The article “Missing from the Indian newsroom” (April 9) claims that the Dalit presence in the media is almost nil citing a not very well known survey. Dalits do occupy vital positions in the media industry. Many are, however, unwilling to reveal their caste identity for obvious reasons. Only a few Dalits aspire for the showbiz world of media. Only a careful and wide scientific study can ascertain the number of Dalits who approached the media for suitable positions and the number of those rejected in spite of their proven talent.
The author's suggestions that the Editors' Guild could conduct annual census of newsroom diversity and media houses could set targets for themselves are commendable.
Many attribute the absence of Dalits in the newsroom to ‘upper' caste hegemony. It is not known what prevented Dalits from entering the media and why the elite section among them could not fill up the lacuna all these years. It is better to light a candle than blame the darkness.
The absence of Dalits in the media is conspicuous, yet no one really seems to care. But a comparison of African-Americans with Dalits is not proper because the fragmentation of Indian society is colossal and any Dalit-oriented plan to set targets to recruit them in the media would be received with scepticism. But a publication of Dalits, for Dalits will surely bring the much-needed representation for the marginalised. Ensure equality because fraternity is like chasing the chimera.
The author has taken a very small sample for his survey, that too of the English media alone. There are hundreds of vernacular print and electronic media, which have diversity in their newsrooms. While it is a fact that many Dalits are yet to make use of the benefits they are entitled to, we see thousands of Dalits competing with others today. The so-called leaders of the community do not take corrective action to ensure that the non-elite Dalits get their due.