Columbia, Feb 6 (IANS) Delhi-based Kashmiri journalist Gulam Jeelani has been chosen for a fellowship in the US funded by a foundation started by prominent Indian-American entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist Frank Islam and his wife Debbie Driesman.
Jeelani, a special correspondent working with the Hindustan Times, becomes the first Kashmiri journalist to have been awarded the Alfred Friendly Press Partners programme (AFPP) fellowship that brings journalists from around the world to the US for a six month programme.
The programme includes training at the Missouri School of Journalism as well as working on the staff of a major newsroom.
“We chose Gulam (Jeelani), from my motherland of India, to be our fellow because his background indicates that he has the interests and capabilities to refine his craft here and to make an even bigger impact on the Indian democracy when he returns home,” Frank Islam said in a statement.
The foundation supports the AFPP fellowship “because as immigrants to the US we realize what a critical role the free press plays in this great democracy and what a contribution journalists make to advancing the cause of a free society,” he said.
Jeelani, who covers politics, development and socio-economic issues for the Delhi-based daily, said he was honoured to be the Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman Fellow that “will enable me to get a first-hand understanding and expertise in the ways of American journalism”.
Jeelani is an alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University where Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman are also benefactors.
Six other journalists from around the world from countries such as Ukraine, Sudan, Jordan and Mexico will be joining Jeelani in the AFPP programme this year.
The AFPP fellowships carry on the legacy of Alfred Friendly who was managing editor of the Washington Post. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six Day War for the Post.
This marks AFPP’s 34th year and 2018 is the 50th anniversary of Friendly’s receipt of the Pulitzer Prize.