Must Read : They also served who are not seen at the Jantar mantar media

Vidya Bhushan Rawat at deekshabhoomi
Vidya Bhushan Rawat

It is not difficult to speak about the state of media particularly the electronic one in India today. If Lal Krishna Advani 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 bhaktas 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 don’t 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 matters 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 blow. 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 can’t agree on every
disagreement. What kind of ‘agreement’ will you have in ‘disagreeing’ of someone
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 someone.

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 bhaktas and then it became 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 somebody is giving a license.

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 bhaktas 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 in-depth pieces of
ideas.

I have seen
www.Countercurrents.org started by Binu Mathew working so hard to bring this
out facing his own financial crisis. We saw, Sam Kaleen Teesari Duniya
in Hindi started by Shri Anand Swaroop Verma, papers like Hastakshep.com, 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 Rajasekar, and I would call him legendary
journalist, who started Dalit Voice in Bangalore. 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 can’t 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, Ambedkarite
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 marginalized
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 cannot
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 realized that their ‘progressive’
‘liberal’ thoughts could not go beyond the ‘interests’ of 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 builds 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 ‘seculars’ heroes
writing columns there so it is not a sudden thing that has happened in India.
The war was against the assertion of the marginalized communities and Mandal
unleashed that therefore V P Singh became the most hated man which even the
secular journalists don’t 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 don’t judge if we don’t congratulate an individual or the
other. Don’t count us whether we are your side or other side. It’s great that
people get awards and everything, but at the end of the day don’t 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 don’t 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 Niranjan 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 house. It is a fact that your brand helps your
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

September 13th, 2019

Vidya Bhushan Rawat at deekshabhoomi
Vidya Bhushan Rawat

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