Caste has been playing a very dominant role in our society and accidentally somehow Indian Media plays a very crucial in promoting upper-caste thanks to its influences in our day-to-day life. Media’s powerful instruments of mass persuasion are used in order to inculcate desirable tastes and opinions, the standard of desirability being found in the accepted tastes and opinions of the society. Professional advertisers and campaign managers are not primarily concerned with existing facts. They are interested in what the consumer or elector now believes or in events only in so far as this enters into the end product, i.e., what the consumer or elector can by skillful handling be induced to believe or want.
Mass Media has the potential to play an important role in the process of empowerment for political, economic, social, cultural, and so on in the overall development of society. It can serve as an important instrument in achieving social justice by educating, raising awareness and questioning caste discrimination. Recent brutalities on the demonstrations on various people’s issues have occurred? So what has led to this situation? Have the police become more daring, brazen and unconcerned about media reportage, particularly in today’s world of media proliferation, or has the media become more sympathetic to the arms of the State by going soft on them? It is actually a combination of both. Nonetheless, the role of media, mainstream, alternative or social by highlighting people’s concerns and exposing the State, when it desires, cannot be discounted.
Here is the most recent example on casteism in Indian media: The story of the Unnao rape case exemplifies how a criminal nexus continues to operate, where money, muscle power, and politics might that enabled Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his accomplices to lord it over their fiefdom in Unnao and get away with multiple crimes. And the minor victim didn’t even get the security by the UP police and was set ablaze after stabbing her by five men on Thursday, 5 December’ 19. Unfortunately, she passed away on Friday, 6th December’19. Not only she but her family members have also suffered and died during the case. But our Indian Media didn’t even mention their names because they all belonged to upper caste, i.e., Brahmins as all five accused. The 5 accused are Shubham Trivedi, Umesh Bajpai, Shivam Trivedi, Ram Trivedi and Harishankar Trivedi who all have strong and powerful status.
The mass media, or the mainstream media, which could play such an important role in addressing issues concerning casteism, is unfortunately not doing so. Truthful and sensitive investigation of social issues and challenges is a key responsibility of the media. Journalism is called the fourth pillar of democracy and media should always raise a vociferous debate on the caste cauldron in society. Ideally, a media system suitable for democracy ought to provide its readers with some coherent sense of the broader social forces that affect the conditions of their everyday lives, but that is hardly the case. Indian mass media is inherently prejudiced and biased, reflecting the caste-based divisions of the society at large.
There are many already excuses to deny justice and give favors to already privileged. There is only one solution to overcome this, i.e., to create an alternative media system. Creating alternative media systems is not easy. It needs sustained effort and interest. But, once it is achieved we could create a public sphere in the real sense, where people-centric, decentralized and democratized media will become true voices of people, community and the nation.
The usage of internet with movements and activists are already putting the Internet to good use. They opened blogs, websites to post their comments and react to policies. Facebook and other networking sites too are in use. Unfortunately, the left is not actively involved in such endeavors. Though the reach of the internet is as yet small, its future cannot be questioned. These options too should be added to our armory.
-Adiba Ghaus (MJMC, First year)