Rizwan Ahmed & Suhail Mir
Muzamil Maqbool started his online media and production house in June 2019. Little did he know that within a few weeks the abrogation of Article 370 would plunge Jammu and Kashmir into a communications black hole. All telephone and internet services were snapped for months. It took a heavy toll on his work and on the show, Down the Line, he had just launched. He had just launched his. It was not at all possible for him to continue his work without internet. In January 2020, when restricted internet services were restored at 2G speed, he decided to launch his podcast, Plain Talk with MMB, despite all the odds.
He attended plenty of online training before launching his own podcast. Today his podcast is available on more than 13 online platforms and is accessible worldwide. His professional experience is entirely different from what he does now but his education in international relations is a motivation for him to discuss global issues. Muzamil has been a developmental professional with various international organisations in India and abroad. Plain Talk is a podcast series where he invites guests to talk about various issues like UNSDGs, Politics, International Relations, the post-Covid world, and Climate Change. He says global politics is his main area of interest and research. The podcast is for him a means to discuss openly and freely what is going on in the world.
“I think there is a need of independent platforms like Plain Talk where people can speak without any hiccups. It is running under the banner of 101 North, an online media group. I invite people from all walks to speak with me and with each other about a lot of things happening in India and across the globe. I think podcast is a medium where one can speak freely without any time restraints,” he says.
“In present times one has to be flexible with multimedia journalism and there is vast demand in the field for alternative journalism as well. Due to the coronavirus situation I am not able to invite my guests and talk face to face but I am hopeful that this too shall pass,” he says.
Suhail Mir in conversation with Muzamil Maqbool
Tell us briefly about yourself.
I am a developmental professional and doctoral fellow from Srinagar. I have studied public administration, politics and international relations. I have vast experience of working for the developmental sector in India and abroad. I have been a fellow of UNAOC-YSF 2015, Young Bangla international fellow of 2017, and have co-authored two books with STEP-UNAOC and UNICEF-INDIA.
I come from a middle-class family where an independent job was never an option.
Tell us about your podcast, Plain Talk.
Plain Talk is a podcast series where I invite guests to talk about various issues, particularly global issues. I am very much interested in global politics and it has also been my subject of research. I started this podcast to discuss openly and freely a lot of things going on in the entire world. I also think there is a need of independent platforms like Plain Talk where people can speak without any issues. I invite people from all walks of life to speak openly about things happening in India and across the globe. I think podcast is the only medium where one can speak freely without any time boundaries.
Your education and experience is different from what you do now. How do you manage it?
After spending nearly 9 years in the developmental sector, I finally decided to move completely to my field of research: International Relations. Through Plain Talk I try to understand the viewpoints of a diversity of people from across the globe. I have been following Joe Rogan, Jordan Belford (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Mehdi Hassan for a very long time now. The Joe Rogan Experience and Deconstructed is one of the main motivations behind launching my own podcast. Progressive journalism is the key to success now a days. As to the question of how I manage it, it is because I was never happy with my job. Starting my own podcast or an online platform like 101 North was always my dream and on my bucket list. It is still a work in progress.
You are the first professional podcaster from Kashmir. How does it feel?
Yes, I love to do things differently. During my recent webinars with Spotify, I was introduced as the first professional podcaster from Jammu and Kashmir and among a very few young podcasters from northern India. People sometimes get confused between audio note and podcast. Podcasting is an art where one raises issues in completely a new way, to reach as many people out there. My podcast is available on 13 platforms including Google podcasts, Apple podcasts, and Breaker. My podcast is accessible worldwide. I would love to teach people how to launch their own podcast. I believe in growing together and peacefully.
Tell us more about 101 North Group and Rumi Centre for Global Peace. How do you see it growing from here?
Plain Talk with MMB and Down the Line, these shows are just beginning on 101 North. We are planning to create the best platform for budding journalists who want to excel into video journalism and beyond. We are also planning to train youth for blogs/vlogs, photography, creative/script writing and podcasting.I happen to be a Certified Peace Educator from the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations, so this was how the Rumi Peace centre came into existence as a project under Global Youth Corps, a non-profit based in India. Under Rumi Peace centre, we have been doing workshops on peace education especially on Peace Psychology, from 2016. We also do online peace campaigns around the world to bring everyone on one platform of peace. Our recent workshop on Peace Psychology and Restorative Justice was attended by young university students and was conducted in collaboration with an international organisation working on peace based in New Delhi and Bangalore.
Is there any advice for young people who opt for alternative journalism?
In present times one has to be flexible with multimedia journalism and there is vast demand in the field for alternative journalism as well. This is the only field where you won’t get everything overnight. It is something which an individual should do out of his/her passion, not because someone else is doing it. If journalism is your passion then a career in alternative journalism can be super exciting. However, everyone opting for journalism as a career must take proper counselling from professionals.