Chief of Sakal Media Group’s Young Inspirators’ Network & Editor Youth Sandip Kale is a 21st-century journalist. Having begun his career at the advent of the new millennium, he is tech-savvy, in touch with his youthful readers and full of innovative ideas. He is energetic, works round a clock and delivers results ahead of time. He is known for his pro-active attitude and out of the box thinking. Yet his writing is borne out of deep study and research; it is based on his experience of working with social movements in the state right from his college days.
From a small village in Nanded district to his senior position at one of Maharashtra’s leading media groups working in Mumbai, Kale has indeed blazed a path of progress for himself. Kale was born to farmer parents Ramrao Kale and Kamalbai Kale in Patnur where he completed his matriculation. He completed his 12th from Umbri, and graduation from Pratibha Niketan in Nanded. It was in college that Kale discovered his flair for writing.
Early College Days
As Editor of the college magazine Prerna, he wrote numerous articles from stories to poems to write-ups about the various events in college. He also contributed regularly to a magazine helmed by his professor SM Kulkarni, who was a journalist at Maharashtra Times. That magazine named Srimanta Darshan also included a column and regular features by Kale. At times, he was even allowed to write editorials.
The other guiding light for Kale during his college days was Prof. Rajaram Vattamwar. He was such a significant inspiration that Kale wrote a book on him titled “Aai Manaacha Guru”. He had Kale enrolled at Baba Amte’s Shrimansa Saunskar Chhavni (camp) for students. It became such an integral part of his life that Kale ended up becoming the organizer of the camp. He was a member of Chaatra Bharati, served as its state secretary for many years as well as a volunteer of Rashtra Seva Dal.
Journalist Sandip Kale was strongly influenced by the socialist ideology and regularly interacted with public intellectuals such as Bhai Vaidya, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar. These public intellectuals used to stay back at Kale’s residence in Nanded and sometimes Kale would stay back at the residence of these public intellectuals. Sandip Kale lead rallies and morchas for pressing students’ demands. At the camp, he played a crucial leadership role.
Recalls of Baba Amte’s camp
Sandip recalls an incident when one day while he was administering the oath of good conduct to the attendees of the camp, Baba Amte himself came and instructed the more than a thousand present candidates to administer the oath to Kale. He said that because everyone was equal, and no matter whether a person is a leader or a volunteer, they have to be treated the same. So etched in his heart was the message of the oath he had taken, that when the day came for his marriage, he did it with a budget of just Rs. 5. Even lesser than what the oath urged its followers to do. Kale also represented Maharashtra at the Chhatrabharti Vidyarthi Sanghathana and represented Marathwada at the World Social Forum in Mumbai.
These experiences created an inclination towards journalism in him and he moved to Aurangabad to study it further. Journalist Sandip Kale completed his Master’s as well as MPhil in Journalism at Babasaheb Ambedkar University in Aurangabad. Simultaneously, he was a beneficiary of the “Earn while you Learn” scheme of the university. As a part of the work, he got the opportunity to write for various departmental and college publications, brochures and literary magazines.
Sandip’s favourite form is short stories and he wrote numerous stories on various topics ranging from business to education, highlighting the need for reforms in these fields. More than 350 of his stories have been published in the renowned magazine Shrimant Darshan. It built his confidence in his writing abilities. In the first year itself, he became Executive Editor of a magazine in Aurangabad named Lok Ashray, owned by Shivaji Bankar Patil.
Though he stayed at the hostel, he found a fatherly figure in Prof. Suresh Puri, whose house became a second home for Kale. He taught him the nuances of writing, editing, maintaining contact with the readers and giving an interesting slant to the news. He was particular about his students putting into practice what they were learning at the University. Kale began to conduct interviews and write articles regularly.
