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Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity
Salman Usmani AFSEE

Salman Usmani

Digital Communications Specialist

Salman is a writer and a communications strategist. Over the past 15 years, he has worked in journalism, advertising, and media production across themes ranging from climate change and public health to democracy and human rights.

Salman started his career as a journalist, reporting and photographing stories that focused on caste discrimination, forced displacement, communal violence, and social justice movements. His journalistic work has been published internationally and cited in seminal academic publications. After a brief stint in advertising, where he created campaigns for leading brands and aid organisations, Salman founded a multidisciplinary development communications company. Here, he led a diverse team to create a variety of advocacy and behaviour change communication in the areas of disaster resilience, public health, education, school safety, nutrition, and food security. These projects were supported by organisations like DFID - UK Aid, BMGF and Aga Khan Foundation and their creative outcomes have been adopted by three state governments in India.

In 2015, Salman attended the DFID Global Dialogues on Food Security held across Bangladesh, Mali and Kenya, where he deconstructed the ensuing policy debates in a film that was screened at the headquarters of the UNFAO in Rome. With SEEDS, an organisation working on building disaster resilience in vulnerable communities, Salman studied the irreversible damage caused by yearly cyclones and flooding that migrant fishing and tribal communities suffer in the states of Odisha and Kerala. In 2021, he assessed and documented the impact of the pandemic on the livelihoods of tribal communities and low-income groups. He also created SEEDS' campaign film ‘How do we build in storms?’ that was screened at UNDRR’s 7th Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Bali, Indonesia.

Recently, Salman’s work has focused on India’s widening social fissures: Widespread discrimination through legislative sanction, the rise of majoritarianism, hate crimes and religious persecution and its relationship with digital platforms and technology. In early 2020, Salman joined the founding team of Article-14, a website that publishes reportage, data and research on law, social justice, and democracy, as Special Projects Editor. His most recent project here was the conceptualisation, oversight and visualisation of a database of sedition cases filed in the last 10 years. Released in February 2022, this database is being used by five different petitions challenging the colonial-era sedition law before the Supreme Court of India. Salman is keen on researching the politics of image and representation and how language functions as a tool of othering.

Structures of injustice thrive on misinformation and propaganda. While history is being rewritten and reimagined to justify bigotry and xenophobia, mainstream narratives of the present suffer from bias, stereotyping or censorship. In this background, people are organising themselves not just to safeguard democracy and human rights, but also to tell their own stories.

Salman Usmani


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