Making News in Global India: Media, Publics, Politics 1107099463, 9781107099463

In the decades following India's opening to foreign capital, the city of Bangalore emerged, quite unexpectedly, as

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Table of contents :
Cover
Half-title
Title page
Copyright information
Table of contents
List of figures
Acknowledgments
Notes on translation, pseudonyms and abbreviations
List of abbreviations
Introduction
The Pink Chaddi campaign
Beyond representation-dominance: structured visibility
News media’s mediation: desire
The dialectics of mediated urban politics
Plan of the book
1 Regimes of desire
Chatpata news: redefined field and reimagined audiences
Local paradise
Real estate: materiality of ideal-local
Page 3: ‘Face as fortune and body as wealth’
Corporate stars and political goons
Reframed political news
Organizational pedagogy and journalists as victims of the state
2 Democracy by default
Porosities and flexible newsrooms
Interaction to activism
Refresh Bangalore: steering the brand, veering around objectivity
Middle-class contests: the ‘spillover’ effects
The poor in the world-class city
3 The difference machine
Relational dynamics of news production
Bottom-line differentiation: surveys and segments of the news market
Mapping the audiences: imaginations of journalists
Fissured landscape: competition and antagonism in the news field
Conclusion
4 Kannada Jāgaṭe
Theorizing ‘Kannada’ for the news field
Heterogeneous publics as a news public: the performance of Kannada
Insider/outsider binary
Cultural politics of Kannada
Kannada’s moments of subalternity
Bangalore International Airport
Conclusion
5 ‘Journalists are pimps’
Print communalism
Caste and language as a weapon of war
Caste exclusions
Journalistic sociality and networks
Flux and fissures in the English-language news media
Conclusion
Beyond the public–private dichotomy
Chaos or patterned permeations?
Local/global dialectic: the mediatized ‘hyperlocal’
Notes
Introduction: Urban deadlines – The twin mediations
1. Regimes of desire: The rise of the Times of India
2. Democracy by default
3. The difference machine: Market and field logics of news
4. Kannada Jāgaṭe: The sounds and silences of the bhasha media
5. ‘Journalists are pimps’: A triangulated axis of caste, language and politics
Conclusion: Grounding news, grounding the global
Bibliography
Index
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Making News in Global India

In the decades following India’s opening to foreign capital, the city of Bangalore emerged, quite unexpectedly, as the outsourcing hub for the global technology industry and the aspirational global city of liberalizing India. Through an ethnography of English and Kannada print news media in Bangalore, this ambitious and innovative new study reveals how the expanding private news culture played a critical role in shaping urban transformation in India, when the allegedly public profession of journalism became both an object and agent of global urbanization. Building on extensive fieldwork carried out with the Times of India group, the largest media house in India, between 2008–2012, Sahana Udupa argues that the class project of the ‘global city’ news discourse came into striking conflict with the cultural logics of regional language and caste practices. Advancing new theoretical concepts, Making News in Global India takes arguments in media scholarship beyond the dichotomy of public good and private accumulation. is a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. SAHA NA UDUPA

Making News in Global India Media, Publics, Politics Sahana Udupa Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

University Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United Kingdom Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9781107099463 © Sahana Udupa 2015 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2015 A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data Udupa, Sahana, 1977– Making news in global India : media, publics, politics / Sahana Udupa.  pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-107-09946-3 (hardback) 1.  Mass media and culture – India.  2.  Globalization – Social aspects – India.  I.  Title. P94.65.I4U38 2015 302.230954–dc23 2014046496 ISBN 978-1-107-09946-3 Hardback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Contents

List of figures Acknowledgments Notes on translation, pseudonyms and abbreviations List of abbreviations Introduction: Urban deadlines – The twin mediations

page vi vii xi xiii 1



1 Regimes of desire: The rise of the Times of India

29



2 Democracy by default

62



3 The difference machine: Market and field logics of news

90



4 Kannada Jagate: The sounds and silences of the bhasha media

126

5 ‘Journalists are pimps’: A triangulated axis of caste, language and politics

172



Conclusion: Grounding news, grounding the global

202

Notes Bibliography Index

218 247 270

v

List of figures

2.1 Schematic diagram of news dynamic page 66 3.1 Income levels of English and Kannada newspaper readers 99 3.2 Difference in the income levels of English and Kannada newspaper readers 99 4.1 Difference in the coverage of BIA themes (percentage of total frequency of theme units) (2008) 156 4.2 Differences in the news sources accessed between English-language and Kannada newspapers (%), BIA stories (2008) 166