Sandip’s First Job
His rich experience, combined with his aptitude for the written words helped him to get a job right out of college with the evening daily Sanjvarta. Journalist Sandip Kale spent three years at the eveninger, under Editor Vidyavilas Pathak who truly inspired him to take off his career into the world of journalism. Pathak imbibed in him the skill of understanding the significance of news-worthy events and to gauge how small incidents are part of a larger narrative affecting news at the national level.
Senior journalist Vidyabhau Sadavarte’s style of writing columns influenced Kale greatly, and he learnt from him the knack of writing engagingly and interestingly. In those days, Sadavarte’s columns were so popular that once the paper was released in the afternoon, the rest of the day they would be the topic of conversation across the city. It was among all from office-goers to tea vendors to rickshaw drivers. Journalist Sandip Kale aspired to write like him one day and he worked hard to ensure that. There were days when the responsibility of the newspaper was left to very few people who had to edit the entire edition and Kale lived up to the task. Even when his grandfather passed away, Kale continued to work until the day’s paper was set, which contained two detailed articles by him.
For him, work has always taken precedence over personal needs. He feels that a journalist should be conscious of his responsibility. They should be willing to go beyond the call of duty when required. Today, this is in contrast to the trend he has observed. People are working strictly within their bounds, and not even go beyond their beat for the extra work.
Kale’s inclining career ladders
Kale’s hard work did not go unnoticed. While working in Aurangabad, Kale’s network slowly grew and he came into contact with journalist Sanjay Varkad. Kale along with Sanjay Varkad joined IBN Lokmat in Nanded. Thus, Kale also worked with the daily Udyacha Marathwada as an Executive Editor and simultaneously taught Journalism at Vivekananda Mahavidyalay during this period. He went on to become the Head of the Journalism Department at the College. He also taught Journalism in MGM College and SRT University, Nanded.
One of his most rewarded stories during this time was investigative journalism. He exposed how textbooks worth crores were falling to pieces in a state of neglect. Instead of reaching the beneficiary students, textbooks were decaying in the Zilla Parishad’s storerooms. As a result, many responsible officials were suspended and the students got access to the books. The story bestowed him 42 state-level journalism awards including the “Baba Dalvi Lokmat” Puraskar. He also worked as an Editor in the daily Lokpatra for a few years during this time.
Hands in Electronic Media
Continuing his journey in an audiovisual media, Kale then became the Bureau Chief of Marathwada for the Jay Maharashtra news channel along with the senior journalist Mandar Phanse. Having eight districts under him to covers, his works widen. Now, Kale dealt with a varied range of issues peculiar to each area. To understand the region better, Kale spent a year travelling across the region. He experienced the first-hand challenges the people in Marathawada faced. Kale’s maternal uncle, renowned author F M (Fa Mu) Shinde was the head of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan. That gained him exposure, contacts and interacts with numerous people.
He helmed a show called “Samarthya Ahe Chalwaliche” that went into the origins and evolution of many social movements in Maharashtra. This enabled him to gain acquaintance with many activists. His days were filled with extensive travels, constant meetings and investigating stories. Kale worked 24×7, including on Sundays. He did at least five stories a day. It was the phase of his life that instilled in him the workaholic nature, he still has today. The result of his hard work was apparent. He won the Best Reporter Award thrice.
Introduced to Sakal
With hands-on experience as an electronic and print journalist, Sandip Kale decided to move to Mumbai to make big in journalism. Here, he got the opportunity to work for the Sakal Media Group. He was introduced to Abhijit Pawar. Mr Pawar looked upon his experience of working with students and activist background. He handed him the responsibility of his pet project – The Young Inspirators’ Network (YIN). The plan was to create a network of youth in colleges across the state.
In the first year, beginning with ten colleges slowly team reached out to other colleges in each district. YIN aimed to give a platform to the youth to showcase their talents and develop leadership qualities. It received an overwhelming response. Kale travelled to almost every district in the state, meeting college authorities and student representatives and encouraging them to become a part of the initiative. “The response was awesome. We reached the targets we had set for ourselves much earlier then we taught. There was a YIN representative in each district of the state,” recalls Kale.
