Posts Tagged ‘Harijan’

A journalist, a newspaper founder, and a martyr

31 January 2012

***

Gopalkrishna Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma, in the Hindustan Times:

“The immortals, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev had just attained martyrdom on the gallows of the British Raj. The country was astir, angry and aspiring to acts of supreme courage for the country’s liberation.

“Yet another kind of martyrdom, no less demanding, no less needed, was just round the corner. And its site was not the altar of freedom but the public square of humanity.

“The most savage communal violence had engulfed Kanpur’s mixed mohallas. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, teacher, journalist, founder of The Pratap and president of the UP Congress Committee in 1929, did not phone the police. He did not go to newspaper offices to fulminate against communalism. He did not lapse into prayer, wailing or rhetoric. He did just what Gandhi wanted satyagrahis to do in communally-charged situations.

“Over four days, Vidyarthi saved the lives of several hundreds of Hindus and Muslims from the blind fury of murderous hordes. On March 25, his biographer Anandi Prasad Mathur tells us, when Vidyarthi heard of violence having erupted in Maida Bazar, he left home for the locality, despite pleadings from his wife. ‘You fret for nothing,’ Vidyarthi told her, ‘I have not displeased any community, no one will harm me… God will help me…’

“A man running for his life asked Vidyarthi to save some people who were hiding nearby. Not for the first time that day Vidyarthi was in the direct line of death. Someone tried to save him by pulling him to a side gully. ‘Why are you dragging me?’ Vidyarthi said, ‘If these people’s anger is to be quenched by my blood, so be it…’

“And then blow upon blow raining on him, sharp instruments pierced his thin frame. Gandhi wrote in Young India: “The death of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi is one to be envied by us all… Let this noble example stimulate us all to similar effort should occasion arise again.”

Image: courtesy Hindustan Times

Read the full article: Incidentally, we must not forget

Also read: Thus spake the editor-in-chief of the Harijan

What a newspaper editor told Mahatma Gandhi

James W. Michaels: the man who reported Gandhi‘s death

And thus spake the Editor-in-Chief of ‘Harijan’

25 October 2010

The veteran editor, columnist, author and activist, Kuldip Nayar, recounting a seminar held recently in Thiruvananthapuram by the Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi, in The Sunday Guardian:

Mahatma Gandhi‘s is an example which every journalist must emulate. He tells us journalists that the sole aim of journalism should be service.

“In his autobiography, he says: ‘The newspaper is a great power, but just as an unchained torrent of water submerges the countryside and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy. If control is from without, it proves more poisonous than want of control. It can be profitable only when exercised from within.’

If this line of reasoning is correct—and there is no reason to challenge it—how many papers in the country would stand the test? But who would stop the useless? And should be the judge? I think that the useful and the useless must, like good and evil, go on together. The reader must make the choice. Any interference by the government would make a mockery of the freedom of the press.

“Today when editorial space is sold and where ‘paid news’ conceals falsehood and propagand, Gandhi’s advice that a newspaper is not meant to make money but is an insturment to serve the public, cannot be to the liking of those who have an eye on the balancesheet. They are not bothered with the indignation of people over the projection of celebrities and models as icons of society.

“Writing on the role of newspapers, Gandhiji said: ‘In my humble opinion, it is wrong to use a newspaper as a means of earning a living. There are certain spheres of work which are of consequence and have such bearing on public weflare that to undertake them for earning one’s livelihood would defeat the primary aim behind them.’

“When a newspaper is treated as a means of making profit, the result is likely tobe serious malpractice. It is not necessary to prove to those who have some experience in journalism that such malpractices prevail on a large scale.”

Anybody here who’s Dalit and speaks English?*

13 May 2010

The UPA government’s reported inclination to include an extra column in the 2011 census to enumerate caste, for the first time since 1931, has seen politicians and political parties close ranks, although the Union cabinet is said to have been divided on the issue.

But there has been an avalanche of criticism in the media. “A monumental travesty,” is one view in The Indian Express. “No sense in caste census,” declares the Financial Express. “Will it help reduce inequalities,” asks The Hindu. “No time to look behind,” is one view in The Telegraph.

On television, of course, it is as if the end is nigh upon us already, and they even quote the mighty Amitabh Bachchanthe son-in-law of a journalist—to bolster their view.

A similar dichotomy between the political class and the fourth estate greeted the implementation of the Mandal Commission report in 1989. And indeed when 27% reservation was announced for other backward classes in higher educational institutions in the first innings of the UPA government.

Could the media “disconnect” be because of the demographics of dominant sections of the Indian media, most of which are located in urban centres? Are there too many upper-caste, upper-class types and far too few of the other kind to understand and empathise with the logic, the dynamics, the imperative for a caste census or reservations?

In her Hindustan Times column, CNN-IBN senior editor Sagarika Ghose writes:

“In 1996 when B.N. Uniyal undertook a survey of national newspapers, he found that among 686 journalists accredited to the government, 454 were upper caste, the remaining 232 did not carry their caste names and in a random sample of 47, not a single one was a dalit.”

More recently, a 2006 survey of 300 senior journalists in 37 Hindi and English newspapers and TV stations found that “Hindu upper caste men”—who form eight per cent of the country’s population—hold 71 per cent of the top jobs in the national media.

“Dalits and Adivasis “are conspicuous by their absence among the decision- makers. Not even one of the 315 key decision-makers belonged to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes.

“If men and women are taken together, the share of upper caste Hindus or dwijas in the upper echelons of the media is 85 per cent. These castes account for 16 per cent of the national population. Brahmins alone, the survey found, hold 49 per cent of the top jobs in national journalism.

“If non-dwija forward castes like Marathas, Patels, Jats and Reddys are added, the total forward caste share stands at 88 per cent.

“In contrast, OBCs, who are estimated to constitute around 40 per cent of the population, account for an “abysmally low” four per cent of top media jobs. In the English print media, OBCs account for just one per cent of top jobs and in the Hindi print media eight per cent.”

Read the full column: Caste off those blinkers

Photograph: the front page of Harijan, the weekly English newspaper published by Mahatma Gandhi

Also read: Why are they Tamils? Why are they all Brahmins?

Just 4% of population but 7 Brahmins in Indian team?

* with apologies to Edward Behr

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