vi

Acknowledgments

The world of journalism and the city of Bangalore are the source of inspiration for this study. I have grown with them and lived through the changes. The generous doctoral fellowship offered by National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, gave me an opportunity to explore the changes in these two fascinating worlds, even as I  wondered how my lived experiences would interface the systematic frame of academic inquiry. The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (MPI-MMG), my current institute, has supported me in every possible way, by funding research as well as creating a stimulating work atmosphere with a team of excellent researchers as colleagues and invited guests. The formal colloquia and informal discussions at various little restaurants of Goettingen have been extremely helpful in placing this work before academia-at-large. During my student tenure as a PhD candidate, a visiting scholar fellowship awarded by the Center for Global Communication Studies (CGCS) at the Annenberg School of Communication (University of Pennsylvania) gave me the chance to meet some of the influential scholars in communications and South Asian studies, and experience first-hand one of the most vibrant academic cultures in the United States. The Humanities Research Institute at the University of California (Irvine) gave me a scholarship to attend a summer seminar on the creative industries, which introduced me to the finest scholarship on culture and media. The Sir Dorabji Tata Trust gave me a travel grant to attend this seminar. The generous funding extended by these institutions helped me to connect my fieldwork with larger questions and contexts. I have been fortunate to receive the guidance of many distinguished scholars, but most significant is the long association with my PhD supervisor Carol Upadhya, whose rock-solid support has been a pillar of strength. Her admirable patience with young scholars and her erudite and timely interventions have helped me to hone my research skills and refine my approach. For his extraordinary support and mentorship, I thank Peter van der Veer, the director of MPI-MMG, whose vii

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Acknowledgments

prolific scholarship is an inspiring wealth of knowledge. For his amazing mentorship and copious compliments, I  thank Monroe Price, the director of CGCS, UPenn, and his inspiring, towering personality. His support is invaluable. For their suggestions, encouragement and scholarship, I  wish to thank all the members of my doctoral advisory committee – Paula Chakravartty, A.R. Vasavi, Sundar Sarukkai and Solomon Benjamin. Sundar Sarukkai’s incitement to (studied) irreverence for theories rooted in Western experience inspired me to turn my attention back to my language (Kannada), its world of meanings and the intricate layers of Kannada ‘loka’ (cosmos). Thanks also to the CGCS team – Libby Morgan and Laurel Eisenach in particular – for arranging access to the library and a number of important events at Philly. For their sharp comments, wit, humor and laughter at Philly, I thank Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan, Arjun Shankar, Karin Hilfiker, Amandeep Sandhu, Oulai Bertrand Goué and Tanzi Chy. Thanks to Nicole Stremlau at the Program for Comparative Studies in Media Law and Policy, University of Oxford, for all the support and warmth. I have benefited from comments and suggestions by scholars at various venues. Sincere thanks to Ursula Rao, Mark Allen Peterson, Michael Schudson, Barbie Zelizer, Radha Hegde, Arjun Appadurai, Faye Ginsburg, Patrick Eisenlohr, Per Stahlberg, Lisa Mitchell, Stephen McDowell, Toby Miller, Yuezhi Zhao, Richard Maxwell, Arvind Rajagopal, Christiana Brosius, Daniel Muenster, Kevin Carragee, Catherine Murray, Vibodh Parthasarathi, Purnima Mankekar and Anjan Ghosh, for their insightful comments and encouragement. The ‘book buddies’ group steered by my ever-helpful MPI colleagues – Nathaniel Roberts, Uday Chandra and Lisa Bjorkman – kept the timeline tight and focused. I thank these wonderful colleagues, and also Angie Hoe, Roshanack Shaery, Samuel Lengen, Jin-Heon Jung, Jayeel Serrano Cornelio, Sajida Tuxun, Gareth Fischer, Kristin Futterlieb, Matthias Koenig, Tam Ngo, Karen Schönwälder, Kristine Krause, Dan Smyer Yu, Wendy Smyer Yu, Rumin Luo, Sarover Zaidi, Diana Wagener, Julia Müller and Christel Albern at MPI. At NIAS, there has never been a dull moment. For their support and affection, thanks to S.  Settar, M.G. Narasimhan, Sangeetha Menon, Rajesh Kasturirangan, Shantha Mohan, B.K. Anitha, Hamsa Kalyani, Vijayalakshmi, Sandhya, Stella, K.S. Ramakrishna, Dilip Ahuja, P.K. Shetty, K. Kasturirangan, V.S. Ramamurthy and Srinivas Aithal. Special thanks to Revathi Sampath Kumar and Jananie for their very useful help in the final stages of my PhD dissertation. The acknowledgment page is seen as an occasion to express gratitude, which it is, but this also inspires a moment to reflect on what made this