Taking it further, they now organize Summer Youth Summits along the lines of Baba Amte’s Chhavnis. At these summits, youngsters receive the opportunity to stay together, interact, network, and discuss challenges faced by the country and the state. They exchange thoughts, innovate, find solutions and form lifelong friendships. It was based on SMG MD Abhijit Pawar’s belief that in addition to their intellectual development, leadership development is crucial for success in today’s era. At the same time, they should realize the amount of hard work, efforts and competence it takes to resolve burning issues of the day. With this in mind, they began to conduct elections to select a YIN President and Vice President for each college.
Student elections have a contentious history in Maharashtra. It has been banned due to violence and over-politicization. However, YIN managed the feat of conducting elections successfully with widespread students’ participation. With a firm belief that it is a pre-requisite in a democracy, students contributed to a free and fair electoral process. These college Presidents, further elect a District President who together make up a Council of Ministers and Deputy Ministers. Each Minister has a separate portfolio. “They hold regular sessions like any parliamentary process. All of them discuss and come up with concrete resolutions on the projects ranging from educational reforms to improving conditions of old age homes. This creates a keen awareness of the society around them. They get experience beyond the theoretical knowledge they learn in college,” said Kale.
What is heartening to see, is the real change that the YIN Network is leading to. For instance, the students from Aurangabad voiced the concern that students from Marathwada were finding it difficult to go abroad for higher education. This was due to the lack of sufficient passport offices in the region. Immediately, then CM Fadnavis announced the setting up of new passport offices in the region. Students living in rural areas are studying the issues of farmers around them. And, they are finding innovative solutions to challenges of rural distress.
Kale handles all youth-related content for the SMG, as demanded by any of their publication. He aims to connect more and more youth to the Group. He recalls how the first year of YIN, he spoke at more than 20 colleges in each district of the state and regularly continues to do so. The recent YIN Buzz network, a youth-centric online portal was his brainchild to give a forum for young college reporters. Besides, he handles other outreach programmes such as elections for Tanishka which is an initiative for women empowerment. He also handles the major projects for SMG’s Delivering Change Foundation.
It was under the Foundation’s banner that Sakal organized a convention to tackle the water woes in Maharashtra. They brought researchers, activists, policy-making and academicians together to speak about water conservation and drought management. The outcome of this convention was the catalyst behind the Maharashtra government’s much-lauded Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyaan.
Additionally, Journalist Sandip Kale looks after the Mass Skilling Development Project which aims to provide knowledge and skills in the use of cutting edge technology to farmers to enable scientific agricultural practices. He also looks after the Mahan Rashtra Network that brings together individuals willing to work for the cause of needy farmers.
Inspiring Maharashtra through his column
Keeping the writer in him alive, Kale writes a column named “Bhramanti Live”. He narrates the unique lives of people he met through this column. He throws the spotlight on the achievements of lesser-known individuals and seeks to document inspiring stories. With attributes to these stories, he shows his hobby of observing the surroundings and striking up conversations with unknown people. He is always curious about the life story behind the face. Written about deaf classical dancers, who cannot hear the music but dance to its vibrations shows this. He also wrote about the love story of a blind flute-player whose melodious notes could stir the coldest of souls.
Recently, he published a column with a heading called “Hasleli zenduchi phule” where he wrote the highly inspiring story. He scribbles about a teacher in Parbhani. A teacher found out that his students were dropping out of school to sell flowers. However, he was being unable to sell them which forced him to find another job during Dussehra. He resolved that he would go barefoot till his students could afford to buy the new clothes their family had promised them for the festival. He formed a WhatsApp group and urged his family and friend to buy zendu (marigold) flowers for Diwali directly from the farmers at a good price.
