Why the Indian journalists are the modern ‘manuvadis’ of the intellectual caste system

After recent attacks on dalits, India’s caste system and the problems surrounding it are again under focus. Most of the socio-cultural problems of India are being traced to caste inequalities. Not just problems, anything about the society or social structure is being pinned to caste. In fact, even Olympics! (see image below):

Casteist tweet about Olympics
Apparently it’s a Brahmin team, despite most players being non-Brahmins.

Interestingly, such Twitter handles are actively promoted by many Indian journalists. This is in line with sudden journalistic focus on atrocities against dalits – some valid and some invented.

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So is it some inherent and ever-lasting concern for equality among journalists that drive this focus? You wouldn’t say so if you just checked the upper echelons of media, which are devoid of any dalit representation. It makes their case worse when you see how dalit journalists are treated by their fraternity.

Given all this, it is intriguing that the journalists lead the fight for dalits. This is even more ironic when you consider that journalists of today are much like the oppressive members of the caste-system, often termed as “manuvadis”. And this is especially true for the “Lutyens Journalists” – the English speaking, metro residing, wining and dining connoisseurs.

For years, these set of elite people have been revered by the Indian society as a superior, high class, learned, cultured and sophisticated lot. And many of these privileges have been passed on to the next generation. So many modern Indian journalists who have reached the upper strata are either second generation journalists or have connections with journalists of yester-years.

Just like the upper castes, demographically this community constitutes a small fraction of the Indian population. However, they enjoy disproportionate dominance, power and wealth. Members of this community have been directly or indirectly wielding influence on administrative, judicial and legislative powers of India. The community members have been intimately involved with academia, business and politics.

The institution which brags about equality, fairness and impartiality has not only practised segmentation based on languages and pedigrees, but it also ensured that such structure remains intact. The bourgeois class of journalists have always maintained an apathy towards the proletariat class of journalists. Last year, OpIndia.com wrote an article highlighting silence of celeb journalists over killing of a less-known journalist. Jagendra Singh was burnt alive in Uttar Pradesh, but sadly, most of the top journalists who are vocal about even a tweet against them, didn’t lose their sleep over it.

Most of these upper-class journalists flaunt their modus vivendi while target others for their accent and attire (paisa aaya per class nahi aaya). Their power is often rooted in “access” – being able to participate in Lutyen’s cocktail parties and be close to some people – something others are denied. These parties are closed societies are the modern temples where the “untouchables” are not allowed.

Of late, when social media started challenging the autonomy of media honchos, the elite Lutyens’ journalism community was seen rattled. The following tweet captures how they do not want the untouchables to touch them:

You can’t raise voice against them. Nobody, not even the law of the land, is above them. They don’t want police complaints. Remember those movies where a Thakur, the zamindaar, used to got infuriated if some villager raised his voice or went to the police station against him?

So while we are seeing every social inequality from the lens of caste, why leave out our elite journalists? As this article shows, their tribe and behaviour is so much similar to the oppressive caste-system.

They are privileged, they have connections, they have clout, they have closed societies, they have power, and they don’t like being questioned. Isn’t it something which reminds you of the “manuvadis”?

When will this oppressive upper-caste of India be dismantled?


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