Raised by his widowed father, a translator of Tamil literature, Aananth Daksnamurthy developed a love of language and literature at an early age. "Epics from Sangam literature [ancient South Indian texts] became my bedtime stories, and these took on even more meaning when my father took me to local literary meetings," he recalled.
Recently, the freelance writer from a small town in Tamil Nadu, India, was awarded the Fulbright-Nehru Master's Fellowship to pursue an MS in Publishing degree at the NYU SPS Center for Publishing this fall. Presented by the US-India Educational Foundation (USIEF), the Fellowship enables outstanding students, academics, and professionals in India and the US to study, research, and teach in the host country.
"It’s such an honor to be able to study in the US as a Fulbright scholar while being a cultural ambassador of India," said Daksamurthy. "More than the grant, it is the community of Fulbrighters across geographies and diverse backgrounds I am looking to engage with in creating a more progressive world." A literature enthusiast, he is interested in examining the broad contours of Indian vernacular publishing.
As an undergraduate, he followed the traditional Indian higher education path by earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from SASTRA University. But he also explored the humanities, earning a postgraduate diploma in liberal arts from Ashoka University, where he was among the few selected to receive the Young India Fellowship. This year-long rigorous critical writing seminar gave him the confidence to write and strengthened his vision for Tamil literature. "My transformation from being a reluctant English speaker and writer to a confident and effective communicator happened here," he said.
During his professional journey, Daksnamurthy has worked in various roles in publishing, from a business analyst to a contributing journalist. His foray into writing happened when he joined the founding team of a Delhi-based news organization, The Print. He also worked for the Editors Guild of India, and has consulted with the Government of Tamil Nadu, leading their media team for the Industries Department. Recently, he was a consultant for the Institute of International Education (IIE) on South Asia student recruitment.
Daksnamurthy hopes the MS in Publishing degree will help him get in touch with every aspect of publishing and open doors to a network of industry executives, publishers, and editors. His goal is to build a space for vernacular languages in public discourse within India and the world.
"Voices that come with certain privilege, network, and access always get a higher pedestal whereas the doors for marginalized people and their voices are systematically closed at every turn," he stated. "Some languages help you get heard, others are lost in translation, quite literally. I hope the outcome will be an outstanding publishing platform that brings the voices of Indian language writers to the stage that they deserve globally."