Indian media has a callous approach towards issues of rural India. It needs to mend its ways to create a pluralistic space for rural news.
Even though ‘India lives in its villages’, it hardly loves its villages. Almost 90 crore Indians, residing in rural India, face the apathy and indifference of the urban, middle class, which seems to capture most of the mainstream space. One yardstick of this apathy is the coverage given to rural issues by the media, fourth estate of democracy. A study by Centre for the Studies of Developing Societies found out that top 6 dailies of India devote around 2% of their editorial space to the issues and concerns of rural India. Even in this paltry space, news related to crime, violence, accidents, etc crowd out the real issues of development.
In the current milieu, our perceptions are concocted by the information we surround ourselves with. Most of the news items we are fed with hardly cater to the needs and aspirations of rural India. Our selective bias chips in and hence, their concerns don’t capture our fancy. In 2015, the number of farmer suicide shot by over 40%. This is a humanitarian catastrophe and should have exhorted the democratic conscience of the people to demand more accountability from policymakers on agrarian crisis. But, none of this happened as ‘frequent’ suicides have become a mundane news item and don’t qualify for breaking news.
Media is a key driver of social and individual perceptions. There is a strong need of an overhaul in media where proportional representation is given to the rural India, if not more. More rural news items and journalists need to be co-opted in the mainstream. Sporadic initiatives like community radio, People’s Archive of Rural India (an online platform dedicated to rural news) need more push and support. Indian republic will stand true to its ideals, if it gives fair space to two-third of its populace. And the fourth estate will have a crucial role to play.
© 2016 Sulabh Swachh Bharat. All Right Reserved