CHURUMURI POLL: Do we need quotas in media?

G.N. Mohan forwards a survey of the social profile of key decision makers in the “national” media conducted by the Centre for Study of Developing Studies. Its key findings are that the 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 8 per cent of India’s population but among the key decision makers of the national media their share is as high as 71%. Only 17 % of the key decision makers are women. Their representation is better in the English electronic media (32%).

The media’s caste profile is equally unrepresentative. ‘Twice born’ Hindus are about 16% of India’s population, but they are about 86% among the key media decision-makers. Brahmins alone constitute 49% of the key media
personnel. Dalits and adivasis are conspicuous by their absence among the decision makers. Not even one of the 315 key decision makers belonged to the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes.

The OBCs comprise only 4 % compared to their population of around 40% in the country. Muslims are only 3% among the key decision makers, compared to 13.4% in the country’s population. Christians are proportionately represented in the media (mainly in the English media): their share is about 4% compared to their population share of 2.3%.

These findings are based on a survey of the social background of 315 key decision makers from 37 “national” media organizations (up to 10 key decision makers from each organisation) based in Delhi. The survey was carried out by volunteers of Media Study Group between 30 May and 3 June 2006.

Questions: Is it time for reservations in the media to restore the balance of coverage? Or should the media voluntarily seek to introduce diversity in the newsroom? Would better diversity have resulted in better coverage of, say, the reservation issue? Or are these issues only limited to the North of the country?