Moving Upstream: Luni – Fellowship

Moving Upstream: Luni – Fellowship

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published Published on Oct 10, 2023   modified Modified on Oct 10, 2023

The Moving Upstream: Luni program is a continuation of Veditum’s Moving Upstream fellowship program which we co-host with the Out of Eden Walk.

For the Luni program, we are partnering with the School of Pubic Policy at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, and this effort is supported by A4Store & Out of Eden Walk.

The aim is to document the river and life in and around it, the impact of man-made actions on those whose livelihoods depend on the river and improve our understanding of the Luni river ecosystem.

Through the fellowship, we will look at various aspects of people’s relationship with the river: agriculture, water, energy, culture, livelihood and sustenance. The aim is to create a living archive of the river. 

The Luni River is unique in India. It originates in the Aravallis close to Ajmer in Rajasthan and flows through the Thar Desert. The high salinity of the soil turns the river brackish, while the geographical conditions of the region ensures the river does not meet the Arabian Sea. Instead, the river drains into the Rann of Kutch.

The river has historically been an important source of water for the ago-pastoral communities of this arid region, but for more than a decade now it has not flown fully through its entire stretch. 

Despite the seasonal nature of the river and the high salinity, it remains an important water source for the arid regions of Rajasthan. 

In our previous fellowships for River Betwa and River Sindh, our fellows have brought forth unique perspectives and creative ways of story-telling that adds to the larger understanding of the rivers. They have produced a body of work that is now a detailed resource about the river but also a well-documented nuanced relationship between the river and its people. 

The output has ranged from journalistic writing in English and Hindi, soundscapes and zines, documentaries and photo essays, bird-watching guides and stories for children. See examples of previous works here – Moving Upstream Fellowship

We’re now turning our lens towards River Luni, an under-studied, under-reported and perhaps under-appreciated dryland river ecosystem.

 

Outline:
This open call is for applicants interested in creating archives by walking along parts of the Luni river. 

The aim is to walk along the river in four parts. Each part will comprise of two fellows and is roughly 125km in length. Fellows are expected to traverse this length in two weeks, that is, approximately 9-10km per day of their choosing.

Stay will be determined by applicants who should strive to be hosted in villages close to the river. This ensures that fellows achieve an intimate profile of people’s relationship with the Luni River. 

The walk, for all four groups, has to be undertaken between 15 January & 29th February 2024, a period where we anticipate the weather to be most suitable. 

We encourage applications from varied fields of interest and work. Previously, we’ve had journalists, photographers, water or wildlife researchers, architects, graphic designers, sound engineers, film-makers, biologists and others. 

This year too, we encourage applications across disciplines to apply for this fellowship. However, early-stage professionals will be prioritised. 

Please ensure that you have carefully read through the notes on this page before applying / sending in your queries.

Eligibility criteria:
Applicant should be an Indian national, at least be 21 years of age, and willing to take responsibility and liability for the walk. 
Two week commitment – between 15th January & 29th February 2024 – to walk along the Luni river.
Weekly meeting commitment before and after the walk, and agreement to find time post the walk to share collected material and work on publishing stories.
Able to conduct interviews (converse and understand) in Hindi. This is important because the walk will take the fellow into rural, interior areas where Hindi or its dialects will be predominantly spoken. 
Should own a smartphone and be proficient in its use for communication and to take photos and videos.
Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of documentation.
Willing to work through the uncertainties of journeys on foot.


Preferred:
Fascination of rivers and how people live with and are part of riverine ecosystems.
A prior understanding of or demonstrable inclination to understand social, environmental, wildlife, or agricultural topics.
Applications are solicited from all qualified candidates regardless of age, class, caste, disability status, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. 
We are an equal opportunity employer. If you do belong to a marginalized group, please self-identify in your application. We strive to have diversity amongst our fellows that will allow us to view the river through multiple perspectives.


