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‘Dire need for media of the oppressed in India; Dalits,Tribals have no representation at the top’

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Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

BHOPAL: The vast majority of the country—the Dalits, Tribals, Backwards and Minorities, have almost nil presence in media houses, especially, at the top level of decision-making and the situation has worsened in the last decade or so.

Hence, there is a dire need for a strong media of the oppressed, says activist Bhanwar Meghwanshi, who was in the town to attend a public hearing on problems facing the nomadic tribes. 

“It should be voice of all the oppressed people who are voiceless”. While there is FDI in all sectors, even defence, relaxing the existing FDI in media is opposed because there are fears that the hegemony and control of certain caste groups on media may weaken.

On newsroom diversity

News room diversity is one the most important issues right now but Indian media is not serious about it, he says. If foreign publications arrive, they might realize the problem and go for affirmative action, creating newsroom diversity, says Meghwanshi, the journalist-turn-activist, who hails from Rajasthan.

“When BBC, Al Jazeera or other foreign publications write about India, they take extra care and try to get to the voices of the voiceless. Here, there is a group comprising less than 5% of population that has complete control of resources.

The study conducted by Anil Chamadia, Jitendra Kumar and Yogendra Yadav had revealed that Tribals, Dalits have no representation at the level of editors. Since then, situation has deteriorated even more”.

READ: 'Caste overrides nationalism, caste groups can damage national property, not abide by courts, still get away'

On social media

He says that due to social media, one is able to hear more voices though it is at times misused also. “The suicide of Rohith Vemula was the turning point. He became an icon. Youngsters were driven to suicide earlier too but his institutional killing led to a movement”.

Due to lack of newsroom diversity, the voices of the oppressed don’t reach the people. If some people try to speak, they are immediately labelled and branded, which leads to their witch-hunt.

Meghwanshi who runs the YouTube channel Shunyakal and has been at the forefront in fighting caste atrocities says that he considers himself as an ‘activist-journalist’.

On the need for activism apart from journalism

I decided that in current situation, I will not just write but if needed, I will also raise slogans and come to the streets for agitation.

Though it is said that journalist shouldn’t get into activism, but in these circumstances, it is needed. In fact, many legendary journalists in the pre-independent era were activists too”.

On RSS and its Saffron agenda

Having authored a book on RSS, he says that it would be foolish to believe that Sangh that believes in philosophy of Hedgewar and Golwalkar would ever follow the agenda of Ambedkar.

“The Saffron forces don’t want Ambedkar’s words to spread. This is the reason, they will turn Ambedkar into a deity but won’t let his books sold so that his thoughts could reach the masses and lead to awakening”, says Meghwanshi, who was associated with RSS long ago but found it casteist and quit it. 

This was the first part of the long conversation. Do read the second part as well:

READ: 'Caste overrides nationalism, caste groups can damage national property, not abide by courts, still get away'


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Journalist for more than 20 years. Had started his career with National Mail in the nineties. Worked as Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, as an Assistant Editor with DB Post, later Contributing Editor with The Huffington Post, writes for First Post, The Wire, Newsd & several other major publications.