A drastic turn of events had Sanjay competing with 300 candidates and being interviewed amongst five by the Ford Foundation to leads its pilot Indigenous Media Project in five Greater Himalayan countries. In two months’ time, Sanjay had to disassemble his established life and don the cap of a Development Professional, with pleasure, of course.
With the onset of New Media (i.e., usage of television, computers, and mobile phones) the communities were broadly beginning to be divided into haves and have-nots. Simply put, those with access to electricity and these new gadgets were at the front line of receiving new and useful information. However, those without access to electricity and new gadgets, most of whom were already illiterate or semi-literate, were increasingly being left behind. In effect, on the one hand, the world was developing leaps and bounds, and on the other, a large section of the underdeveloped population was being pushed back into the dark ages. Waiting for this section of the community to become literate and/or have access to new media would further widen the void. This alarming void needed to be addressed urgently.
Aimed at improving communication methodologies between knowledge generators and knowledge seekers in the Greater Himalayan region, the project was to examine and promote the use of traditional media for passing on relevant agriculture and livelihood-related information to grassroots communities. Indigenous Media being a pilot project, Sanjay needed to exercise careful judgement in selecting project sites and partners that could provide representative samples of the regions of the Greater Himalayan region. Cultural attitudes, languages, currently used Indigenous Media and capabilities of local NGOs and institutions, were the basis for selecting partners and sites.
Having selected appropriate partners, and visiting each of the project partners in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, Sanjay trained partners in creating Indigenous Media prototypes, visual communication, composition, storytelling, entertainment, problem-solving, acting, puppet making, prop making and directing and producing presentations disseminating livelihood and agriculture-related messages and processes.