Archive for the ‘media’ Category

Grassroots journalism: Khabar Lahariya

April 6, 2008

There have been a number of commentaries of late criticizing the logics of mainstream journalism in contemporary India. In one widely circulated piece, Naresh Fernandes, editor of Time Out Mumbai, reminds us about P. Sainath’s “rural journalism” and how the space for such writing does not exist anymore (here). It is, as Fernandes points out, quite clear that English-language urban dailies like the Times of India operate with a very specific and narrow notion of who the reader-consumer is. Given this state of affairs, non-market and local initiatives become increasingly important.

Via India Together, I learned about one such initiative – Khabar Lahariya, a newspaper run by women for audiences in the Bundelkhand region of India. Kalpana Ram provides an overview of how this initiative came to be and argues that more than circulation figures, Khabar Lahariya is important simply because it exists.

Khabar Lahariya began as an experiment in 2002, aided by Nirantar, a resource centre for gender and education. It is based in Chitrakoot district, one of the 200 poorest districts in India, where there is practically no industry and the majority of people survive on rain-fed agriculture. Literacy rates are lower than the national average; female literacy is only 35 per cent. The sex ratio is also below the national average, only 872 women to a 1,000 men. Incidents of sexual violence are high and the justice delivery system barely functions as criminal gangs operate with impunity under the nose of a complacent and often complicit administration.

Against this background, a group of Dalit and adivasi women felt the need to start and run their own newspaper because the existing media in the area did not report on the issues that concerned them. They wanted to break the stereotype that lower caste women like them would not dare enter the public domain. Despite their lack of education, they wanted to prove that they too could be journalists.

You can read the rest of Ram’s piece here. The Nirantar website carries more details, and to get a sense of how these women cover current affairs (taaza khabar), national and international news, women’s issues, panchayati raj, and much more, you can read an entire issue of the newspaper here (Hindi).


Circles of Sexuality

February 28, 2008

The latest issue of HIMAL SOUTHASIAN draws attention to the many transitions and conflicts surrounding sexuality.

Discussions on the wide range of human sexuality have begun in Southasia, albeit only in certain circles – universities, NGOs and within specifically interested communities. For the rest, alternative sexuality exists the way it always did, mostly clandestinely, at other times through rigidly defined ‘communities’. However, as television and film producers, authors and journalists continue to try to push certain envelopes, and appeal to additional (and younger) audiences, these discussions are inevitably cropping up with greater frequency within the mainstream.

But just how realistic is all of this talk? More importantly, just how pertinent is it to the lived experiences of Southasians, particularly long-oppressed sexual minorities?

Articles tackle the state of homosexuality in Nepal, class and conservatism in Pakistan, “virtual closets” in Bangladesh, NGO-isation of sexuality, and much more.

Animation in India – 3 part series on NPR

December 11, 2007

This morning, NPR ran the first of a 3-part series on cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad emerging as major centers of animation production. Profiling Rhythm & Hues, an L.A-based company that has opened an office in bombay, the reporter Laura Sydell explains clearly why the de-centered nature of contemporary animation production needs to be understood not in terms of outsourcing but rather, as a function of concerted efforts by a number of media capitals to compete for this work (Vancouver, London, etc.).

Listen to the NPR story here, and go here to read more.

p.s. I was also intrigued by a comment that a Mumbai-based Rhythm & Hues employee made about the experience she was gaining, and that she eventually hopes to produce high-quality animation within India. When I heard that, I was reminded of Roadside Romeo, a feature-length animation co-produced by Yashraj Films and Walt Disney Pictures (trailer here). This will arguably be the first “Bollywood” animation that is not being marketed as a children’s film.

“Made by Arabs, for Arabs”

October 15, 2007

Petrodollars and a booming under-25 audience in the Middle East…of course MTV Networks is interested!

MTV Arabia is the biggest test to date of the network’s two-decade-old localization strategy. MTV’s flagship music channel has seen its American TV ratings slip and has struggled online. Management believes the biggest growth will come overseas, and the network now pumps out a blend of international and local tunes from Russia to Indonesia to Pakistan. That has helped MTV and sister operations, such as VH1 and Nickelodeon, reach 508 million households in 161 countries. “This isn’t going to be MTV U.S.,” Bill Roedy, vice-chairman of MTV Networks, says of the latest offering. “It is Arabic MTV made by Arabs for Arabs.”

Story here.

Becoming Indian-American: a historical marker

September 26, 2007


I came across this wonderful “historical marker” while driving around in the University Circle neighborhood of Cleveland, and it got me thinking about the critical role of Indian Students Associations in shaping ideas of being and becoming Indian-American (especially during the early phase of migration – late 1960s-1970s). There have been a number of academic articles and books that map different realms of the Indian-American experience, but there isn’t a good ethnographic-historical account of “Indian” student associations.

And now I’m also curious about what “LOTUS, the first Asian Indian community newspaper,” can add to our understanding of media and diasporic identity during the late 1960s. Until I came across this historical marker, I believed that the story of print culture in the Indian-American diaspora began with India Abroad, a newspaper started by Gopal Raju in 1970 (in New York city).