CBS' 60 Minutes on untouchability and caste violence in India

Partha Banerjee partha at CAPITAL.NET
Tue Mar 23 21:29:32 UTC 1999

My observations on the show aired March 21 on CBS (in case it matters to

1. Factually inaccurate -- it shows BJP flagbearers (and only BJP flags for
that matter) as sort of emancipators of the dalits when in reality, BJP,
RSS, and VHP have been highly supportive of the Hindu caste system
(although RSS leaders have spoken against social discriminations, they have
never disfavored the system itself -- that is pro-status quo conservatism
to me and root cause for such evils). The killer militia Ranvir Sena is a
militia of upper caste landlords in Bihar, and traditionally, upper caste
landlords have supported BJP and the Congress. It is often alleged that
Ranvir Sena is linked with both parties.

2. Characteristic suppression of facts -- the show does not mention how
peoples' organizations in India have worked very hard to empower the
oppressed as that honest disclosure would highlight left and progressive
political and social groups and people which is anathema to western media;
so, show BJP flags, but no reds, period. (Incidentally, US media did the
same when they showed the last rites of Mother Teresa -- they never went
on-record to highlight peoples' movements in Calcutta and Bengal as if they
were non-existent!).

3. Gross generalization -- it is projected in a way as if the whole country
of India and the religion of Hinduism are blanket-supportive of such
brutality and oppression on the so-called untouchables and condone caste
system and its discrimination without exception; the show does mention
Mahatma Gandhi (to the west, he is the ONLY savior of modern India with his
non-violence, moderate views, and all), but again, conveniently bypasses
social and political "radical" movements. Who in the west has ever heard of
Rammohan Ray, Vivekananda, Keshav Chandra Sen, Ambedkar, or Jyotirao Phuley?

4. Slant in favor of Christian efforts -- a Christian person is shown to be
the one who is working to alleviate the pain of the dalits (and who is
talking against the oppressive system); although I have nothing against
anybody working to uplift the poorest of the poor, I find this mention
characteristically slanted in favor of Christianity specially when parallel
works are intentionally bypassed.

5. All-pervasive Western media -- Yes, CBS and its hired CNN bigshot
Christiane Amanpour (who is married to State Department spokesman James
Rubin) manage to get permission to film in an area under judicial probe;
hence we can imagine how all-pervasive and all-influential the western
media is: Orwellian brainwashing is very much on.

Sincere regards,

Partha Banerjee

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