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Upper castes dominate media: Survey
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June 05, 2006 16:39 IST

The news about the national media is hardly flattering if the findings of a survey are to be believed.

The national media, which front-paged the reservation controversy in all its facets, is now itself being sucked into that quagmire with the first-of-its-kind survey revealing that top echelons of media establishments are dominated by ''Hindu upper caste men.''

Jointly conducted by Yogendra Yadav, senior fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Anil Chamaria, a freelance journalist, and Jitendra Kumar from the Media Study Group, the controversial survey says India's 'national media' lacks social diversity and does not reflect the country's social profile.

''Hindu upper caste men dominate the media. They are about eight per cent of India's population but among the key decision-makers of the national media, their share is as high as 71 per cent,'' it points out.

The survey, which tracked the social profile of 315 senior journalists in 37 English and Hindi dailies and TV channels, also revealed gender bias in the media establishments. It was carried out by volunteers of Media Study Group between May 30 and June 3.

''Only 17 per cent of the key decision-makers are women though their representation is somewhat better (32 per cent) in the English electronic media,'' it says.

Women account for 16 per cent of top editorial posts in the English print media and 14 per cent and 11 per cent in the Hindi print media and electronic media, respectively.

The survey also takes a swipe at media's caste profile, describing it as 'unrepresentative'.

''Twice born Hindus ('dwijas' comprising Brahmins, Kayasthas, Rajputs, Vaishyas and Khatris) account for about 16 per cent of India's population, but they are about 86 per cent among the key media decision-makers. Brahmins (including Bhumihars and Tyagis) alone constitute 49 per cent of the key media personnel,'' he survey adds.

If 'non-dwija' forward castes like Marathas, Patels, Jats and Reddys are also added to this list, the total share of the upper castes would be pegged at a staggering 88 per cent.

Further, Dalits and Adivasis, points out the survey, are conspicuous by their absence among the decision-makers. Not even one of the 315 key decision-makers belongs to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes.

''The proportion of the OBCs is abysmally low among the key decision-makers in the national media They are only four per cent compared to their population of around 43 per cent in the country,'' it added.

The representation of Muslims is also grossly under-represented in the national media, the survey notes. Muslims, who comprise 13.4 per cent of the country's population, have a share of only four per cent in top media posts.

Muslims, however, fare better in the Hindi electronic media, accounting for around six per cent of major decision-makers. In the national capital itself, there were no Muslims at the seniormost levels.

The facts are more palatable with regard to the Christians, who are proportionately represented in the media, mainly in the English media. Their share is about four per cent compared to their population of 2.3 per cent.

The survey also makes a reference to ''doubly disatvantaged'' social groups such as women belonging to OBCs or backward caste Muslims and Christians.

''Social groups that suffer double disadvantage' are nearly absent among the key decsion-makers. There are no women among the few OBC decision makers and negligible backwards among the Muslims and Christians,'' the survey notes.

The findings were based on a survey of designation, age, caste, religion, mother tongue, gender and domicile of a maximum of 10 top decision-makers from 37 media establishments.

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