Aim of the fellowship:
The aims of the walk remain broad, and fellows will have the freedom to pursue topics and issues of their interest. Broadly, we aim to: 

To create a grassroots-level documentation of the river and life in and around the river, understand changes in hydrological regimes and effects of climate change.
To document the dynamically evolving two-way impact of humans on the river system and in turn, of the changing river system of riparian communities and their livelihoods. This includes continuously-evolving agricultural practices, dependency on the river and groundwater for irrigation, river bed farming, sand, etc.
To document cultural practices in the region and people’s relationship with the river. Especially placed based practices of groups such as pastoralists.
To present scientific evidence or creative story-telling around the river health, agriculture, and drinking water of the region. 
 

What does this involve?
Before the walk
Undertaking a walk like this can be mentally and physically-strenuous. We expect chosen applicants to be prepared to the best of their abilities before embarking on the walk.  This includes: 

Researching the various aspects of the river – the potential issues affecting the health of the river or issues of the region 
Planning the walk with a rough itinerary and places of halt for the two weeks there. Itineraries do change, but it is key to plan for as many variables possible 
Online interactions with fellowship facilitators, past fellows, and experts on river ecosystems, story-telling and other aspects. 
 

During the walk:
Being adaptive!
Walking as close to the river as possible, and observing the patterns of change along its banks
Coordinating with the fellowship facilitator on a near daily-basis
Detailed interviews with those who live along the river.
Creating documentation (images, videos, notes or any other form that suits the fellow).
 

After the walk:
Notes, audio-visuals, & any other form of documentation to be shared with us within two weeks of returning from the walk.
Fellows are required to allot time to work on publishable outputs for Veditum’s website and other publications in the 3 month period after returning from the walk. This includes a mandatory introductory article on Veditum’s website by each group.
Some of the work created from the walk will be published by Veditum on its own site. Number of items will depend on the style of documentation which depends on the fellow’s interests and form of creativity.
For external publishing – Veditum will assist in identifying and pitching to publishers and platforms.
Fellows can also independently identify publishers/platforms to publish their work from the walk, keeping Veditum in the loop at all times.
Veditum and IIT Delhi will have freedom to use the material for open archives, creative work & promotions, with credits to the creator.
Creative content copyright will remain with the creator as well as the freedom to use it for personal promotion (with acknowledgement to the Moving Upstream project if/when used).

Expenses and returns:
Basic expenses will be taken care of by us – return train tickets (up to 3AC) and on-walk expenditure.
An honorarium of 10,000 will be awarded once the documentation is shared with us post walk.
Fellows will be compensated modestly for work published on Veditum’s website, at the rate of 2,500 per article.
Fellows have the right to keep the compensation awarded for publication of work in other platforms at the rates decided by the publisher.

How to apply:
All interested candidates should:

Create a short note on the Luni River, the issues affecting river health and the potential impact on the people living close to the river in 1,000 words text in English or Hindi, or through any other creative form, including cartoons or animation, audio or video entry (around 5 minutes for audio-video entries).

Do mention the kind of stories/issues that you would be interested in along the river. This could be wildlife, pastoralism, environmental, agricultural or caste and gender dynamics around water access. 
Send a cover letter (text / video) that includes why the fellowship interests you, a short biography, level of field-research or story-telling experience (if any), engagement with the environmental space, among others.
Applicants are encouraged to express themselves creatively in the application, and are free to play with different content formats – e.g. videos or cartoons and graphics – for their application. Creativity is as important as documentation rigour here.
Applications can be made solo or in pairs.
Send the above to movingupstream@veditum.org latest by 30th October 2023, with subject line ‘Moving Upstream: Luni’
A short-list of applicants will be invited for a task in mid-November, following which there will be an interview. Final selection of fellows will be complete by 15th December 2023.
Languages accepted for the application – English and Hindi.
If you have any more questions, please reach out to us at movingupstream@veditum.org

 

For more information please click here and here.

 

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