Thursday, April 19, 2012

Indian Prisons: Hard on Minorities and Disadvantaged Castes

You know there is something really wrong with a country's justice, policing and political system, when out of the people in jail (undertrials, convicts and detenues), minorities and SC/STs comprise a disproportionately high number, as compared to their general population. This shows the bias in administration of criminal justice system and a huge access to justice issue. Click here for the source of the figures. It was quite shocking to read these figures. 

The reasons for this is the institutional bias against people from minority communities, especially Muslims in India and against those belonging to the Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. It is also an issue of access to justice wherein people who need free and competent legal aid most are most forcefully deprived of it. 

This seems to be like the issue of African-Americans prisoners in the US jails. The Equal Justice Initiative, under Bryan Stevenson, is doing a great job about the issue of excessive sentencing of under privileged communities in the USA. One must watch this TED video here:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Media Manipulation in India- The Structural Compulsion to Lie

Yesterday I saw a very interesting talk given by P Sainath, titled "A Structural Compulsion to Lie" which was given to an audience consisting  primarily of journalists.


 Anyone who has some time to spare must watch this witty and really hard hitting talk (in ten parts) which seeks to expose the myths surrounding mainstream media in India. Thus, I presume that Noam Chomsky's propaganda model which was discussed in his book Manufacturing Consent is not just true about western liberal democracies but also about the Indian media, at least the mainstream media which is highly corporatized and in the words of P Sainath, not just an instrument for big business but big business itself.

I myself looked through the websites of several of the mainstream media corporations in India, like NDTV, Living Media, Network18, and realised that they are owned (and therefore quite obviously controlled) by large business interests, apart from owning interests in several sectors themselves! For example NDTV's website, due to guidelines issued by Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) have put their shareholding patterns online here. On going through these patters, I found out that a large chunk of NDTV's shares (20% or more) have been held by huge corporations, investment banks like Goldman Sachs, Reliance Capital and other mutual funds. The latest shareholding patterns also mention the huge investments "foreign institutional investors" have made to NDTV.

I believe that such large investments by multiple corporations and the advertising model on which mainstream media is based, necessitates that the media's independence is seriously compromised and is in fact a myth. Furthermore, the focus of the mainstream media on the top 5% of the Indian population has largely blocked any reportage from the rest of India, apart from events of mass distress and death.

It is sad that policy makers and opinion makers in this country often make policies and decisions on the basis of the fictionalised/mytholigized versions of reality that the mass media touts as the truth. Its worse that we, the so called informed and educated citizenry of this country continue to accept whatever the media feeds us as the eternal truth. Its time to wake up and stop being Nero's Guests.

We are Nero's Guests

This documentary (Nero's Guests) is a must watch by every single Indian, especially those who have been brainwashed into believing that the corporatization happening all around us is beneficial to India.

Hundreds of millions are suffering at this very moment. If we don't act now, we won't be any different from Nero's Guests.