On reading the article “Media coverage of Dalit issues in Tamil Nadu” (Online and off line, June 14), one is left wondering about the misplaced priorities of the media. The Readers' Editor is right in saying that the complacency is “mainly because the moment the Republican Constitution declared that untouchability was abolished across India, the media, civil society and the political establishment began to believe that the problems concerning this section of the people have been resolved once for all.”
His analysis of the Madras High Court judgment on the Panchami lands is an eye-opener. The service of J.H.A. Tremenheere, Collector of Chingleput, has been well recorded in Dialogue and History: Constructing South India by Eugene F. Irschik and From Agricultural Bondage to plantation contract: A continuity of experience in Southern India by Barbara Evans. As the RE rightly points out, the recent judgment has not attracted the attention it deserves in the media.
Atrocities against Dalits are often dismissed as “stray incidents” and any assertive mobilisation by the oppressed sections is termed a “threat” to peaceful living by vested interests. In this backdrop, it was heartening to go through the Readers' Editor column in The Hindu.
The Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front in Pudukottai talks of many areas of discrimination of Dalits and calls for their empowerment. Surely, the role of the media is of greater significance in the oppressed sections' struggle for justice.