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Hindu, savarna, urban, elite media: an X-ray, CT Scan, ECG, MRI report

 

Dilip Mandal

As expected, large sections of the media, especially the Hindu (sorry, Hindi) newspapers have adopted the policy of turning a blind eye towards the 'Save the Constitution' rally led by Dr. Udit Raj held on 24th, August in Delhi. A few newspapers seemed to be merely going through the ritual of reporting it.

For the English language media, this rally became news only because 'traffic was hit'. Look at what the media has done to this piece of news! As they say, the media never lets go of any opportunity to show its true caste.

(This report had to be written in some haste: please suggest any modifications/revisions, if needed. This analysis examines the content of the Delhi editions of all major newspapers dated 25 August, 2011).  

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Amar Ujala: No news report, no pictures.

Dainik Bhaskar: No news report, no pictures.

Jansatta: No news report, no pictures.

Navbharat Times: A 1 1/2 inch, two column report, no pictures.

Hindustan: 1 1/2 inch/3 column report, with headline that says-- Save Constitution rally stops flow of traffic. A 4 coulmn picture with a caption about the traffic jam.

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Corruption, an empty signifier: the need for a Bahujan Lokpal Bill

 

Khalid Anis Ansari

I agree broadly that a caste slant will not help much even when it is writ large in the agenda of the forces that are supporting Anna. This is out and out a populist movement and populism has coexisted along with formal democracies right since its inception. In a way populism is also the barometer of democratic functioning and its emergence signals the lacunae in the principle of representation. The basic problem is that peoples' concerns and issues are not finding expression in the formal democratic apparatus and so this movement is a reality check for the system and must pressurize it to deepen democracy by initiating and launching debates on electoral, judicial and other much needed reforms.

gandhi hazare parliament

 It is not only the mechanism of Lokpal which finds mention in the Constitution but other important features like the setting up of an All India Judicial Commission on the patterns of UPSC (Article 312), etc, are also there. Why a certain issue (corruption) becomes a matter of life and death and other equally relevant issues (Article 312, etc) are marginalized are political moves and are governed squarely by class/caste interests.

Obviously, corruption is a grave problem. But corruption is also an empty signifier and its meaning is fixed and produced through the hegemonic struggle. From the vantage point of dalit-bahujan politics the first task would be to contest Anna's articulation of corruption and then to indicate its superficiality and class/caste character. Then a counter-hegemonic bahujan populist movement can be launched that focuses on systemic reforms in a more substantive manner.

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Jan Lokpal or Janvirodhi Lokpal?

By People for Constitution, Democracy and Human Rights (PCDHR, Nagpur)

Recent stir by Anna Hazare (Original name unknown/ Education unknown) & Co. for an Ombudsman for corruption in the name of Jan Lokpal is an 'extra-constitutional method', bypassing the Parliamentary process which is at the heart of Constitutional Democracy which 'We the People' of India have adopted.

Secondly the demand in their version of Lokpal, Jan Lokpal, to bring the Judiciary and Members of Parliament under the ambit of anti-corruption law is anti-Constitutional. This will make the Lokpal superior to the parliament & judiciary and snatch the sovereignty of the people of India which is exercised through elected representatives and judicial exercise to protect the Constitution.

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No Way But Onwards-The Anna Hazare Context

by Ashok Yadav 

"No way but onwards" was the title of a chapter I had read in English coursebook of Class XI which taught that problems arising out of applications of science and technology cannot be solved by bypassing them but on the contrary by more and more engagement with and application of the same. Likewise the problems that have arisen in India in an environment of parliamentary democracy can only be solved by more and more democracy, social justice, social reforms, more institutional reforms etc. The Anna Hazare method of taking on corruption is to set up a super body and legislation called Jan Lokpal bill which will oversee prime minister, higher judiciary, cabinet ministers, MPs etc like an eagle perched on a high rise building.

The Anna Hazare method to combat corruption is not to engage with systemic failures and distortions, devise and explore ways and means to correct the distortions and effect the necessary reforms to arrest the failures. The formation of a super body and legislation called Jan Lokpal is to bypass parliamentary democratic process. The supporters of the Jan Lokpal bill argue that parliament, judiciary and executives have all become corrupt, so India needs to have an omnipotent Lokpal to prevent and cure corruption.

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Caught in a Traffic jam: Liberation in Malayalam cinema

 

Rupesh Kumar

The Malayalam movie 'Traffic' has the actor Sreenivasan essaying complex roles; narrator, convict and the hero. I find it significant to analyze his role transformations and examine the explicit and implicit messages being conveyed in the movie as a reflection of Malayali society. 


The Narrator         traffic malayalamWhy was Sreenivasan chosen to be the 'philosophical' narrator in ‘Traffic’? Perhaps, as a part of the ongoing image building exercise of the Brahmanical hegemony in Malayalam cinema and cultural spectrum to construct him into a reference point as 'the' satirical intellectual. How does he get this image? When we closely look at the characters/scripting/directorial efforts of Sreenivasan, through his thirty year long film career, there is a clear and consistent brahmanical narrative that disparages the body, mind and culture of dalit bahujan. His characters animating the black/dalit body languages were either failures, fools or cowards. His scripts were usually aimed at ‘killing’ dalit bahujans on screen. In popular culture he is celebrated as Kerala's ‘Charlie Chaplin’ and a media savvy intellectual. One who can simultaneously critique and promote Malayalam cinema and its fraternity by playing to the gallery via numerous interviews, reviews, criticisms and television programs. 

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Aarakshan: Expression with Reservation

by Bobby Kunhu

I have not watched Aarakshan.THAVD_AARAKSHAN_754271f_copy

I am an unapologetic advocate of free speech.

And I generally do not like writing about what I do not know.