Acknowledgments

ix

work what it is, who collaborated and who refused. Aside from the true academic support it received, this book had also to contend with the continually reproduced power relations between the West and the East – a section of the highly competitive Western academia seeking not so egalitarian relations with researchers in the ‘field’. My movement between India and the Western world in the last few years continues to caution me how not to regard the field merely as a researchable entity, which at times recreates the very colonial trappings dutifully critiqued in one’s academic work. This book could not have been written without the generous support extended by the Times of India group. The Times members wholeheartedly shared their space on the news floor with me and readily offered insights into the ebbs and flows of news production. I wish to thank every Times member who made this study possible by participating in a number of formal and informal interviews, and bearing with my presence during editorial meetings and other important newsroom events. Special thanks to Sunil Rajshekar, Chinnen Das, Kala Devi, Jayanth Kodkani, Anil Nair, K.R. Srinivas, H.S. Balram, Deepashri Misti, Franklyn James, Sujit John, Seethalakshmi, Vasanth Nadiger, Venkatalakshmi, Gayathri Devi, Thyagaraj, Kariswamy, Prabhakar, Shreesha, Niranjan Kaggere and M.K. Ashoka, for their patience, time and insights. Journalists from Prajavani, Deccan Herald, The Hindu, Samyukta Karnataka, Udayavani and Ee Sanje and media commentators in Bangalore have been equally helpful:  K.N. Harikumar, Ramakrishna S., Ramakrishna Upadhya, Chennakrishna, Padmaraja Dandavathi, Janardhana, Lakshmikant Sawkar, Poornima, Prakash Belavady, G.N. Mohan, Krishnaprasad, Dhyan Poonacha, Hemant Kumar and Hunaswadi Rajan, among others. Thanks to Jayarama Adiga for his warmth and ready support throughout my research. Thanks also to V.N. Subbarao, Mamatha Gowda, Dinesh and Vishu Kumar at the Madhyama Academy, and Brungesh at the Chief Minister’s press office. My friends in academia have always been a source of strength: Anilyn Dias, Rahul Mukhopadhyay, Sailen Routray, Sheela Venkatesh, D.P. Satish, Sowjanya Peddy, Rob MacMohan, Vuc Cucic, Adam Levin, Amelia Arsenault and Michael Baas, among others. Special thanks to Meera Baindur for her unflinching support and affection. In Bangalore, our neighbors stood by the various phases of research by nurturing a friendly family atmosphere: thanks to Shyamala, Prasanna Raghavendra, Pranav, Shilpa Madnawat, Hemendra Madnawat, Amit, Anurag, and all the dear uncles and aunties. Editor Lucy Rhymer at Cambridge University Press has been exceptionally attentive and encouraging. My sincere thanks to Rhymer and her editorial/production team: Amanda

x

Acknowledgments

George, Rob Wilkinson (Out of House Publishing), Georgina Boyle and Amanda Speake. Finally, this research would not have been possible without the loving support of my family: my husband Kiran Kulkarni, brother Ghatam Giridhar Udupa, sister Sumana Udupa, mother-in-law Mangala Kulkarni, sisters-in-law Rashmi, Petra and Sandhya, and cousins Mahesh Holla and Bhargava Halambi, and my affectionate psychology professor Sridhar Murthy. This book is the fruit of my mother’s tireless work to keep our lives organized, never letting any family responsibilities get in the way of research and my ever-inflating career aspirations. Without my parents’ childcare support, discipline, simplicity, honesty and commitment to life and rearing, I  would never have embarked on a full-time research career. To them  – my mother Saroja Udupa and my father Ulluru Nagendra Udupa – I dedicate this book. The first copy-editor for this manuscript has been our eight-year-old son, Ninad. After I read out the rather long opening sentence from an early draft, he promptly objected: ‘But, Amma, where is the full stop?’ His participation continued through the different stages of production. Just before turning in the final draft, when I was still debating on the title of the book, I heard him remark from the back of the car, ‘I think Making News in India is a good title. I don’t understand “global”.’

