‘Praja Vani’ special issue guest-edited by a Dalit

Many Indian newspapers now invite a “Guest Editor” to create some buzz.

Usually the guest is a boldfaced name: a cricketer (Yuvraj Singh), a godman (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar),  a businessman (N.R. Narayana Murthy), a news maker (Amartya Sen) or a celebrity.

Take a bow, Praja Vani.

On the birth anniversary of the father of the Indian Constitution, Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the Kannada newspaper from the Bangalore-based Deccan Herald group has brought out a special issue, guest-edited by the Dalit writer and social activist, Devanur Mahadeva.

Eight broadsheet pages of the 16-page main edition—plus seven out of eight pages in two four-page broadsheet supplements—have pieces commissioned by the guest editor.

In all, there are 37 pieces of text, led by an introduction from the paper’s editor, K.N. Shanth Kumar.

Each of the pages carrying the pieces has a common panel that reads “Swatantra, Samanathe, Sodarathe” (freedom, equality, fraternity) and each article carrying the piece has an icon of Ambedkar.

Among the articles, a business page report on India’s first Dalit bank; a metro section story on why Bollywood ignores Ambedkar; and an edit page piece on the need for social police.

Robin Jeffrey, whose lament on the lack of diversity in Indian (read English) newsrooms, prompted the experiment would be pleasantly surprised at the spunk of a leading regional-language newspaper.

Image: courtesy Praja Vani

Also read: 6 pages for Ambedkar; 393 pages for ‘The Family’

Anybody here Dalit and speaks English?

Is Vijaya Karnataka ready for a Dalit editor?

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21 Responses to “‘Praja Vani’ special issue guest-edited by a Dalit”

  1. Niaz A Says:

    Good gesture by Praja vani and good choice of editor, Devenur Mahadeva. He has stood tall among writers for the past 4 decades.

  2. Dalit Litterateur Devanoor Mahadeva as Guest Editor of Prajavani (Kannada) | media laundry- @Dhobitalao Says:

    […] ‘Praja Vani’ special issue guest-edited by a Dalit (churumuri.wordpress.com) […]

  3. Mackintosh Says:

    Could not get hold of the issue. Would like to know the name of the Dalit bank.

  4. Mysore Peshva Says:

    Churumuri, with due respect, your headline is irresponsible and somewhat mischievous:

    1. Devanur Mahadeva should be identified as a “Dalit” no more than a winner of the Kendra Sahitya Akademi award 1990

    2. Journalists have a responsibility to stop perpetuating (if not imposing) sad labels such as “Dalit,” which exemplifies a social construction of identity. Surely, isn’t every individual unique? Besides, the “Dalit” label has evidently has given unscrupulous politicians a handle to divide or distract Indian voters

    3. “Dalit” is a presumptuous stereotype because it seems to presuppose ignorance and haplessness. Please do not victimize Sri. Mahadeva, who by every account recognizes and celebrates the higher ideals. Sri. Mahadeva is a prominent public intellectual in southern Karnataka, and although I do not know if he is “shrotriya” or recognizes any relationships between Jnana and Bhakti, he regardless does not deserve to be dubbed as a Dalit.

  5. Deepak Thimaya Says:

    Not just for a day. It is time to force fresh air into journalism in India, particularly in the vernacular press. Let us see what journalism looks like from the other end of the social spectrum.

  6. Jay Vachani Says:

    This is as much as gimmick as it is to get Yuvraj or NRN or anyone else as a guest editor. It is incredible the apparently secular mainstream Indian media just can’t seem to get over caste as an identity marker! This is pathetic and farcical journalistic practices. You don’t see, say, the New York Times get a “black” journalist to showcase its apparent interest in “black issues” because genuine issues do and must get raised by genuine media outlets without resorting to gimmickry? When will genuine talent, irrespective of caste or any other identity marker, be given an opportunity in this land? Genuine quality media outlets don’t need gimmicks. The real tragedy for our country is that the media like other institutions is rapidly decaying, albeit slower than the other institutions, and just cannot seem to focus on nurturing and promoting quality talent from all over, irrespective of where it comes from!

  7. sudhir Says:

    The definition of Dalit here seems to be a guy from a lower caste. In today’s context Dalit is a poor guy who can’t pay for his three meals a day. I don’t think the guest editor falls into that category. It’s time media and politicians stopped misusing the word Dalit.

  8. RaoWords Says:

    I really hate this post title, it gives a chance to raise ugly questions:
    1. Does in the Journalism casteism rules, as it does in politics?
    2. Are the journalist the cause of certain caste hate, some news paper time and time print articles that divide people based on caste (As this article heading does)
    3. Being a Dalit was a curse 50 years ago, not anymore. But being poor is the curse now.
    4. In Western countries had racism and most countries have come out of it to a greater extent, but in India we are still dividing people based on caste.

