Friday, June 29, 2007

Indian "public sphere"

Habermas get mentioned in the context of a debate on the possibility of a public sphere in India. Relevant excerpt:

"Ninan’s study takes forward Robin Jeffrey’s book, India’s Newspaper Revolution. Written in the ’90s, it encompassed the challenges before the language media, including Hindi, Urdu, and southern language newspapers, and their responses to it. But in both books, there are gaps in comprehending the public sphere in the Indian situation. The application of Habermas’s concept of public sphere in India’s diversified and unevenly developed society has limitations. India’s agrarian society, having passed through colonial rule, is fundamentally different from a liberal, developed society in the West. The basic class character of the Hindi press’s ownership has been mercantile-capitalistic. The changeover from mercantile capitalism to industrial capitalism, and switching over to digital printing technology, do not necessarily cause a shift in the social and professional behaviour of Hindi press barons and mufassil proprietors.Also, the century-old caste character of the Hindi press is fairly intact. Still a caste Hindu-dominated press, proprietors, editors, bureau chiefs and chief reporters invariably come from Vaishya, Brahmin, Kayasth and other upper caste backgrounds. This affects the democratic functioning of the Hindi press."

Kasbah Express, Mofussil Times

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