But then this piece is not about Aarakshan, but about dominant discussions about the movie from newsroom discussions to (English) newspaper headlines. And most of the discussants had not watched the movie either.

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The angry young man wasn't an outcaste

 

Kuffir

'I am not a believer in the caste system' says Amitabh Bachchan. This is not the first time that he has repudiated caste. He had spoken out against the caste census earlier when he said his caste was 'Indian'. It is another matter that the Kayasthas aren't willing to let go of him.

Amitabh-Bachchan-Wallpapers-05Has the 'angry young man' mellowed down? Wasn't he the rebel who consistently fought against injustice and exploitation from his earliest films? One could be accused of conflating the two, his screen persona and his real life personality, and trying to make the latter, reality, to stand up for the former, fiction. But this article tries to argue that there isn't much difference between the angry young man of a few decades ago and the seemingly mellow old man, the real Bachchan of now. Both stand for a conservative social order, for caste.

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The media and violence against women in 'Maya's UP'

 

Bhanu Pratap Singh

[Why is every crime in Uttar Pradesh reported as happening in 'Maya's U.P', while similar incidents in other states are not publicized as happening in 'Sheila's Delhi' or 'Reddy's AP'? This article discusses the sordid casteist politics behind the media's consistent negative coverage of 'Maya's UP', and the Congress and other brahminical parties' frequent and melodramatic public displays of concern for the marginalized sections in the state- Round Table India

mayawati00111222121

In recent months there has been a sudden increase in news reports concerned with violence on women, particularly rape, this increased reporting is a welcome trend. Though not too surprised at the regular occurrence, I was curious how mainstream media finally found it important enough to deploy more of its resources to gather and disseminate news about this aspect of Indian society. I also noticed a peculiar trend: almost all the articles were reporting crimes only from the state of Uttar Pradesh. This trend was uniformly reflected in all the major mainstream media outlets and started appearing in the Western media too. Dalit activists have for so long decried the lack of media attention and sensitivity in reporting crimes on dalit women, who experience violence routinely as a result of the caste heirarchy, and now suddenly these news reports were front page stories. What brought about this change of heart?

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India “shit hole” and Ganga a “junkyard”

 

Pardeep Attri

Recently, an Australian radio host, Kyle Sandiland called India a “shit hole” and Ganga a “junkyard” and Indian groups in Australia are seeking an apology from the radio station as the Indian community is quite angry with such remarks from the Australian media. I was reading this news online and there were hundreds of comments below the article and most of those comments were literally abuses hurled at Australians, Australian media, and most importantly on Australian cricket team! I was wondering what cricket has to do with the remarks of the radio host. Later on I figured out that it’s cricket that brings Indian and Australian people together and then makes them fight for almost anything!

ganga dirty

 People who are opposing the same are either ignorant or in denial. It is hard reality and Indians need to accept it --not only the Ganga, but almost all the other rivers (have you ever seen Yamuna?) are turning into drains, have been dumping spots for big industries for a long time now. Have you ever visited the Allahabad and seen the condition of Ganga? This place is called the holiest place to take bath and shed all your sins committed in this life time, but I doubt if one has ever survived no illness after taking a bath in such polluted water. A few years back The Economist reported that Hinduism’s scared river (Ganga) contains 60,000 faecal coli-form bacteria per 100 millilitres, 120 times more than what is considered safe for bathing. Ganga has eventually become the “junkyard of corpses” and there shouldn’t be any doubt about this.

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Feet of Clay: Amitav Ghosh and the Imperial Indian Gaze

-- Jason Keith Fernandes

A couple of days ago, an interview, of the part-time Goa resident author Amitav Ghosh, with Lila Azam Zanganeh for the magazine Guernica created something of a storm of outrage. Ghosh had suggested in the course of conversation, that 'one of the wonderfully liberating things about India; [is that] it lets you be exactly who you want to be.' One can see why this statement would generate a furor; a Dalit activist friend responded to this particular line by saying 'say this to a Dalit, dear writer'. How can one forget that in various parts of India, on a daily basis, people (and not just Dalits) are not allowed to be who they want to be. They are not allowed to marry who they want, or wear the clothes that they would like, nor live where they want. In very many of these cases, when these people dare to be who they want to be, they are killed.

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On Jha’s Suicide Quote

-- Prabin Dhangada Majhi

[ Prabin's article is a response to senior journalist and editor Prem Shankar Jha's comments in a 2007 CNBC discussion on reservations. The comments resurfaced again in online discussions over suicides of Dalit students in India's elite educational institutions, recently. You'll find some of Jha's comments reproduced here . And you'll find more information on the suicides of Dalit students here -- Round Table India]  

Someone, who has never been uncomfortable for decades in the absence of certain sections of society, in the profession that claims to speak for everyone, judges everyone including those who are absent, must be having strange feelings about the all-too-recent hullabaloo about representations and reservations. I 'd not call that xenophobia.

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Notes and beats of misrepresentation in Malayalam films

by Rupesh Kumar

Indian films mass mediate stereotypical images of marginalized communities like dalits and adivasis; something that is rarely challenged by anyone. The producers are almost invariably savarna/dominant caste males. The candid display of the film makers' enormous illiteracy about the history, culture and politics of adivasi and dalits cannot be countered with the same tools, as film makers from the marginalized communities are only now beginning to get a foothold in this field. Finding ways and means to challenge popular culture's devastating impact of this endless reproduction of humiliating and ignorant portrayals is therefore an urgent task. One possibility is to critique the portrayals, as consumers of films. This can bring into public conversations the topic of mass produced representational history of marginalized Indians, which is often just plain wrong.

In the first of the series, I will set the tone for such articles by randomly sampling a few Malayalam film songs.

Read more...

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