  9. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    What we need is a good, working definition of the much used and abused word “Dalit.” I can see Shri Mahadeva as an activist in the Dalit cause, but he himself is not a Dalit unless we obsessively think of the caste the man was born into and not the man himself.

    If the Dalit movement does not resolve its identity issue, it will become a mere pawn in the hands of politicians–like the Dalit Sangharsh Samithi.

  10. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Swatantra and Samanathe may be ideals most people can hope for some day. This can be gained by force and revolution if necessary.

    But Sodarathe – not going to happen. That’s not the way we are.

  11. EmptyMind Says:

    @Jay Vachani, @sudhir
    Sir, can you please enlightened me what do you mean by “other identity marker” ? who is this “genuine talent “according to you? Does this “other identity mark”and “genuine talent” can be independent of caste identity? How?
    What stops you from acknowledging Shri Devanur Mahadeva as genuine talent? His caste??

    Are u people showing your ignorance or silently dumping the laws of causality and dependent origination of different real entities like individual, caste, race, class, merit,etc with respect to time entities like past, present ?. Why you people take nihilistic approach to eradicate caste system by running away from its consequences after practicing it from time immemorial? It is just like halting a fast moving train may be 100km/ph by few seconds with no intermediate decelerating speed. Imagine the jerk it produced on the poor passengers because of train’s own inertia!. It leads to major catastrophe similar to an accident.

    Caste system is just like an addiction of alcoholic, drugs, smoke etc. This addiction may give some physiological thrill and pleasures to brain (guess who is sitting here). But it intoxicates the whole body its system. Now poison of this addiction reached every cell of human body. We need correct counseling and medication to eradicate this disease and its poison.

    We know the cause of this decease. We also know its cure but it is correct prescription which matters. Without undergoing correct prescription, just getting escape by nihilistic approach thinking we do not have decease or poison, doesn’t cure the actual decease and its pain experienced by whole body :)

    If Devenur Mahadeva has got pure intention of raising downtrodden section,and if his method is also pure like his intention it will be unskillful to stop him.

    Coming to laws of interconnection or dependent origination:- no phenomena can exist independently without other conditioning phenomena. From your logic you are dumping the caste identity and bring all “other identity marker” as if there is no relation between these two identities!! This violates the fundamental law of dependent origination! Dare to disagree? You disagree Evolution theory :)

  12. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    Where is Gabby these days? We need her to weigh in with her sane view of things.

  13. batta Says:

    Irritating headline by Churmuri, Devanur has all qualities for this post. Now a days its not a big matter. Here Devanur name is importnat rather than he is his caste. Now are in 2012, not in 1950s he has all the qualitie that is why he has elected. Whats wrong with your headline?

  14. chidu22 Says:

    Condescending nature of the article towards Dalit is deplorable. Mr Mahadeva is a good writer,it has nothing to do with his social status. Journalistic skills and wisdom is independent of caste.

  15. Jay Vachani Says:

    @EmptyMind – there are many markers of identity – economic, social , cultural , gender, geographic, etc etc. Caste is a social marker of identity. You seem to have misinterpreted my post, perhaps because you are consumed by caste? Getting Mr Mahadeva to be a guest editor is as gimmicky as it is in getting Yuvraj or NRN Murthy or who know, a Priyanka Chopra tomorrow! If Praja Vani is genuinely interested in promoting talent from all walks of life, let them do stories, support programmes for journalistic and media training for the backwards – particularly socio-economic ones – provide job opportunities to the talented people from such programmes and in essence aim for a effort that showcases quality and talent. Not gimmicks. Churumuri as an apparently secular media outlet uses caste markers to identify people even when it is irrelevant to a story! Hope this clarifies!

  16. Basvangudi Baddihida Says:

    I agree with Mysore Peshva and Pulikeshi the last…there is no room for either the headlines nor the treatment

  17. EmptyMind Says:

    Alright , I got your sayings , the word “gimmick” may have arbitrary meaning depending on individual thought but better one which suits present context- “the wholesome action driven by unwholesome intention” is it OK?

    It would have been agreeable if you applied this word to politician, as they are tested personalities.
    But why on prajavaani ? or Devanoor Mahadev ? Or on real issue which they have raised??? cant u think it is premature to assume their real intention at this point of time? What difference does it made if the guest editor is Devanoor Mahadev or URA or Chandrashekar Kambar or even SL Byrappa. Neither Guest editor nor their caste , and even shilpa shetty is not important here. Prajavani , udaya vani or any local, international vani is also immaterial.

    We Indians are mastered in trivializing the real issues, running away from harsh reality, and tending ourselves towards bashing or praising entities like individual or institution on basis of secular, communal, caste, parties.. …etc. And even calling them gimmicks!

