It is not difficult to speak about the state of media particularly the electronic one in India today. If Lal Krishna Adavani is true to his convictions then he must use a much powerful statement than what he used during the Emergency when he famously said : The media was asked to bend and it started crawling’. Problem is that emergency is the favorite topic of the Sangh Parivar whose leader Bala Saheb Deoras had actually sought to dispel the feeling that they were opposed to emergency when he sought appointment with Mrs Indira Gandhi and Acharya Vinoba Bhave, the spiritual guru of Indira Gandhi, at his ashram in Pawnar, played the mediating role. Advani who has now kept monumental silence on the state of affairs of India unlike Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, who has some guts to speak up openly and ask the people to question. Subrahmanyam Swami too is speaking but given the credibility of Swami, none bothers about him except his bhakts in the media who think him as the ‘greatest’ ‘intellectual’ of India.

Today, with the growth of social media, each one of feel ’empowered’ but the big corporations have unleashed such things that they have created such a situation leading to anarchy and chaos in our society. Rather, having an honest discussion, we are now camp followers and I dont blame it to the Sanghis, if you observe media houses and the people you work with, the connections matter a lot. In today’s time, there is one more thing added to it, you must be famous, must have huge followers whether they are crap but then it matter in this age of marketing.

So, there are people who would deliberately write things which attract the others and therefore they come for a verbal blows. We already have a prejudged mind in this country, based on our caste locations, class as well as religious set up and there is little chance that we would agree to even disagree. we feel awkward in ‘agreeing’ to ‘disagree’. The chaos that we are witnessing is because we have camp followers who write on our time lines and will either abuse if they belong to opposite camp or make a mockery of the opponent if they belong to your camp. There is very little space for discussions. You cant agree on every disagreement. What kind of ‘agreement’ will you have in ‘disagreeing’ of some one is a rabid communal thug or caste supremacists ?

The entire discussion today is around Narendra Modi, Sangh Parivar and those who ‘claim’ to oppose them. Now the question, are the people who are ‘visible’ in the media alone are those really fighting. Sitting in their own glass houses with rival groups, is no fight though I still will appreciate that they are still doing their work honestly by raising people’s issues but the fact is people’s issues too have relegated to back-burner and they are raised only when you need to embarrass some one.

If you are fighting against the Sangh Parivar brand of politics or earlier Congress brand of politics, please come out of the brand culture. The problem is that once you are brand, you create bhakts and then it become a disease. When I see ’eminent’ name ‘promoting’ these brands to just be in the ‘good book’ they we too ‘fought’ against Modi as if some body is giving a licence.

India’s dirty social cultural order is not created by Modi but he is the product of it which was earlier enjoyed by the Congress Brands. Now Congress Brand Gandhis have been made redundant by the Hindutva protagonists by creating a super hyper brand of Modi so definitely they will make stories about his ‘greatness’. All whatsapp university students are enjoying those narratives. We had brand everywhere, which is the new model. You have brands of regional leaders everywhere, you have brand in cricket or in cinema, now you have brand in the media, so institutions become too small in front of these brands and the end result is once these brands fades or diminishes, the bhakts become virtually orphan. The brands are not able to see beyond their own noose. They are enjoying either power or the biggest ‘champion’ to fight against the power but at the end of it, both emerge from the same socio political system.

