Archive for December 16th, 2009

Clever Reporting : Chhattisgarh tribals foil march by ‘outsiders’

16 December 2009
Medium is the message. News that abuses reader’s trust.
I really applauded in my mind the dubious skills of Suchandana Gupta of Times News Network (Times of India) that were on display in the news item entitled “Chhattisgarh tribals foil march by ‘outsiders”. Had it been a column that expressed her opinion, she is entitled to it. But when ‘highly biased views’ start masquerading as news-report it is time to sit up & take notice. When the protagonist displays finesse in cleverly mixing half truths with unfound inferences to create an extremely suggestive narrative, it is a rude jolt to the assumed impartiality in reporting of media. That it passes editorial muster clearly reveals the proprietor’s position on the issue and his directives to the editorial staff. A closer look at the subterfuge :
Over 8,000 tribals gathered under the banner of the recently formed Maa Danteshwari Adivasi Swabhiman Manch (MDASM) and raised slogans asking the activists to leave them alone…. Monday’s blockade marked the emergence of a new anti-outsider sentiment among the tribals post-Salwa Judum — the state-sponsored anti-Maoist campaign that allows villagers to arm themselves”.
New MDASM that displays new anti-outsider sentiment gives an impression that this is a spontaneous outpouring of new consciousness that has risen spontaneously among the tribes people. ‘Allowing villagers to arm themselves’ is termed as a state sponsored campaign called Salwa Judum making it look like voluntary work. MDASM rally was addressed by senior leaders of BJP – Vijay Tiwari, Congress (Pradesh Congress Committee) member – Avdesh Gautam and Salwa Judum leaders including Chhabindra Karma, son of Mahendra Karma – a notorious Salwa Judum Supremo, finds no mention. MDASM may be a new bottle, but the wine in it is as old as 2005 when Salwa Judum was founded. Congress and BJP may be sworn enemies on Liberhans Commission report or Anti-Sikh riots, but in Chhattisgarh one can’t tell them apart in gunning for tribal lands.
Salwa Judum consists of those tribals who have been provided inducements to have lands inhabited by their Adivasi brethren since time immemorial vacated for handing over unencumbered to mining interests. Some of these ‘Sarkari Tribals’ have been appointed as ‘Special Police Officers’ (SPOs), who are law unto themselves and have shown extreme brutality in carrying out the diktats of their masters. What Himanshu Kumar and Vanvasi Chetna Ashram are saying is that tribals are caught in the crossfire between Maoists one hand and Salwa Judum & security forces on the other.
Although Monday’s protest wasn’t part of Salwa Judum, the strong anti-outsider sentiment lent itself to a perception that the tribals are now becoming wary of ‘pro-MaoistNGOs”.
The propositions run like this => It is implied that Tribals = MDASM/ MDASM=Tribals. (like the 70s infamous slogan, India is Indira, Indira is India).Tribals are wary of => “pro-maoists” NGOs. Tribals are opposing => VCA (sponsored padayaatraa). Therefore, VCA = “pro-maoists” NGO. QED [Quod Erat Demonstrandum – which is what was to be demonstrated].
Forgotten is the fact that VCA has been crying hoarse that it is the criminal neglect before and criminal greed now that is driving tribals into the arms of Maoists, who are proposing to be their saviours. Stop the Land Grab and Start Genuine development schemes going along with provisioning of rations, health care, education etc. and the Maoists movement will die as if starved of oxygen. In fact, it is Repression & deprivation of tribals that is acting as oxygen to Maoists movement.
One last inference is : Only MDASM (=Salwa Judum+BJP+Congress) is an insider and anyone else who talks of sufferings of tribals at the hands of security forces & SPOs (cadres of MDASM = Salwa Judum+BJP+Congress) are outsiders. VCA, which has been operating in Dantewada since 1992, has suddenly become an ‘outsider’. It is same VCA, in whose Ashram government installed a hand pump, that became an outcast when it couldn’t turn a Nelson’ eye to the goings on since 2005, became vocal and had its offices illegally bulldozed by the same government in May 2009.
In the age of consumerism even news comes packaged & branded. The consumers of news should heed the warning given to all buyers : Caveat Emptor – buyer be aware.