At a time when the subaltern population of India is dreaming of a new civil society beyond traditional political boundaries, the need of the hour is a new concept of the State, democracy, and power, the bishop of the Niranom diocese Geevarghese Mar Coorilos has said.

He was delivering the G. Rajeshkumar memorial lecture on the topic ‘Media and people's agitations' at the Thiruvananthapuram Press Club on Thursday.

The media, which has the power to make or break a movement, should ask itself which face of India it is projecting. Large sections of the media projected Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement as a never-before phenomenon. The hype and the hysteria generated on this was incredible. Similar was the treatment given to the agitation by Baba Ramdev.

“But which were the faces seen associated with such movements? Middle-class intellectuals, academics, and human rights activists. Most of them belonged to the upper castes. When a team was set up to draft a bill, there was no place in it for a Dalit, for the religious minorities, and there was no woman there,” he said.

The faces commonly seen in discussions on TV channels were the same. He asked where the faces and voices of the Adivasis, their women, the Dalits, and the fishermen were. “A fresh concept of a people's movement is needed; one from the perspective of the victims, the oppressed” he said.

Conventional political parties had failed the subaltern population of India. There was nothing left in the Left politics and there was nothing right with the Right, he pointed out.

“The CPI(M) views any new type of public movement with suspicion and tries to suppress it. Chengara is a good example,” Bishop Coorilos said.

“Why are mainstream political parties afraid of, say, a Gothra Mahasabha? Why is their sense of democracy not sought to be understood? What is wrong with a decentralised notion of power? Not the World Bank's People's Planning,” he pointed out.

Tools of Marxian analysis developed mostly for Europe could not be applied as such to India. If the Left parties continued to ignore the caste question in the country, they would remain confined to Kerala and West Bengal. It was time the Left took Ambedkar seriously. It had not so far accepted his critique of Marx.

Caste inequality should be tackled alongside economic inequality, he added.