Isn’t Lack of Tribal Voices in Indian Media a Cause of Concern?

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In the first week of February, I got an opportunity to attend the interactive sessions of one of the top Indian political leaders, the Congress Party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.  I was given access to these high-profiles events, held in Ranchi, Jharkhand arranged by Congress Party, because of the fact that I have been actively working with the Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee. Also, perhaps because I had campaigned extensively for the said political party, during the last assembly election, in the Sisai Vidhan Sabha constituency, Gumla District as Congress Party ended up on a winning side.

It was a bitter-sweet victory.

We felt good because our team had tasted success in our maiden political campaign.

On the other hand, the lack of development in semi-urban and rural areas was a bitter pill to swallow for us.

During my extensive campaign in the assembly constituency with the Candidate, I met people from all walks of life. The fact was that the most of our voters live in a Naxal dominated areas, in villages, far away from the urban areas. Needless to say that most of our rural constituents neither enjoy the media spotlights nor the fruits of economic development. Their real life stories remain unheard.

After, the election was over, I had two options, viz., first was to continue in the political arena and the second was to do something different and wear a different cap. I decided to walk away from the life in active politics.

I opted for option number two.

I started to write. Put my thoughts on papers, even commenced blogging.

I even wrote a fictional novel on the tales of the people living and somehow surviving in India’s much-dreaded Red-Corridor. At present, this manuscript is doing the rounds of the publishers. Waiting to get the voices of less-heard people was proving to be tough.

Was it because of the proverbial invisible glass-ceilings prevalent all across us? We didn’t know. But we had to do something about it.

So, I and couple of my friends decided to launch “FOCUS magazine”, a blogging platform for all Jharkhandi people who want to voice their opinion with the world. It has been bumpy journey so far. But we carried on, regardless. Hoping that things shall change.

Now, let’s cut back to the present.

On February 7, 2014, I was present at the “Your Voice-Our Pledge” programme, an interactive session held by Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi with the Tribal (Adivasi) ladies belonging to all strata of our society.

What was really heartening that all the Tribal Ladies spoke eloquently about the harsh realities that they face in their lives. Almost all the issues, that ranged from corruption, price-rise, education, jobs, land-issues, absence of basic infrastructure, etc. were raised in a very sensible manner. For most of them, who had traveled a long distance from their villages, it was wonderful to be heard and really listened to by the top political leader (s).

Their voices were being heard.

Rahul Gandhi with Tribal Ladies in Ranchi
Rahul Gandhi with Tribal Ladies in Ranchi

In the evening, I also attended the interactive session held by Rahul Gandhi with the Editors of leading print and electronic media of Jharkhand state. It was a good meeting, where state and national issues were discussed freely.

But, one issue kept bothering me.

It was a complete lack of “Tribal” (Adivasi) voice in the upper echelons of our traditional media fraternity; not even in Jharkhand, a state with a size-able tribal population and burgeoning media presence. It is disturbing reality, to say the least.

No wonder, most often in media, the grave issues confronting the local tribal population in Jharkhand either get dumped far-far away from front-page’s headlines, or they get misrepresented by the people, who do not really understand and appreciate the Tribal community.

If one has to take a deep look at India media, then one would find that almost all the disadvantage communities have good representatives (reporters, correspondence, columnists, editors, etc.) in the Indian media, except perhaps the Tribal community. Now, the big question arises, can we do something to usher in the change. I think the answer is affirmative.

So, now Team FOCUS magazine is inviting all Jharkhandis, especially Tribal People to voice their opinions through our e-magazine platform. Surely, the onus lies on the shoulders of educated people of Jharkhand state, especially those belonging to Tribal communities to hear, to speak, to write, to share and to highlight the plethora of issues that confronts all of them.

It’s a small step in a right direction.

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Sameer Bhagat

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Social-Activist. Author of SALVAGING ADIDWEEP.


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