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Telugu newspapers and Dalit issues: a study in telangana state


News papers occupied a significant place in the Indian media history. They play a
vital role to bring the world around them to readers’ attention. Due to the
increasing literacy, newspaper industry in India is flourishing. However, to
understand the news coverage, one should understand the social setup in which the news
papers operate. The prevailing discrimination against certain groups in the Indian society
is also reflected in media coverage.

India is the second most populous country and the largest democracy with the longest
written constitution. The Constitution clearly mandates that India should serve as a
welfare state to uplift the marginalized of the society, who suffered discrimination for
centuries on end. It advised the executive, legislative, and judiciary to implement
schemes of positive discrimination for the welfare of the oppressed. As the oppression
and discrimination in the Indian society still exists and the three pillars of our State
unable to create a level-playing field for everyone, the media, which is our fourth pillar or
fourth estate, should take up the mantle of lending voice to the oppressed.

Far from strengthening the cause of the downtrodden in the society, the Indian media
demonstrates a sort of bias which prevents the news belonging to marginalized being
reported widely. The absence of weaker sections in the media can be seen as a prime
reason for very poor reportage on issues pertaining to the downtrodden. The
managements of the media outlets play a vital role in reproducing and perpetuating age-
old caste-based societal structures even in media. This has been the case for almost last
70 years.

Caste-based discrimination has been integral part of the Indian society for last 2000
years. According to Hindu religious canons, caste is based upon on occupations carried
out by different sections in the society. Thus, these castes called Chaturvarnas (Chatur =
Four, Varna = Caste). Accordingly, Brahmins who are placed at the top of the caste
pyramid are priests and scholars. The second in the hierarchy are Kshyatriyas who are
warriors; then comes Vaishayas who are merchant community; and Shudras are laborers.
Besides these four varnas, there is another section of society who are considered
outcastes and untouchables: Ati Shudras or more widely knew as Dalits.
These Dalits are debarred from accessing public resources. This caste hierarchy is strong
in all fields, particularly in socio-cultural, political, and economic spheres. Thus those
belonging to upper castes earn an undue advantage in all the fields. On the other hand, the
Dalits are socially agonized in different ways since time immemorial. Even to this date,
the atrocities against Dalits continue to occur, showing no sign of improvement in the

Critical examination of the English media, primarily the nation-wide newspapers,

television and radio channels, cater less space or duration to issues pertaining to Dalits. It
is evident that any news relating to Dalits covered in the media would either be some
atrocity against them which caught the nation’s imagination or some agitation led by
Dalit groups for their rights and caused a major sensation across the country.

Pointing out the deeply entrenched bias against the Dalit community, renowned journalist
Siddharth Varadarajan wrote in the Hindu that media across the country gave widespread
coverage to anti reservation protests carried out in the All India Institute of Medical
Sciences (AIIMS), while ignoring pro-reservation rallies taken out by some medicos
under the banner of “Medicos Forum for Equal Opportunities”. The pro-reservation
rallies were covered by only handful of media outlets, while media largely stayed away
from the protests for reservation.

The situation of Telugu media is no different. On one hand there is a boom in the
circulation figures, while on the other hand there is a bias against the Dalits. TheDalits
who comprise of 12 per cent in Telangana population is largely ignored as like any other
national media house, there is little involvement of Dalits in ownership, news gathering,
and news compilation.

This kind of bias is reflected in coverage of Karamchedu, Chunduru, and Vempeta where
Dalits were brutally attacked by upper castes. Although Telugu media houses reported
these incients, the coverage was largely tokenistic, and there was a concerted effort to
save the upper castes who were accused. The voices of Dalits were muzzled and
remained unheard.

Two popular newspapers – Eenadu and Andhra Jyothi – covered Karamchedu (July 17,
1985) and Chunduru (August 6, 1991) in a very brief and simple manner as a mere attack.
It was only Udayam newspaper which covered those incidents as attack on Dalits. The
Udayam newspaper covered Karamchedu incident with a strong headline – ““Puli
champina lady netturu” – to highlight the atrocity committed against the Dalits.
Need for the study:
As part of this study, the researcher will carry out how much space Dalits are supposed to
get as per their population in Telangana. Besides, an attempt will be made to understand
the socioeconomic conditions of Dalits in Telangana by using various development
indicators. This data will be used to understand how deprivation of Dalits is being
covered in Telugu media.

That upper castes’ domination in Indian media is clearly visible. However there were
hardly any attempts made to understand this deprivation and discrimination of Dalits by
the Indian media. There is lot of research carried out in the West about racism, women
representation, and representation of different ethnic communities in the media. But there
hasn’t been any such notable work in India relating to media democracy and exclusion in
media. Against this backdrop, this research attempts to focus in the direction of media
democracy, representation of Dalit journalists, and coverage of Dalit issues in Telugu

1. To understand the historical approach of telugu print media in addressing Dalit
2. To study the coverage of Dalits socio culture, economic and political issues in
telugu print media.
3. To study of discrimination towards Dalit journalists in telugu print media.

Research methodology:
The study will be carried out using both primary and secondary data. The primary data
will be gathered in news papers coverage on the issues from june-02-2014 to May-31-
2018. And will be interview from Dalit journalists – respondents - who are in the telugu
print media. The data will be collected through a questionnaire. The sources of secondary
data include available official published data and article published under various columns
in newspapers, books and magazines.

The research will focus on the journalists and coverage of issues relating to Dalits in
regional main stream media. The research will also include interviews of renowned
telugu journalists working in telangana. Top circulation telugu dailies eenadu and
namaste telangana will be selected for the research purpose
Review of literature:

Dr B.R. Ambedkar was critical of Indian media and how it reflected the Indian
societal caste hierarchy in its own set up too. He pointed out that ‘Hindu’ press
willfully suppressed the views of Dalits so as to curtail the growth of Dalit
movement in India.

The bias and discrimination of Indian media towards was first established by a
systematic study conducted by Kenneth Cooper’s research for his Washington Post
article titled “The search for a Dalit journalist in India’’.

Similarly, Robin Jeffrey’s article “[Not] being there: Dalits and India’s
newspapers” too point out nearly total absence of India’s marginalized community
in the newspapers as journalists across the country.

❖ Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, ‘Annihilation of Caste’,
❖ Dr. B.R Ambedkar , ‘plea to a foreigner ‘ chapter IX, What congress and Gandhi
have done to untouchables, Vo19. Writings and Speeches, 1945.
❖ Kenneth Cooper- “The Washington Post’’
❖ “[NOT] Being there” essay from Robin Jeffrey.
❖ Chandra bhan Prasad, Dalit diary 1999-2003.
❖ Varadarajan, Siddarth, “Caste Matters in the Indian Media”, the Hindu, 23, June

❖ Ghanshyam sha (Edited), Gail Omvedt, ‘ Social movements and the State’, p:294,
❖ B.P. Mahesh Chandra Guru, ‘Studies in Ambedkar’, p: 295, 298, and 1995.
❖ The Janatha, p, 3, 30 January, 1932, December, 1938.
❖ Dhanjay keer, ‘Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar: Life and Mission’, p: 38, 2009.

❖ “Dalit journalism” (telugu) written by ABK Prasad.

1. Introduction.

2. Review of literature.

3. Research methodology.

4. Historical approach of telugu print media in addressing Dalit issues.

5. Coverage of Dalits socio, economic , cultural and political issues in telugu print media.

6. Representation of Dalit journalists in telugu print media

7. Findings/Conclusion.

8. Bibliography.