Follow palashbiswaskl on Twitter

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dalit organizations, networks and movements dismiss the mainstream media. Is this the absolute reality?

Dalit organizations, networks and movements dismiss the mainstream media.
 Is this the absolute reality?

Dalit’s agenda and their representation is absent in the media. Usually cases regarding Dalit atrocities and oppression are either sensationalized in the interest of a particular political party or for just a matter of record/ decorum  given as a small report in the newspaper. If under pressure news channel will run a ticker.

Media is completely under the corporate control. That it is completely under the influence of the Brahmanical forces has been the argument of Dalit organizations, networks and the movements for dismissing the Media. Is this the absolute reality?This is an important issue of concern and needs more debates and discussions.

The important question here is has the Dalit organizations/ movements like other issues been concerned about the Dalit agenda thematically  and its space in the media within the movement? Also the question is whether the movement has ever tried to enter into a dialogue with the Media regarding this issue?

Did the movement ever make any efforts to train/ orientation/ awareness  the grassroots activists and its leaders about the nature of Media and how it functions, its structure, mechanism, formats or the method of choosing news? Also has the movement tried to work with the journalists in unison to make them sensitive to the issues and concerns of Dalit politics?

Has the movement ever demanded from the government or media houses to have a mandatory beat or desk on Dalit related or matters of social justice so that issues concerning the marginalized section are kept a track on and appropriate space assured therein?

Today the situation is such that Indian Institute Of Mass Communication- IIMC which is the premier institution for journalism produces annually a good number of well qualified journalists belonging to the Dalit and the marginalized sections. Despite this, due to the brahmanical framework within which the Media houses functions these sections have been denied jobs. Even If one manages to get a breakthrough, they are given the responsibility of covering general issues rather than the issues of Dalits or the marginalized sections. Most of them end up working in private or public services as information officers. So isn’t this a matter of loss for both the Dalit and the marginalized section? If these students had got their due then as a journalist they would have raised the concerns of the community in a much productive manner, but that is not happening. This should be whose concern?

In this context a very important aspect is that most of national and international organizations, movements and advocacy forums for their resources are largely dependent on foreign donors. Most of these donors [almost all] neither have any program nor intent towards ‘dalit media advocacy’. Another aspect is that regarding this matter dalit organization has never in an organized manner demanded from foreign funders neither from the government.

Underlining this misconception is that on hearing ‘media’ everybody starts thinking for publications of   newspaper/ magazines/ news latter etc or media channels dedicated to Dalit cause which seems to be a big hindrance. Foreign funding in Media for publications and news channels is restricted. Therefore, working within foreign institutional funding various Dalit organizations finds themselves to be helpless and therefore hesitate to initiate anything on this front.  Despite the fact that media advocacy is not connected to the category of publications or news channels.

Unfortunately Dalit organizations have been unable to initiate any understanding towards this particular thematic area.

Dalit Media Advocacy like any other Dalit issue is an independent aspect and needs to be pursued independently.

Main Objectives of Dalit Advocacy are:
-          To make mainstream media sensitive to the issue of caste based discrimination
-          To make mainstream media sensitive to the concerns of Dalit
-          To make mainstream media aware of the different aspects of Dalit issue in order to facilitate more clarity and intensity of issues
-          To work in unison with mainstream media in order to bring dalit issue into the mainstream inorder to facilitate dialogue with the larger society and to bring caste based discrimination into the national mainstream debate.
-          To make the larger society sensitive to the Dalit issues through mainstream media
-          Most importantly to train grassroots Dalit activists and leadership about the structure and functions of mainstream media and make them efficient practitioners.
-          To provide skills and training to grassroots activists and leaders so that they can establish a dialogue with the mainstream media.
-          To use social media effectively and provide training regarding the same.
Its necessary to think that despite raising voices on various issue at the national and international level, why Dalit organizations have been silent on this thematic area?

This is not blame anybody but the answers to these questions needs to be fetched by us collectively.

Friends, Dr. Ambedkar had stressed on the fact the Dalits and the marginalized section should have their own media, which continues to be an unfinished objective. 

Dr. Ambedkar was very clear about the fact that our own media would be an important tool to raise consciousness and contribute towards organizing the community. Dalit community’s own media would be a source for dialogue amongst us and bring all of us together. It will be medium to counter the caste system and spread the message of equality.

But if we want to counter caste or talk about casteless society in the country then it compulsion and important to use the mainstream media itself to establish this dialogue in unison to make it sensitive.

Upset from the mainstream media, many amongst the Dalit talk about an alternative media. But we need to seriously think about this point, because alternative media cannot be alternate of mainstream media since both of them differ in their objective, perspective, context, content, time, class of readers/audience and packaging. 

Alternative media works with a limited audience perspective belong to a particular section whereas mainstream media works at multilevel and broadest perspective which addresses, dialogues and informs a larger audience.  Mainstream media influences different sections in different ways also. 

Alternative media fundamentally is the medium which debates and discusses various issues and influences the sensitive and progressive sections of the society to bring about social transformation. Most of the time it is very much driven by particular ideology, objective and perspective followed by specific issues with targeted readers and audience.

For the issues of untouchability and caste annihilation it is very much important that Dalits and marginalized section have to work for and create their Own Parallel media which will be focused on caste issue and target wider section of the society. 

Despite the fact that mainstream media is completely influenced by the brahmanical forces, this fact also remains that it is not completely restricted to the concerns of Dalits and the marginalized sections till the dialogue regarding the inclusion of all these section by the media is not initiated. Since Media also works within the framework of the constitution and democratic politics. The constitution of the country and the democratic structure lays the guidelines for equal rights and opportunities for everyone. This the entry point through which the concerns of Dalit representation and leaedership in the Media can be raised and seek solutions.

We have to track the developments in the media sector, the internal structural changes and the increasingly changing role of the media. In the past three decades one can observe comprehensive changes in the mainstream media. Without understanding these developments the Dalits and the marginalized section can neither find their space in the media nor their leadership within it.

If the movement have been unresponsive regarding this issue for long then blaming the mainstream media wholly is not appropriate.

This vacuum is what we tried to fill/ bridge through thePeoples Media Advocacy & Resources Centre- PMARC for the last eight years.

 Despite gaining lot of visibility and acknowledgement nationally and internationally, the one and only Dalit Media Advocacy organization in the country, due to lack of resources is about to close down !

.Arun Khote
On behalf of
Dalits Media Watch Team
(An initiative of “Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre-PMARC”)

Pl visit on FACEBOOK :
Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre- PMARC has been initiated with the support from group of senior journalists, social activists, academics and  intellectuals from Dalit and civil society to advocate and facilitate Dalits issues in the mainstream media. To create proper & adequate space with the Dalit perspective in the mainstream media national/ International on Dalit issues is primary objective of the PMARC.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Website counter


Blog Archive