Painting with a broad brush: Stereotyping “tribal” identity

Yet another “tribal” story in a national newspaper. Based on my reading, the story is based on the seizure of a consignment of ghee packets at a forest checkpost by the department. Clearly this indicates that some of the ghee packets under a government scheme are finding ways into private markets for sale. Several reports abound about such “hand-outs” entering private markets. Often, these instances are cited as reasons for not giving subsidies or hand-outs. 

Without going into that larger policy argument, there’s a finer point to be made here on how the “tribal” identity gets typecast in news coverage.

From my letter to the Editor of NIE,

But, is it fair from this information to come to an all-encompassing title that paints all tribals in BR Hills with the same brush? In my opinion, journalists should put more effort into stories. For example, what kind of intermediaries are involved in organising such elaborate siphoning away of these food products? Often various intermediaries siphon away such hand-outs. Even, if ALL tribals were doing this, is it not the responsibility of the reporter to go a bit beyond this story and find out why? Is it not fair to at least interview/ask some tribal leaders/individuals for their opinion and reflect in a story? If a few members of a community/caste of people X residing in (say for example) Mandya were to do the same, would you write a story saying “People of Caste X from Mandya selling ghee for booze”. I would think not. Then why would you sanction such a story on “tribals”.

For a reputed national newspaper of NIE’s credibility, I would have expected higher journalistic and editorial standards.

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One response to “Painting with a broad brush: Stereotyping “tribal” identity”

  1. Rajeev R Basapathy Avatar
    Rajeev R Basapathy

    Stereotyping has become a norm. I would often hear few forest officials complaining that the tribals are responsible for man-animal conflict. It used to painful to listen to these comments. Labelling/ categorising a person/group of people is becoming a norm and with media also publishing such news, the civic responsibility has to be relooked.

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