Guest Post by Faiz Ullah
The following text is a version of a text originally written for Faridabad Majdoor Samachar, a workers’ paper distributed in Faridabad, Gurgaon and Delhi. It is an attempt to speak to the concerns often expressed by workers’ about what they consider to be inadequate and unfair representation of their issues in the mainstream media
मीडिया और मज़दूर
समाज जैसे-जैसे बड़ा और जटिल होता जाता है वैसे-वैसे हमारे एक दूसरे से सम्बन्ध कमज़ोर होने लगते हैं। ऐसे में हम एक दुसरे को कैसे जानें, कैसे समझें? मीडिया के ज़रिये हम अपनी बात आगे रख सकते हैं, दूसरों की सुन सकते हैं और अपने तजुर्बों को साझा कर सकते हैं। चर्चा-बहस भी कर सकते हैं और किस तरह का समाज बनाना है उसकी एक साथ कल्पना कर सकते हैं। समाज में मीडिया की एक बड़ी भूमिका बनती है। वैसे तो मीडिया को आपकी और हमारी बातों को जगह देनी चाहिए पर आमतौर पर ऐसा होता नहीं है। हमारी बातों, हमारे मुद्दों को बड़े टीवी चैनल और अखबार हमेशा ही नज़रअंदाज़ करते रहे हैं।
Striving for plurality in Media – The promises and shortcomings of TRAI’s recommendations on media ownership: Smarika Kumar
Guest post by SMARIKA KUMAR
TRAI published a set of recommendations on issues relating to media ownership on 12 August 2014. A summary of the key points of these recommendations may be found here. But what do these recommendations imply for the freedom of speech and expression in India? This post is an attempt to contextualise TRAI’s recommendations against this question.
From No Regulation on the Business of Speech to Some Regulation on the Business of Speech
In its introductory chapter, TRAI says that the objective of its recommendations is to achieve plurality of views and opinions in media. It states:
“The objective of these recommendations is not, in any sense whatsoever, to curb the media or deprive it of its rights – that, in fact, would be a disservice to the Indian citizen – but to put in place suitable safeguards that would ensure citizens the right to obtain objective, unbiased and diverse views and opinions.” (para 1.5)
This is a remarkable move because the idea of media plurality has remained contested in the understanding of Article 19(1)(a) of our Constitution, which guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression to Indian citizens. The whole dance began in 1961 with the judgment of Sakal Newspapers v. Union of India, where the government sought to regulate the number of pages a newspaper could carry. Since such regulation would make newspaper prices of smaller newspapers comparable to big newspapers, the government argued that it would enable the smaller newspapers to secure larger circulation. One can clearly see how this was an attempt at enabling plurality in the newspaper business, so that the smaller voices are not stifled by the big voices.
‘My Heart says Yes, but the Head says No’: Economizing Politics in the Scottish Referendum: Akshaya Kumar
Guest post by AKSHAYA KUMAR
About two months ago, while walking by the roadside in Glasgow, a middle-aged man handed me out a pamphlet. In an endorsement of UKIP, the pamphlet declared ‘Our government pays GBP 55 million a day in fees to the EU’ (emphasis added). It went on to inform that in return, the EU gives ‘us’ accounts riddled with fraud, no control over ‘our’ own borders – putting pressure on our health, education and welfare services – and a super-government that makes more than 70% of ‘our’ laws. The pamphlet intrigued me a fair bit, not in the least because as an international student in the UK, I wondered if my case was a bigger or smaller burden on the UK defined thus – their UK. But who are they? One might rubbish them as a deviant community, or one might consider them a threat to yet another definition of us – the liberals or suchlike. But what intrigued me was not the neatness of these boundaries, or the speculations about how many of ‘us’ and ‘them’ there are. I was intrigued by the language of the starkly political proposition. Let us tentatively assume that in the pamphlet, ‘us’ meant the citizens of UK and it constructs an antagonistic position vis-à-vis other national citizens who are entitled to living and working within the UK. Surely the two are politically distinguishable? Or are there too many of them living next to us, so they cannot exactly be identified as such? Read more…
So Onam is here again — despite the fact that several contradictory stars above now form a malefic conjunction in the fate of poor Malayalis in Kerala. Indeed, rarely has a stranger gang dominated the starry heavens of our destiny: V M Sudheeran’s targeted gullet moralism that promises to close down a very large number of bars in Kerala and pave the way for total prohibition in the future, gangs of Hindu right wing youth and women forcing the government’s liquor outlets to close, policemen puffed up with jingoistic nationalism who hallucinate about Maoists in wake and sleep and declare social activists like Ajitha “dead”, CPM offspring who think that making foul, putrid public statements justifying murder is politics. All these are, well, rather drunk on self-righteousness and to be true, present a slightly ridiculous sight. Even the weather looks ridiculously inebriated – the sky alternates between bright sunny spells and horrid, harsh showers, crazily swinging between sunny smiles and bursts of tears. Read more…
We are disturbed by the circulars issued by the CBSE and other authorities dealing with different systems like the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Directorate of Education, Delhi, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, etc. asking schools to make arrangements to ensure that all the school children across the country listen to the Prime Minister’s address to the children in their school premises on the occasion of Teacher’s Day on September 5.
