The Caste Bluff and News Media – India Elections 2014

By: Amit Bhushan Date: 3
rd
May 2014

As India enters into the last phase of Elections 2014, renewed vigour is observed amongst the
candidates and parties in fray to reiterate the Caste and Religious identity of the voter segments with
some of the mainline news channels running making repeated presentations to etch the same in
memory of media consumers. This is because few consumers have ever questioned them that why do
not they ever run programs on comparatives of Liberal society (i.e. free of religious and caste bias) vs. a
Traditional society on chosen parameter of Human development Index. Perhaps such media groups do
not want to spend an iota of their dime to educate public of the possibilities on this count as such
programs would get any sponsorships, normal or political. However, reiteration of the old classics of
caste and religious identity has excellent rewards for media and journos, something they loathe to
admit.
So strong is the network that even the new preachers of politics fall prey to this trap and start visualizing
the caste groups without waiting to check that if the people are able to draw their rations on time, or if
the farmers do not have to pay a premium for subsidized fertilizer in season when demand in the locality
is more. It can further be checked about status primary health center and schools. Instead what we
witness is bogus debates on which caste group is with which Neta and this is irrespective whether the
news sourced is from urban or rural areas. It would be interesting point to ask the reporter to prove the
authenticity of their claim because merely having comments of some untrustworthy Chutbhaiyas cannot
be deemed as News which should be thirsted on people without any cautionary statements.
Perhaps it’s time that we take on this media ritual about our elections, where they can freely gloat
about caste/religion combine being in favour of certain party or candidate without ascertaining facts
beyond doubts. We have already witnessed, how scattered, the votes or various communities are, and
any lords of the past is not able to claim control over any of the so perceived votebanks anymore. So,
why should media not be pushed to update and be current? This push cannot come from politicians who
have vested interests in managing the social expectations in a particular way, however a push from
consumer groups to encourage reporting in media in a consumer friendly manner is not something too
big to ask for. With ‘On road Tinkus’ on Web competing with the established channels and AC Nielsens’
of the world in this election, it is already become a matter of regime change and a break from the past.
Guess a bit more would not be too much askance.