Hindi journalists are Kashmir illiterate, survey reveals startling results

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Muhammad Raafi

Srinagar

hindi-media

Kashmir always had a serious case against India’s Hindi medium. It has rarely been objective and has never tried to improve. Now it is explained. A survey revealed that most of Hindi journalists are Kashmir illiterate and are unwilling to know Kashmir as a subject in its historic and political context.

They are not even adequately educated about Article 370, the main part of the constitution that bridges Srinagar with Delhi.

The survey conducted by the Delhi-based Media Study Group, has revealed that a major chunk of the journalists working for the Hindi media are uninterested in getting the first-hand knowledge about the salient features of the Article 370.

The Media Studies Group (MSG), which has spearheaded over 20 surveys in last ten years including the famous survey on social representation in the national media in 2006, recently carried out this survey to study the background of the portrayal of a certain image of Kashmir through Hindi media tools. The Hindi speaking belt is the largest region in the country and Hindi newspapers, and magazines, play a key role in shaping the public opinion of a particular kind on Kashmir.

Jan Media, Hindi publication of MSG, has published this online survey in detail in its December issue. Conducted during September 16 -22 October 2016 and analysed by its editors, the survey tries to understand the layers of relationship which Hindi journalists share with Kashmir. The survey also decodes many startling facts about Hindi journalists and their approach towards Kashmir.

According to the survey, around 46 percent such journalists have got information about this special constitutional provision through newspapers only; however, only 11 percent of them were enlightened about this by their teachers. Another 11 percent of them knew about the provision listening to the speeches on different fora. And, 16 percent of them came to know about the Article 370 just during interactions with people.

In the survey, 80 percent Hindi journalists claim that they are aware of the political background of Article 370 and have read about it. However, 20 percent of them conceded that they were completely ignorant about this.

Around 67 percent Hindi journalists admitted that their source of knowledge about Kashmir was a newspaper. For 17 percent journalists, magazines were the source of information on Kashmir. Only one percent journalists admitted to have referred to the research papers to know about the politically sensitive J&K.

Regarding knowledge of political history of Kashmir, 58 percent Hindi journalists claim to have relied on the newspapers and magazines only. However, 23 percent of them have said that they consulted textbooks for the purpose. On the other hand, research papers were the basis for only six percent of the journalists as regards the J&K issues.

Of total participating journalists in the sample survey, 30 percent did not know that several Kashmiris laid their lives while fighting against Pakistani intruders during Partition. However, 70 percent participants claimed to have knowledge about the sacrifices made by the Kashmiris against Pakistani soldiers at the time of Partition.

Only 42 percent participants had nominal knowledge of economic and social conditions of Kashmir, 23 percent participants of them did not know much about these conditions. And the fact is that most of them view Kashmir through a spectrum of natural beauty, film shootings and terrorism. And most importantly, only eight percent Hindi journalists visited Kashmir to get firsthand knowledge.

As per the survey, around 46 percent participants replied in negative when they were asked whether they instantly remembered any news report on Kashmir except tourism, film shootings or terrorist incidents. This clearly indicated that there was a lack of reference materials on economic and social aspects of Kashmir.

The survey also came up with a surprise wherein as many as 24 percent participating journalists believed that only Hindus have faced displacement from Kashmir.

And most importantly, 58 percent of these journalists did not recognise the flag of Kashmir and 51 percent of these conceded that people of Hindi belt nursed a biased feeling against Kashmir.

Around 81 percent journalists admitted that they did not read any newspaper published from Kashmir. Moreover, 77 percent scribes accepted that they did not attend any programme meant for the democratic rights of the people of Kashmir.

Among these journalists, 45 percent believed that the external forces were the root-cause of the Kashmir problem, whereas 18 percent of them viewed this issue from the religious angle. Around 66 percent journalists attributed this problem to Pakistan and Islam, whereas 55 percent of them held Pakistan guilty of fomenting separatist feeling in Kashmir.

Of the total participants, 49 percent were in favour of dialogue with the people of Kashmir to solve this problem, whereas 19 percent of them talked about referendum and 20 percent favoured the tripartite talk by involving Pakistan. Only 10 percent of them advocated military solution. And strangely, only one percent journalists believed that bilateral talks between India and Pakistan alone could solve the Kashmir problem.

State-wise participation of Hindi journalists in the sample survey was: Uttar Pradesh — 36 percent, close to 26 percent Bihar, Madhya Pradesh — 9 percent, Rajasthan 7 percent, Uttarakhand 6 percent and Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh one percent each. Only 6 percent journalists born and brought up in Delhi took part in the exercise. Gender wise, the survey records 81 percent male participation and 19 percent female participants. Concisely, state and gender wise participation reflected the reality of reach and extension of Hindi language in various states and presence of women in the field of mass communication.

Socially speaking, 73 percent participants were Hindus while 4 percent of them followed Islam. Of all these, 41 percent were associated with the newspapers while 17 percent of them worked for the television channels. Only 11 percent were attached with Internet and five percent of them belonged to the magazines. And, just two percent of them worked with radio.

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