People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 29

July 22, 2012


Comrade Kalindi Remembered


ON New Delhi, July 14, 2012, the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) organised a seminar in New Delhi, on the third Kalindi Deshpande Memorial Day. It is to be recalled that Comrade Kalindi Deshpande, the AIDWA’s former vice president and editor of its Hindi journal Samya, breathed her last on this day while bravely fighting against cancer.


The seminar was on the topic “Women in the Media Today: Unravelling Dominance, Creating Democratic Alternatives.” Women from various parts of Delhi participated in it. 


Speaking on this issue, Dr Chandrakala Pandey, writer and professor of Hindi in Calcutta University, elaborated upon the ownership and dominance of corporate media during the last two decades, which has drastically changed the nature and character of mass media --- from a public broadcasting service to the one serving the interests of the rich and the elite. Today a large section of the media is busy creating an image of the women that caters to the traditional stereotypes like saas-bahu or is aggressively commodifying her as a sexual object meant to entice the male gaze. The way images of women are subtly constructed or propagated with exclusive focus on their looks, bodies and traditional stereotypes, makes it difficult for ordinary people to distinguish the imaginary and media constructed woman from real life woman. When women are only portrayed in such limiting and negative manner, it tends to affect particularly the young and developing minds and it becomes difficult to appreciate them as diverse, multifaceted, compassionate and socially responsible human beings. The speaker emphasised on the need to fight against such demeaning portrayal, and to create positive and more democratic alternatives which can depict the real struggling women of all strata of society with all the dignity of labour.


Ms T K Rajalakshmi, senior journalist with the Frontline, was the second speaker on this occasion. In the light of her long association with the print media, she highlighted the problems of women journalists and elaborated upon the social responsibility of the media. She also focussed on the need of strict implementation of the various codes related to the advertisements and programme contents. The presentations were followed by a very lively interaction and question answer session by the participants.


Supreme Court lawyer and AIDWA leader Kirti Singh presided over the function while Sehba Farooqui, general secretary, Janwadi Mahila Samiti (Delhi state affiliate of the AIDWA), conducted the proceedings and presented the vote of thanks.


The seminar, which began with readings from Kalindi’s plays, was accompanied by songs and a Marathi poem dedicated to her by her niece Mukta.