Home » Indian

Book Review: Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change

It has taken me some time to finish reading the assemblage book entitled Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change. An overly long reading list has been haunting me for the past few months, but I was slow and self-indulgent as I read and re-read many sections of this insightful book which is path breaking in many ways. First, it is a unique collection which emanated from intense thinking and collaborative action; and second, given the fairly recent rise of Indian mass media (also applicable to South Asia in general) this is quite a seminal work of its kind.

Four comrades at the School of Oriental and African Sciences (SOAS) conceived this book around a collective they called Sacred Media Cow to make sense of the rising Indian mass media and its ubiquitous nature, its articulation of a middle class vision, and how through this process Indian nationalism was being redefined.

The four editors – Somnath Batabyal, Angad Chowdhry, Meenu Gaur and Matti Pohjoen – are also contributors to this volume; and have assembled an impressive array of essays which move from mass media, news channels, to mainstream and regional cinema arriving at the rise of digital cultures of India. Through the book, we view the reimagining of India as a ‘shining’ middle class dream using the popular media lens, which are both powerful and trans-national. That is why the last essay, a poignant piece by Naresh Fernandes, The Uncomfortable Truth behind the Corporate Media’s Imagination of India closes in the various debates.

Fernandes makes an unpopular (and increasingly ‘unpatriotic’) conclusion: that despite the shining India narratives, India remains a poor, developing country with myriad problems. Using the stories of a reputed journalist P Sainath, this essay looks at the ‘other’ India which the ‘hyperreal’ media has rendered invisible to provide a more palatable vision for its key corporate target – the middle classes. The conclusion of the essay is haunting as it cites the infamous TV commercial where the legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan indirectly blames the poor for “preventing India from realizing its true potential”. Pohjonen’s introduction also cites this memorable line from Sainath: “Evading reality helps no one…a society that does not know itself cannot cope.” […]

February 29th, 2012|books, India, media, Published in The Friday Times|4 Comments

A red card for the Secular Indian Muslim

I am posting a brilliant piece (published by Indian Express) by my dear friend Rakhshanda Jalil – she is a bold yet sensitive writer based in Delhi. All power to her pen.

The controversy regarding the conferment of Qatari nationality upon M.F. Husain — and his acceptance of it — has given us the opportunity to revisit an old but neglected debate. The debate on being an Indian Muslim or a Muslim Indian is old hat; but the one concerning the “secular Indian Muslim” — the SIM? — needs our urgent attention. Those who doubt the existence of such a breed and view it as a contradiction in terms would do well to remember the legacy of a long line of distinguished people, from Mirza Ghalib, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Dr M.A. Ansari, Maulana Azad, Dr Zakir Husain to M.F. Husain, to name just a few. Then there are the nameless millions — doctors, lawyers, writers, journalists, teachers, wage earners who are living proof of Indian secularism. Husain is simply another link in this ganga-jamuni chain. He needs to neither establish his credentials nor protest his innocence; his work speaks for him.
Having established the credentials of this breed, let us set out the contours of its present dilemma: one, it exists in sufficiently large numbers to have escaped our notice yet, oddly enough, has never managed to establish a public profile for itself; nor has it, given its numbers, translated into a sufficiently large, and therefore woo-able, vote bank. Two, despite its largish presence (I imagine roughly half the population of Muslims in India), the breed is under severe threat.
One is not interested in establishing the presence of the SIM, for that one takes as a given. It has always existed in the weft of the Indian tapestry as the warp that runs alongside. In fact, what ought to concern us is the threat to its existence. That this threat is […]
March 14th, 2010|Arts & Culture, India, South Asian Art, SouthAsia|6 Comments

Well done Priti Maithil – good luck with the IAS babus

Raza Rumi

News such as this one are truly heart-warming. Not that entry into the Rajesque,elitist IAS is a panacea for India’s grinding poverty and unemployment but it is good to know that opportunities are opening up for the poor and education is making that happen. My only wish is that this also happens in my country and Bangladesh – after all poverty and inequality are not Divine ordained conditions – they have been designed by evil men and their cabals…

Source: NDTV – Twenty-three-year-old Priti Maithil, the daughter of a daily wage labourer in Sehore in Madhya Pradesh has ranked 92nd in the UPSC examinations and it is no surprise that her family is bursting with pride. […]

May 7th, 2009|India, Personal|5 Comments

The dilemma of an educated [Indian] Muslim youth

Saif Khalid, a patriotic Indian writes here on the predicament of those who want to stay away from the missions, the purges and typecasting of Indian media:

Terrorists once again played with deadly bombs in Delhi on September 13, bringing the usual destruction of life and property. By now, we Indians have become quite accustomed to death and destruction — man made or natural.

My very first reaction was: Will it be Indian Mujahideen (IM) once again? Within minutes of the blasts IM claimed it was behind the savagery. I felt like crying and shouting from the rooftop that whatever the terrorists have done in the name of Islam was wrong; that I am an Indian, who also happens to be a Muslim. I would not rejoice at the bleeding of my very own countrymen.

September 27th, 2008|India, Islam, Islamophobia|8 Comments

On Bhagat Singh, his vision and Jinnah’s support for his struggle

In his incisive speech to the Constituent Assembly on September 12 and 14, 1929, Jinnah harshly condemned the criminal colonial rule and the Government's actions against revolutionaries

March 28th, 2008|Culture, History, India, India-Pakistan History, Politics|21 Comments