Prof. Vivek Kumar, Professor at the Centre for the Study of Social System (CSSS), Jawaharlal Nehru University delivered a lecture on 16th February 2017 on the topic of ‘Media and Marginalisation’.He lectured on how dalits are marginalised in media.

According to him the marginalisation takes place at three levels – icon, movement and value system. The media blacks out the dalit icons such as Dr. B.R.Ambedkar, dalit movement and their alternative value system. So, in this way, the very first layer of marginalisation ensures that there is a complete absence of news on dalit icons, movements and value systems. But since the Dalit Movement has been able to mark its presence despite the strategic black out, media is compelled to discuss dalit icons, movement and value system. Here comes the second layer of marginalisation i.e. reductionism. Although media is forced to give space, but it operates on the ideology of reductionism through which the universal idea of equality, fraternity and justice is reduced to certain issues such as reservation. Through such reductionism, a third layer of marginalisation is introduced i.e. stigmatisation. So while media may be discussing dalit icons, movement and value system, there is a stigma attached to the media coverage of all of them. Therefore, Ambedkar who is nowhere less than a charismatic national leader will be stigmatised as dalit leader and dalit movement as only a movement for reservation. Issues such as caste atrocities, naked parading of dalit women, landless labourers, etc. will never be brought into the discourse.

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Such marginalisation constructs a certain kind of ‘collective consciousnesses’. Construction of consciousness is very important in the production of knowledge. And to lead towards challenging such constructions, self-representation in a democracy has an important role to play. Representation of aspiration by the dominant groups who have been enjoying the power and having all kind of ‘cultural capital’ cannot and should not be seen as the process of uplifting of marginalised sections and democratisation of society. To bring democracy in a true spirit means that the rulers should give space to the ruled. Hence, self-representation of dalits is required at various  levels in all institutions – judiciary, academia, media, polity, etc. We can speak of rise of reason only when self-representation is given space in a democracy, otherwise, it remains a theoretical gimmick.

(Text: Dr. Kusum Lata)