Manipal, Aug 21, 2017: Delivering a special lecture on; “The story of rural India in digital age”, at Manipal on August 20, Sunday, Journalist and Magsaysay award winner P. Sainath, pointedly stated that the media in the country was hardly covering issues related to rural India. The lecture was organised as part of the endowment lecture series “Talluru Nudimale – 2017” by the Tallur Family Trust.
Founder Editor of the People’s Archive of Rural India, Sainath said that the front page of average national dailies dedicated space of just 0.67% to stories of rural India. This was an average of five years. This meant that 69% of the population was marginalised in the media. This also meant that there was an ill-informed society. Rural India is incredibly complex having 833 million people speaking over 718 different languages, he said and added that six of those languages were being spoken by 50 million people and three languages were spoken by over 80 million people, while one language was spoken by 500 million people. Inequalities in India had grown faster in the last 20 years than in any other country in the world. Some of the finest skills in the country were dying. About 255 Indian languages died in the past 50 years.
The Skills Development Project was taking the weavers of Kanjeevaram, one of the greatest traditions in Indian history, and was making them autorickshaw drivers. The Tamil weavers had given up. Now, it was Padmashalis from Telangana who are doing the work of weaving. A giant de-skilling was taking place in rural India. Millions of children were entering schools, where they could not own textbooks. But the newspapers, magazines and television channels were silent on it. Even the education sector was getting commercialised and privatised. The high-rung IIMs were charging Rs. 22 lakh as fees. The low-rung IIMs were charging Rs. 10 lakh and above.
He said that the problem with journalism is that it is controlled by the narrow class and caste structure. The people excluded from media should be able to tell their own stories. Citing an incident, he said it is peculiar crime that the person from North-East is beaten up in Delhi or harassed in Bengaluru just because they had chinky features.
Though there were only a few freedom fighters living now, the media had not bothered to take their opinion on the freedom movement during the 70th Independence Day. Instead, one of the newspapers had taken the views of CEOs of big companies and Bollywood celebrities on it, he said. Journo Sainath released “Nunnanabetta”, a collection of articles written by Rajaram Tallur.
G.N. Mohan and Nagesh Hegde, journalists, M.S. Sriram, writer and economist, Narayana A., Professor, Azim Premji University, gave their responses on the lecture. P Sainath said that rural India is the most complex part of land on Earth.