    Fundamental Duty of the fourth pillar is to highlight the reality and show it to general public, any other duties? Debatable. Here issues what they have raised should be of prime concerns. You may disagree many of them, but there are better ways and approach to test their sayings.

    And what are the fundamental duties of citizen of india???????
    we may need to go high school again to see last cover page of social science text book :)

    Remember what Lord Buddha and Lord Krishna says: it is very simple

    Keep the” Intention” noble, praiseworthy, harmlessness, with resistance to feelings of anger and greed, driven by compassion, wisdom .

    And the “Action” of both speech and body are also noble, praiseworthy, harmlessness, with resistance to feelings of anger and greed, driven by compassion, wisdom.

    And this wholesome “Action” driven by whole some” Intension” without seeking any reward will be much closer to God. And they shouldn’t care the worldly banters like words” gimmick,
    Hope prajavaani falls into this category.

    And finally Application of word “gimmick” at wrong context is also another kind of gimmick. No? : – corollary of my first Para!

  18. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Very puerile headline, Churumuri !! What next? “Brahmin eats Biriyani at Taj Biriyani Paradise!”,

  19. dmanair Says:

    For as long as such titles crop up, casteism in India shall prevail! For all the tokenism, have you done anything to highlight the plight of those people who have to dive into manholes everytime it blocks?? No Brahmin forced him to do that, its the governement of the day that has continued to exploit his “Dalitism”. Why not emancipate them by providing better machinery which does the same in other parts of the world???

    When Obama became the president of US, our so called intelligensia from the media were debating the time for a Dalit to become PM! Bird brains pretending to be broad minded modern day thinkers. Maybe they forgot that a K R Narayanan had already completed a tenure as President of India for his achievement and not necessarily his “caste”.

    Churumuri joins the likes of these “Broad minded” media!!!

    Pathetic headline. Shows the amount of bird brains that are dominating the media, especially the ELM!!! These people with such headlines are the reason for casteism still prevading! Have you done anything worthwhile to eradicate other than just sloganeering???

  20. EmpyMind Says:

    Pulikeshi the Last, dmanair
    There is no need to resolve any identity issue. Why should somebody waste time on something that offshoots from stupidity of human mind which is itself conditioned by greed, anger and ignorance . by the way who is Brahmin?KSHATRIYA?vaishya?dalit? farmer? doctor? Reporter?churumuri?Who am I? there is no fixed definition of these terms if you more contemplate on reality!! All definition made are out of fixed reference frame only to suit their limited interest. Not the collective interest!!!!

    Let me clarify this problem. It’s a Scenario From the movie Baktha Kanaka Daasa. When purandara daasaru puts one question to his disciples including great kanaka daasa . who will reach God ? all the crazy disciples gave fancy answer like -I will reach god. My father will reach god. Our guru galu(purandara dasa) will reach. who has not done any sin will reach god. Finally it is Kanaka dasa time. Can you guess his answer!!!! Naanu odare hoguve . !!!! -If ”I” go can reach the God!!!!!!!.
    Contemplate on brilliancy of Kanakadaasa’s reply if u do not understand the hidden meaning in it. yes he virtually killed the entitity called “I” THE “SELF ENTITY” the main source of all greed, anger, and Ignorance. !!!!!!!!!!
    Coming back to the problem related to the identity issue. For a holy people who believe in God or Truth. If they wnt to realize it, they need to kill this “I” not only his all “other Self” from his perspective. When there is no “I” who is Brahman?kshatriya?vaishya?shoodra? dalit? doctor? engineer? farmer? Kannadiga? englishman? hindu? muslim?indian?american?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Coming to four varnashrama principles
    brahmana, vaishya, kshatriya, shoodra all four doesn’t have any “self identity “ like “I”, “community” etc. it only depicts pure subjective phenomena.
    Brahmanism – wisdom, knowledge of system working and know the path need to accomplish task.
    Kshatriyaism- courage, to counter the hindrance and problems that come in the way of the path.
    Vaishnavism- intelligence- know how to spend money, time, energy wisely.
    Shoodra – action- physical action required to accomplish the task.

    Any specialist required the four gunas or qualities. Specialist can be either farmer, teacher, doctor, engineer, etc , etc, do you know the caste of these specialist? He is casteless!!!!!he need to merge all four qualities to be specialist. But why again these specialist have been dumped into four varnas!!!!! Disturbing his great balance what he attained!!!! . Again applying “SELF” entity logic here .

    From “No-self” Doctrine, these specialist are also not really “specialist” but it is only “Specialization”.!!!
    Certainly there is no need for any identification then.

    For more clarification on” NO SELF” please read “anatta” doctrine of Buddism. Or even you can see “Upendra” movie. You can see how “Naanu” is killed at the climax :)

  21. Mahadevaswamy Says:

    It is really good move of the paper by inviting a dalit to edit paper.

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