This movement caught on fast and soon schools, colleges, government offices, even police stations were buying flowers from the farmers. This leads to a great profit for the student. The collectors even issued a notification asking government officials in their jurisdictions to emulate the idea. That year, stories of farmer indebtedness showed a distinct downward trend and all the students together bought new chappals for their revered teacher.
Working with Social organisation
Sandip Kale considers himself to be more of an activist than a journalist. His background of working with Rashtra Seva Dal, the Mahatma Gandhi Sarvodaya Sanghatana, Chaatra Bharati, Anandvan Mitra Mandal, the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti and Anna Hazare’s social awareness campaign decisively influence his work. This reinvigorates his desire to work among the youth and prepare them for the cause of nation-building. As much as he accomplishes this task through his speeches, he remains a writer at heart. He has used the power of the pen to convey thoughts of more than 300 eminent personalities. He has interviewed from Amitabh Bachchan to Dr Shriram Lagoo. A memorable anecdote is when he interviewed senior author Vin da Karandikar and wrote an entire feature on him in an hour and faxed it to him. The writer was amazed at his speed and technology.
Sandip Kale’s works
Kale is a prolific writer. He wrote his first book “Anavrutt Vruttapalikadche” in 2009 and has since then written nineteen books. His latest “Mu. Po. Aai” (Mukkampost Aiee Sampadakanche Matrusmaran) has articles written by prominent journalists on their respective mothers. The book has a foreword by none other than senior politician Sharad Pawar. The first time, Mr Pawar has written the foreword for any writer. Kale finds him as an inspiration. He has first-hand experience about the root level contact with the public, the former Union Minister has. Mr Pawar has handwritten the four pages foreword for Mu Po AAi.
Kale is in awe of his attention to detail and sharp memory. Mr Pawar is highly humble as well. Kale recalls, how he grace the occasion of the inauguration of his book. He narrated his childhood stories with his mother, which were never heard before.
Kale inspire others but who inspires Kale
Besides Editor Vidyabhau Sadavarte’s simplicity, senior journalist Kumar Ketkar’s journalistic prowess, Prof. Suresh Puri’s communication skills, author F.M. Shinde’s ability to connect to the readers have all been qualities to be emulated for Kale. Among the Editors he has worked for, Editor-in-Chief Shriram Pawar has been the ablest of leaders. His sharply studious nature, news-grasping abilities, belief in having strong content and most importantly, his positive attitude and problem-solving nature steered the ship in the right direction. Kale learnt from him that a true leader is one who wishes to uplift his colleagues and ensure their progress equally.
Kale also has great respect for SMG MD Abhijit Pawar, with whom he shares a friendship that goes beyond the employer-employee relationship. He says his ability to dream big and to implement that vision is phenomenal, so is his willingness to always put the welfare of others before himself. His decision to infuse young blood into the organization, by giving leadership positions has truly energized it and will reap rich dividends. His words that we should work for the blessings of our people rather than monetary gains will always stay with Kale.
On his way for acquiring Doctorate
Journalist Sandip Kale is presently pursuing a PhD, with the thesis on Sakal Media Group & Abhijit Pawar’s Social Work. He has had the constant support of his wife Sarika Kale, who herself has a double Master’s degree. The story of their love marriage is so adventurous, that it will merit a different post unto itself. Today, they are happily settled with two sons Arnav and Atharva.
Considering his extensive work among the youth, Journalist Sandip Kale has a word of guidance for them like an elder brother. He rues the fact that today’s youth are whiling away their energies on their phones. They are neither reading enough nor engaging with society as much as they should. Today’s generation seems unwilling to start from scratch and work their way up to success. They want immediate fame that social media brings instantly.
However, it is crucial to work in every position, to gain knowledge and understanding from the lowest step of the ladder. This will build a firm foundation that will ensure more sustainable success later on in life. While youth will shape the future, they need the words of wisdom given by elders based on their experience to show them the way. Hearing these words by Kale is very heart-warming.