NEW: Patralekha is part of an international, multi-disciplinary team of experts assisting Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) design a currriculum on “disaster reportage” for journalism schools in India. She has also contributed a chapter on Media and Disasters for a forthcoming book.
Patralekha Chatterjee is a globally-acclaimed author, journalist and photographer. She has worked and/or contributed to some of the best-known and respected names in the world media.
She won a scholarship which financially assisted her to report from Eastern Europe in the aftermath of the fall of The Berlin Wall, tracking everyday life of citizens and foreigners in the new democracies. She was the only Indian journalist who travelled to Russia on her own initiative immediately after the putsch against Mikhail Gorbachev. Her reports from Moscow and her interview with Grigory Yavlinsky, Russian economist, politician and then a close associate of Gorbachev, was carried in The Economic Times (where she worked in the early ’90s). Patralekha has interviewed world leaders including Rajiv Gandhi, India’s former Prime Minister (shortly before he was assassinated in May 1991) and The Dalai Lama.
A partial list of publications and websites worldwide which have carried her articles and photographs include Liberation (Paris), Panos (UK), The New Internationalist (UK), The Guardian (UK), Chicago Tribune (USA), The Christian Science Monitor (USA), MSNBC.com (USA), The Urban Age (a quarterly magazine brought out by The World Bank Group) and Habitat Debate (publication of the UN-HABITAT, ) Khaleej Times (UAE), The Economic Times (India), Sunday (India), The Asian Age (India), Deccan Chronicle (India), Mainstream (India), Hindustan Times (India), Indo-Asian News Service (India) and Inter Press Service (International).
She has a particular interest in public health and its links with politics, economics, technology, culture, society and international affairs. Her reports about public health challenges confronting Haiti, Sub-Saharan Africa, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Maldives, and India have been published in The Lancet, one of the most prestigeous and influential journals dealing with global health issues, and are cited worldwide in academic and other publications. She also writes regularly for The Bulletin of the World Health Organization (Geneva) and contributes opinion and op-ed pieces to major English language Indian newspapers.
In a career spanning more than two decades, Patralekha has reported the crests and troughs in the unfolding story of modern India, focusing on its politics, economics, art, culture and society for Indian and international readers. As a writer, her interest lies in the people and communities living on the margins in towns and villages across India, the developing world as well as industrialised countries. She has lived and reported from refugee camps across South Asia, focusing on the condition of Tamil refugees, Tibetan refugees, Chakma refugees and displaced populations in Kashmir. She has also chronicled the lot of migrants and refugees in Europe .
Patralekha has a column in three major English-language, multi-edition newspapers. Her column for the Daily News and Analysis (DNA) takes a satirical look at “development”. It appears every alternate week. “Dev 360”, her fortnightly column in The Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle (whose combined circulation is close to 1.4 million) takes a hard look at the issues shaping India and other emerging economies as they strive to seek a balance between growth and inclusive development.
Patralekha has extensive experience investigating community-level innovations in India and other developing countries and has taught health journalism to post-graduate students at the AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi (2008 – 2009). She has also conducted workshops for visiting African journalists and been a media trainer for The Huairou Commission, a US-headquartered NGO working with grassroots women’s organisations around the world.
Patralekha has won numerous national and international awards and honours. A few are listed below.
In 1987, she won the Media India award for best story on human rights ( her reportage on communal riots in Meerut, published in Sunday, then India’s leading news and current affairs magazine).
She was the only South Asian to be selected for The Journalistes in Europe Programme (1989 –’90) and won a fellowship from the French government to report from Western Europe and the new democracies in Eastern Europe during this period.
From 1994 to 1996, she contributed a series of stories about the changing lives of women in Europe and Asia for Women’s Feature Service, an international wire service catering to media outlets across the world.
She is a Fellow of The Salzburg Seminar ( Session 378, The Entrepreneurial City, 13 June – 20 June 2000).
In 2008, she won the Media 21 Global Journalism Fellowship from Info-Sud ( a Swiss NGO) which led to a field trip to the Caribbean island of Haiti and a report on the challenges in accessing health care in the conflict-scarred country, the poorest in the Americas, in The Lancet; was one of the 8 journalists from across the world to win an award from the World Federation of Science Journalists to attend the Eco Health 2008 conference at Merida, Mexico; and was selected as a local expert in India to peer review The Global Integrity Report 2008.
In 2009 , she won a media fellowship from the US-based National Press Foundation to take part in a Journalist to Journalist training programme on HIV and AIDS in Cape Town, South Africa, and to attend the annual International AIDS Society conference (IAS 2009) in that city; also nominated as one of the members of the Communication Experts Network formed by the Global Health Workforce Alliance ( Geneva).
Patralekha’s expertise and understanding of development issues has led to international assignments with the United Nations. She has contributed photo-essays to the UNICEF web site, authored books and monographs for several UN agencies on issues ranging from maternal and child mortality, infrastructure projects and resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced populations, HIV and women’s inheritance rights to best practices in urban governance ( A full list is available on request)
Her reports and opinion pieces have also appeared in specialised journals such as Development Asia, a flagship publication of The Asian Development Bank, Habitat Debate, published by UN-HABITAT and The Urban Age, a quarterly formerly brought out by The World Bank.
The audio-visual media is a new interest. In 2008, she co-directed a 23-minute documentary film on migrants and HIV for Tele Quebec .This was based on her earlier reportage about a Canadian-funded initiative to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS among migrants in the desert state of Rajasthan. Patralekha’s stories and photographs of AIDS orphans in India were published in the book “Hopes Alive, Surviving AIDS and Despair” brought out by FXB India Suraksha, the India affiliate of FXB International, a Geneva-based NGO working for AIDS orphans and other children at risk around the world. The book was released by Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen in Kolkata(February 25, 2009) and by Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari in Delhi (March 2, 2009).
Patralekha contributed a chapter to ‘Environment, Exotic Diseases,the Media: Emerging Issues’ in the The Green Pen, a collection of essays by some of the most prominent environmental journalists in India and South Asia. ( SAGE Publishers, January 2010)
Patralekha was educated in Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Oxford and Paris. She speaks English, French, Hindi and Bengali (mother tongue). Currently, she is based in Delhi