Furthering caste and casteist feelings?

You must have noticed usage of phrases like “members of one community” and “majority ommunity” when media covers sensitive topics involving communal tensions or riots. Perhaps they follow an unwritten rule, or self imposed censorship. Either way, I admire the appreciation shown for sensitive nature of these events, even though you may say that it doesn’t matter much – we all know the names of communities involved in there.

Now, on to the way media covers elections. Ever read one of those articles where they cover the constituencies in detail? Read this for example. Notice the liberal dosage of words Kurmi, Keori, Yadav, Rajput, Muslim, Bhumihar and Brahmin. Or try this one and see the free talk on Vokkaliga, Lingayata, Muslim, Maratha and Brahmin votes.

Even easier, just google for phrases like “kurmi votes”, “bhumihar votes”, “kayastha votes” – pick a caste or community and the word votes – and read some of the results for yourself.

I can’t locate all those articles on the internet, but while I was growing up in southern Bihar (now Jharkhand), believe it or not, my first lessons on how many castes we have in that state came from the newspapers. I remember those detailed and exciting press coverages of elections in mid eighties. That was when I learnt names of various castes, and acquired knowledge on caste based population patterns across the state.

So tell me now, isn’t media guilty of promoting caste-ism and caste based divisions? Why is it that their self-imposed censorship makes them use the terms “majority community” and “minority community” when covering certain sensitive events, but they opt to use and describe various castes and communities when covering the most sensitive event of them all – the elections? Why is so much hue and cry raised on mere mention of caste based census, when – come elections – all the newspapers carry almost-census like data, district by district. Doesn’t that qualify as divisive and damaging activity?

Election commission’s code of conduct says – “There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes”. Why should this code apply only to political parties? Why not include the media as well?

We all merely wish casteism goes away. Yet, so few of us question, or even identify the activities that poison impressionable minds with data and details on casteism. Agreed, put all that data up somewhere for easy reference on request. But please, I don’t want those details up in my face every other day.

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One Response

  1. […] As I mentioned here a few months ago, my first lessons on precise name/number/composition of castes we have in my state came from newspaper reports like these. […]

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