Let’s build a People’s Archive and Library of Historical Documentation~Reclaiming journalism for the public and everyday citizens from hyper-commercialised media
Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 17:00 - 18:30
Online live streaming
TAKENAKA Chiharu (Professor, College of Law and Politics, Rikkyo University)
Co-sponsored by
Kyushu University

Part 1 Keynote Speech

Reclaiming journalism for the public and everyday citizens from hyper-commercialised media

Mr. Palagummi Sainath has been developing a new digital journalism of the people, by the people, for the people, and has been focusing on the stories of impoverished farmers, who are often ignored in Indian society. In the first part of the Public Lecture, Mr. Sainath gave a keynote speech on the theme of the activities of the NGO, People's Archives of Rural India (PARI), calling it “an exploration of the digital revolution.”

Mr. Sainath began by saying that journalism in the media is controlled by a few powerful people, who are mostly within corporations. He raised issues about how journalism has therefore become an income stream and not about justice, or for the people. In the case of the 2004 tsunami, he said that there was a lot of coverage about the situation and the countries which provided support, but not about the fact that there were some people who gained enormous wealth while many people were affected by the tsunami. He pointed out that the same inequalities were seen during the COVID-19 pandemic and that it was always the ordinary people and the poor who were affected, insisting that it was “time for the people to regain the leadership of journalism.”

Next, Mr. Sainath used videos to introduce the nature of journalism at PARI, the base of his activities. The PARI journalists mingle with ordinary people, such as rural farmers, workers, fisherfolks, forest workers, and artists, establishing their trust and conducting grassroots-style journalistic activities closely with these people. They listen to the people’s “everyday voices” and report their actual experiences. Mr. Sainath explained this diligent reporting method. The video introduced women who dive for seaweed, regions undergoing desertification due to climate change, fisherfolk who have built their own radio station to learn and report on climate change and people engaged with medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic. He spoke in detail about the current situation of people in India caused by both climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Sainath said that one of the important issues in India today is that people who fought for India's independence 75 years ago are becoming old and passing away. He concluded by noting that the oldest “freedom fighter” is now 104 years old and that “it is a very big problem that more and more children do not have the opportunity to hear about the fight for independence and do not even know that it happened.”

Part 2 Interview

Capturing the reality of society to reflect the truth about people

Moderator: TAKENAKA Chiharu (Professor, College of Law and Politics, Rikkyo University)

In the second part of the lecture, Mr. Sainath talked with Professor Takenaka about the life of the people of India and his reporting activities while looking at photographs he had taken.

Mr. Sainath, who has taken many photographs, told the audience that he focuses on the thoughts and hearts of the subjects through his camera and that true stories are built with the minds of journalists and the subjects. He explained that it is important not to shy away from the facts and to build a relationship of trust with people in order to take true pictures.

He also spoke about the harshness and inequality of women’s work in modern society and the need to “give all girls the right to go to school.”

In closing, Mr. Sainath thanked his colleagues for their trustworthy support for his work as a journalist of more than 30 years. He sent the hope-filled message, “In the past 30-40 years, inequality has spread in the world and in people's minds, but I believe that the era in which justice equals equality will come, socially, politically, culturally, including issues around gender.”

Part 3 Questions and Answers

The third part of the lecture was a Q&A session where Mr. Sainath answered questions from the audience. Mr. Sainath answered the many questions from the audience in Fukuoka, Tokyo, and overseas about PARI’s activities, Indian democracy, and communication methods in India. Mr. Sainath provided a detailed and passionate response to each question, and the session exceeded the allotted time.