This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Abhishek Jha. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

With 71% Jobs Held By Hindu Upper Caste Men, Is The Media Free From Bias?

More from Abhishek Jha

By Abhishek Jha:

Lokmat, the largest selling newspaper in Marathi, recently carried a front page piece that opposed reservation, in relation to the Patel agitation. Soon after there was a peaceful march in Nagpur where the newspaper was denounced, copies of it burnt, and subscriptions cancelled. The very next day, the newspaper announced on its front page that it was not opposed to reservation. In a similar incident from across the globe, a viral video from the Baltimore agitation, earlier this year, shows Geraldo Rivera of Fox News being confronted for its selective coverage of news from Baltimore.

Image source:
Image source:

Let’s not assume that media is outside the globe,” Paul Divakar, convener at National Campaign On Dalit Human Rights, said on Saturday at the Press Club of India. He was speaking at a public meeting organised in memory of Nagaraju Koppula, ‘Addressing Casteism and Discrimination In Indian Media’. Nagaraju’s death has once again brought the question of casteism in media to the fore, which was first brought to light by B.N. Uniyal with his piece in The Pioneer in 1996. Anil Chamadia, moderating the meeting, said that Nagaraju’s case shows us that Dalits continue to be discriminated against in media, despite their talent, and the meeting sought to bring a continuity to this discourse.

However, it is not surprising that this questioning itself would be seen with suspicion and contempt. Uniyal, in his 1996 piece, recorded several such counter questions, one of them reads: “Do you mean to say the Press is really Manuwadi as Kansi Ram says? Do you think any of us writes or reports as a Brahmin journalist, or as a Kayastha or a Jain journalist?” And in 2015, preempting such comments, Paul Divakar noted that during the tsunami and the earthquake in Gujarat, Dalits had to be flown in to clear the carcasses, they were denied shelter in the makeshift tents, and compensation was denied to them because they were not landowners, indicating that there’s been no change in the casteist structure of the Indian society. If caste operates even in the times of natural disasters, the burden of proof then must lie on the media and not those who question its casteist nature; and as statistics from previous studies were quoted during the meeting, there remained no doubt that the media must be subjected to an examination of casteism inherent in it.

Dilip C. Mandal, former Managing Editor of India Today, brought to notice that a national commission in USA, constituted to look into the causes and prevention of violence in 1968, had at least identified the country’s press as ‘white press’ and called it as such at least four times in the report. While we refuse to accept this in the case of Indian media, which he said could easily be called hindu-male-upper-caste press. He then reminded everyone present, of the study carried out by Anil Chamadia, Yogendra Yadav, and Jitendra Kumar in 2006 that showed that Hindu upper caste men, who form only 8% of the country’s population, hold 71% of the top jobs in national media. While casteism permeates newsrooms in subtle manners- as the case of Nagaraju shows- he expressed surprise at the fact that despite their major readership coming from avarna readers, newspapers continue to write strongly against reservation. “What good are journalists if they don’t speak up during incidents like Babri Masjid, Mandal agitation and caste census?” he asked. To add to that, one might ask why the Cobrapost documentary, on the massacre of Dalits in Bihar, has failed to make it to regular front page news and prime time television despite elections being due in the state.

This representation is important because there are experiences that are specific to Dalits and Adivasis that a member of the upper caste can hardly relate to. Is it surprising that a debate on reservation among upper castes starts with complete amnesia about the Poona Pact and ignorance of regular reports of SC/ST students being denied RTE, being segregated in schools, being beaten up for clearing IIT-JEE? Bhasha Singh, another journalist on the panel, narrated that in a recent meeting with Soni Sori, Sori told her that although a lot has been written about her, she doesn’t hear her voice in those stories. While Paranjoy Guha urged everyone to use everyday technology and smartphones to report stories that the mainstream ignores, Singh was of the opinion that the mainstream needs to be targeted to alter the discourse in the nation. What Singh says surmises that change can’t come only by using alternative methodology, it needs to come by dismantling the hegemony of the mainstream as well.

Satyendra Murli, a journalist from Doordarshan, also highlighted that government owned media weren’t immune to discrimination either, despite constitutional provisions. It is on these lines that a charter of demands was presented by the panel members. In specific, these demands from the state, the media, and civil society organisations are aimed at ending discrimination in the media. The organisers also announced an annual award for Dalit and Adivasi journalists. As Paul Divakar noted in the meeting, “While media is not part of the state, it is akin to state“, and it must, therefore, be held accountable too.

You must be to comment.
  1. DalitFromIITIIM

    Chetan bhagat is idiot. In the garb of seeing merit in numbers written on a sheet of paper he is in turn suggesting to use it (marks) as a exclusionary mechanism, nothing different that using vedas and so called sacred texts to exclude dalits. How will he make sure that dalits don't end up getting lower marks with all things being same just so that you make sure they are excluded in every elite college and upper castes gaining higher marks everytime due to inherent biases in minds of people like him?

  2. Ragehulke Arya

    it’s very right and nobody bothered about this.when you ask question, you are casuist.beat wishes for raising this issue.

More from Abhishek Jha

Similar Posts

By Rapti Mukherjee

By varun pratap

By Rohit Prashar

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below