In the past thirty years, I have seen many online journals and papers working honestly where people contributed. They were not commercial but they continued with the yeoman service of sharing of ideas, with excellent and indepth pieces of ideas. I have seen started by Binu Mathew working so hard to bring this out facing his own financial crisis. We saw, Samkaleen Teesari Duniya in Hindi started by Shri Anand Swroop Anand Swaroop Verma, papers like Hastakshep, started by Amalendu Upadhyay. There is Round Table India, which Initiated discussion on the Ambedkarism and Dalit Issue. I started writing in the age when V T Rajshekar, and I would call him legendary journalist, who started Dalit Voice in Banglore. The one man army of VT was so powerful than most of the so called mainstream media which is nothing but Manustream media and it did not happen today, but it carries a legacy.I can say with convictions, if Ambedkarism is alive today, it is thousands of local journals in Hindi, English, Urdu, Punjabi and other regional languages started by people. If Dr Ambedkar’s literature is there, you cant ignore the great work done by Shri Bhagwan Das and Shri L R Balley, the indomitable editor of Bhim Patrika. They are the people who took on the brahmanical elite and gave diverse ideas and critique of the Manustream literature. Even in countries like United Kingdom, Ambedkaraites are in service of people and trying to provide them people’s narrative. Shri Devinder Chander started Samaj Weekly and The Asian Independent and both of them are now available online and also published in print particularly Samaj Weekly. Then there is a Hindi magazine Ham Dalit which is now renamed as Hasiye ki Awaz is fairly old and give opportunity to the people from marginalised communities.Indian Currents is being published regularly for the past so many years every week giving people a distinct view point. Who can forget the immense contribution of Forward Press Magazine which gave enormous new ideas about Bahujan literature, started debate on it, critiqued the Bahujan leadership and provided diverse ideas to people. Though it is not being printed but it is available online and raises important and critical questions.

We can not ignore the important work of documentation done by Sabarang Publications started by Teesta Setalvad and Jawed Anand. The in depth of their work and documentation will help generations to understand what happened and how, at the time when even google is silently deleting your pieces.

I remember meeting many seniors in the media and authors during the post Anti Mandal period when V P Singh government fell and I realised that their ‘progressive’ ‘liberal’ thoughts could not go beyond the ‘interests’ of the their castes. Many of them did not want to meet me after seeing my questionnaire, which I wanted to do on Role of media during anti mandal agitation. I found the English language papers could speak of secularism and Hindu Muslim issues but were very determined against the Mandal Report except the Tribune of Chandigarh which was balanced. The hero of many secular today named as Arun Shourie was one of the most unprofessional and unethical editors of his time who unleashed falsehood, calumny against the pro social justice forces. He build his brand through Indian Express and did everything to justify the Hindutva violence. There was another towering journalist Giri Lal Jain who also surrendered to Sangh Parivar at the end. Open up old issues of Organisers and you will find many ‘secular’ heros writing columns there so it is not a sudden thing that has happened in India. The war was against the assertion of the marginalised communities and Mandal unleashed that therefore V P Singh became the most hated man which even the secular journalists dont want to remember. Even on fight against corruption, none remember him because it does not suit them well.

What I mean today is that please dont judge if we dont congratulate an individual or the other. Dont count us whether we are your side or other side. Its great that people get awards and everything, but at the end of the day dont think that we did not work because you did not take notice of us. We remain dissenter and we appreciate many of those who are working hard in these difficult circumstances. I have no issues with ‘mainstream’ media as definitely we depend on them for news sources. I may not agree with many things but Indian Express remained my first choice. I liked the Cover Page of Telegraph and not necessarily the edit page. Alternative media like The Wire have done courageous work and need to be applauded. There are many others who are doing wonderful work but please do not suggest to us that we were missing because you were not there at the Jantar Mantar. In the last thirty years, I have been there most of the time, participating in all major protests and movements but I dont know where does the mike go and who are the favorite. I have seen when people come with their ‘youtube’ reporters who record them and disappear. So they make it as if there was none except the said person so please stop building this nonsensical brand and make your media houses more inclusive and allow outsiders to speak up. I appreciate Neha Dixit for her work and can say it that her work or that of Nirajan Takle, is much more powerful and serious than many who are sitting in the newsrooms and may call them brand. I am saying there are many who are working tirelessly and do not have the privilege of protection from a well named media houses. It is a fact that your brand help you protections and the same is not true about those who may be a stinger or a so called independent journalist. The poor stingers on whose reports many thrived and got awards always remain anonymous and unknown, prone to violence and oppression.

The media need to stop building brand because it will ultimately damage the institutions and will have little space for dissent. Have a look at all those who are working without any resources for years just because they love freedom and unity among us all. We need to salute all those who may not appear in the Jantar Mantar media but are still working silently as John Milton said, they also serve who only stand and wait.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist



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One Comment

  1. Thefollowing link is a great interview of PM Imran Khan by RT’s Paula Slier.