It is an extraordinary and unprecedented step in the history of school education in independent India. Not only does this order treat children as passive and captive elements who do not have a view of their own, it also violates the international convention of Child Rights which says that children have a right to form opinion and therefore they need to be asked whether they would like to be part of such an extra-school activity beyond their usual school hours.
Although the MHRD has clarified verbally that this is a voluntary activity and not binding on the schools and children, yet the written orders by the authorities are still in effect asking the schools to furnish the status report by 2nd September and remain prepared for surprise inspections in this regard. Read more…
‘Son, you outgrew my lap but never my heart’ – Fauzia Ansari in search of her son: Debangana Chatterjee
On August 14, 2013, Shivam Vij wrote in Kafila about Hamid Ansari, a young Management Studies graduate from Mumbai who crossed the border illegally to Pakistan in November 2012, to meet a young woman, and has been missing since. At the time Shivam wrote the post, there were indications that Hamid had been picked up by Pakistani security agencies.
Beena Sarwar, Pakistani human rights activist, wrote in July this year about the possibility of ‘cautious optimism’, following the directive of Peshawar High Court to Pakistan’s defence and interior ministries to provide full information about the forced disappearance of Hamid Ansari and of 25 others, who are Pakistani nationals. Her account is worth reading in full, outlining as it does, the ways in which cross border solidarities of democratic forces consistently work to soar above and also to undermine the barbed wire fences of nation-states.
DEBANGANA CHATTERJEE, a Delhi-based MA student, met Hamid’s mother a few days ago, and wrote this piece after talking to her, outlining some new developments in the case. We have retained Fauzia Ansari’s voice as far as possible in this narrative.
The story of Hamid Ansari, a 28 year old IT engineer and management studies graduate, started unfolding when I came across his mother, Fauzia Ansari at a conference on ‘Challenges to Indian Democracy’ organized in Delhi by the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace a few days ago, on August 30-31. Fauzia Ansari is a lecturer of Hindi at a college in Mumbai. Like other mothers, Fauzia says she too had vibrant dreams of her son’s bright future. But a nightmare has unfolded instead. Read more…
Guest post by CHARU GUPTA
लव जेहाद आंदोलन स्त्रियों के नाम पर सांप्रदायिक लामबंदी की एक समकालीन कोशिश है. बतौर एक इतिहासकार मैं इसकी जड़ें औपनिवेशिक अतीत में भी देखती हूँ. जब भी सांप्रदायिक तनाव और दंगों का माहौल मज़बूत हुआ है, तब-तब इस तरह के मिथक गढ़े गए हैं और उनके इर्द गिर्द प्रचार हमारे सामने आये हैं. इन प्रचारों में मुस्लिम पुरुष को विशेष रूप से एक अपहरणकर्ता के रूप में पेश किया गया है और एक ‘कामुक’ मुस्लिम की तस्वीर गढ़ी गयी है.
मैंने 1920-30 के दशकों में उत्तर प्रदेश में साम्प्रदायिकता और यौनिकता के बीच उभर रहे रिश्ते पर काम किया है. उस दौर में लव जेहाद शब्द का इस्तेमाल नहीं हुआ था लेकिन उस समय में भी कई हिंदू संगठनों — आर्य समाज, हिंदू महासभा आदि –- के एक बड़े हिस्से ने ‘मुस्लिम गुंडों’ द्वारा हिंदू महिलाओं के अपहरण और धर्म परिवर्तन की अनेकोँ कहानियां प्रचारित कीं. उन्होंने कई प्रकार के भड़काऊ और लफ्फाज़ी भरे वक्तव्य दिए जिनमें मुसलमानों द्वारा हिंदू महिलाओं पर अत्याचार और व्यभिचार की अनगिनत कहानियां गढ़ी गईं. इन वक्तव्यों का ऐसा सैलाब आया कि मुसलमानों द्वारा हिंदू महिलाओं के साथ बलात्कार, आक्रामक व्यवहार, अपहरण, बहलाना-फुसलाना, धर्मान्तरण और जबरन मुसलमान पुरुषों से हिंदू महिलाओं की शादियों की कहानियों की एक लंबी सूची बनती गई. अंतरधार्मिक विवाह, प्रेम, एक स्त्री का अपनी मर्जी से सहवास और धर्मान्तरण को भी सामूहिक रूप से अपहरण और जबरन धर्मान्तरण की श्रेणी में डाल दिया गया. Read more…