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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

Former BBC Hindi producer is first South Asian finalist of Guardian Development Journalism Competition

A former BBC Hindi Service producer has become the first South Asian-origin journalist to be shortlisted for The Guardian's prestigious annual International Development Journalism Competition.

Nishtha Chugh made the 2013 shortlist of 12 journalists for her piece on "Burro", a novel new eco-friendly, renewable battery rental service that's bringing electricity to thousands of impoverished villagers in rural Ghana.

The finalists were chosen from a field of more than 600 entries.

Launched in 2008, The Guardian International Development Journalism Competition aims to highlight some of the crucial issues faced by developing nations, often overlooked by the mainstream media.

Bristol University graduate Ms Chugh, who is originally from New Delhi, tells The UKAsian that making the shortlist has been doubly special, not only as she's the first South Asian to make the final 12 but also because she found out about the competition a mere four days before the deadline for submissions.

"The competition has grown progressively hard since it was launched. Given the sheer volume and quality of entries received each year I was not sure I would even make it to the long-list", Ms Chugh says.

"British mainstream media is synonymous with elitism and somewhat rightly so.

Having spent over three years with the Hindi and Urdu services at the BBC World Service I have learnt it is even harder for non-native English-speaking journalists - even with international experience - to break into this impregnable fortress and make a mark in the industry.

The exposure I have received after being shortlisted has been simply overwhelming."

The 12 finalists will each be sent to a developing country in Latin America, Africa or Asia to write on a selected theme.

Milton Keynes-based Ms Chugh - currently the International Security Editor for the Fair Observer - will travel to Rwanda with Women for Women International, an NGO which helps women survivors of war and civil conflict in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The winner of the 2013 International Journalism Competition will be announced in November.

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