ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

OdishaSubscribe to Odisha

Who Does the Media Serve in Odisha?

A look at the historical trajectory of the media in Odisha shows that it had little to do with business interests till the 1980s. Political interests and state power, especially state-sponsored advertising, were its main drivers. The low-key relationship between the media and business changed dramatically in the 1990s. Corporate and business interests now dominate Odisha's media, both through direct ownership and through advertisements. The mainstream media in the state primarily reflects the interests of certain sections of society, and a model of development that favours corporate dominance and accumulation through dispossession. An alternative media is gradually emerging in the vernacular and on the web, but they face significant challenges.

Persisting Dominance

Odisha presents a crisis of democracy with an upper-caste patriarchal domination that has been consolidated through the formation and expansion of a middle class that provides services to the capitalist extractive economy, while vast sections of the population, especially adivasis, dalits, and agricultural workers, remain marginalised. This process has been accentuated by neo-liberal policies and their implementation through a massive deployment of security forces. The strategy of dominance and governance has done little to reduce regional disparity between the coastal districts and inland regions, and it has been legitimised through the electoral process, welfare support, and the media.

Shift from Syncretism to Communalism

Attempting to analyse how and why Odisha has gradually become hostage to the politics of Hindutva, this paper traces the evolution of the state's syncretic tradition, which, despite occasional outbursts of communal antagonism, ensured peaceful coexistence. It points out that Hindutva's systematic expansion, which also made use of Christianity's contentious legacy in the state, has communalised the everyday syncretic space. In recent years, the state's social and caste hierarchy, conservative elites, middle class, civil society, media, and neo-liberal political class have overtly and covertly reinforced Hindu majoritarian politics.

Mining and Industrialisation

People's movements in the various tribal districts of Odisha have been opposing plans for mineral extraction and industries that will deprive them of their land and livelihoods. However, the political and state machinery seems to have enthusiastically climbed aboard the development bandwagon, especially in the mining sector, and is little inclined to heed the voices of the poor, marginalised people. Money and greed being powerful motivators, the rapidity with which Odisha has been ceding rights to exploit its mineral wealth is alarming.

Confronting Extractive Capital

Mines and other large industrial projects in Odisha have meant the large-scale displacement of people, and destruction of the environment. These have led to widespread grass-roots resistance. This paper takes a look at the major movements against dislocation and the state-corporate nexus that seeks to repress or counter them. It analyses who actually benefits from further depriving the poor, and the crony capitalism and capture of the state apparatus by the extractive sector. It also points out that an increasing convergence of the ecological and social justice trajectories is seen in the people's resistance movements.
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