecting our health, productivity, and quality of life appear to be forgotten in public discourse.


Oorvani Foundation invites applications for the Citizen Matters Sustainable Cities Fellowship for the cities of Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune.

We are looking for strong stories from these cities, that compel citizens as well as current and aspiring leaders to pay attention. These stories will focus on issues that impact millions of lives daily, as well as present fresh approaches and equitable solutions from civic groups and policy makers.

Each chosen Fellow will cover one city and explore, in depth, the various concerns, initiatives and potential solutions in relation to the most pressing sustainability issues for the respective city.

These would include:

a. Examine root causes of the identified sustainability challenges in each city, the impact felt and how these could be addressed

b. Evaluate engagement on these issues by elected as well as potential representatives from the city — MPs, MLAs and urban local government leaders: What have they done and/or what do they aim to do?

c. Assess current levels of awareness among the citizenry and the role played by civic groups including city or neighbourhood-level public initiatives to address a particular sustainability challenge in each city, problems faced in the process, impact so far and potential for scaling.


Professional journalists, including freelancers, in Print and New Media, with at least one year of demonstrated experience in in-depth long form journalism (in English). Researchers with writing experience will also be considered.

Key dates (UPDATED)

  • Applications must reach us latest by: 8 Mar 2019 
  • Selected fellows will be informed by: 10 Mar 2019
  • Fellowship duration: 11 Mar to 15 Apr 2019


  • Fellows must coordinate with Oorvani team and produce at least THREE stories.
  • Stories must be submitted every Monday starting 18th March
  • Each story will be 800-1500 words, and ideally supplemented with data/visualisations, photographs and other multimedia elements. Fellows are encouraged to use digital media to tell stories in innovative and dynamic ways.
  • In addition, fellows must submit a document with the list of sources, data and documents referred to in the articles.
  • The articles will be published in Citizen Matters. Articles may also be published by partner media organisations, and any other media with due permission and credit (including current employers of the fellow).

Fellowship amount

Rs 30,000

Application process and deadline

Send a cover note along with the following, to  

a. A pitch for a series of 3 stories (600 words maximum). Stories that strongly link issues with action/inaction by political leadership will be preferred. The pitch should also include your approach and planned media elements
b. CV (no more than 1-2 pages)
c. Samples of 2 in-depth reports.

Journalists who are currently employed in a media organisation can also apply. They need to provide a NOC from their editor/reporting manager.