Notes on translation, pseudonyms and abbreviations

This work uses translations at various levels – recorded tapes of interviews into typed field notes, Kannada audio interviews into written English text and published text in Kannada into written English text. Many words in Kannada are retained and transliterated to capture, as far as possible, the ‘original’ context, meaning and scope. The English translation for these words and phrases are given in brackets. All the quotations and adjectives in Kannada that have been translated into English have diacritical marks to retain the distinct pronunciation tradition and the meanings evoked by the cadences of these sounds. Common proper nouns in Kannada, such as the names of newspapers, are italicized but rendered without diacritical marks. Proper nouns that are followed by the English translation are italicized with diacritical marks. Names of goddesses/gods also have diacritical marks. ‘Th’ for ‘soft t’ is used for names that do not have diacritical marks, following the common usage in South India. All translations of Kannada interview quotes and Kannada texts are mine, except when specified. Page numbers of newspaper quotations are provided where possible. However, when news stories are analyzed in bulk within a specific timeline, page numbers are not mentioned. News stories accessed online are followed by the Internet address and date of access. All news clippings are from the Bangalore edition of the publications. The real names of journalists are retained in most cases. When pseudonyms are used, a note will mention that the name has been changed. In places where disclosure of real names was found to be inappropriate, unsafe or unnecessary, the research participants have been referred to by their occupational title or other generic reference. All interviews quotations are drawn from the interviews conducted by the researcher unless otherwise specified. When interviews published in the newspapers are cited, the date of publication and other details are given.

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Translation, pseudonyms and abbreviations

Newspapers and institutions are identified with their full name at the beginning of each chapter followed by the abbreviation in brackets. In the subsequent sections of the chapters, only the abbreviations are used. A list of abbreviations with their expanded form is provided at the beginning of the book for reference.

Abbreviations

ABC ABIDE BBMP BIA BIAL BJP BM HAL IMRB IRS JD(S) KP KRM KRV NIE NRS TDR TH TOI TOIK VK VPL

Audit Bureau of Circulation Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure and Development Task Force Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Bangalore International Airport Bangalore International Airport Limited Bharatiya Janata Party Bangalore Mirror Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Indian Market Research Bureau Indian Readership Survey Janata Dal (Secular) Kannada Prabha Kavirajamarga Karnataka Raksan￴a V e‫ﷳ‬dike The New Indian Express National Readership Study Transfer of Development Rights The Hindu The Times of India [English] Times of India Kannada Vijaya Karnataka Vijayanand Printers Limited

xiii

Introduction: Urban deadlines – The twin mediations

In the 1990s, close on the heels of India opening up for foreign capital, the southern Indian city of Bangalore emerged, quite unexpectedly, as the outsourcing hub for the global high-tech economy. Global capital made its way into the city through new high-tech sectors of information technology and a motley mix of low-end business process outsourcing entities. In popular parlance, Bangalore became the ‘Silicon Valley’ of India, and a test case for what liberalization could do in the world’s largest democracy to unleash a wellspring of domestic entrepreneurial energies, challenging even the mightier West. Litterateurs penned books on the city, just when the Man Booker-award-winning novel The White Tiger offered a dizzying view of Bangalore – the center of outsourcing companies that ‘virtually run America’, where men with the gut of an entrepreneur could move from the ‘darkness’ of old India to the ‘light’ of new India.1 Perhaps no other city exemplified so vividly the ‘aspirations’ of globalizing India and the global South more generally. If Barack Obama warned American youth of the threat posed by ‘Beijing and Bangalore’ in the job market, lexicographers were quick to make Bangalore a verb to indicate loss of jobs in the West due to outsourcing. The eruption of the city onto the global marketplace was a sign of massive urban transformation under way, in Mumbai, Delhi and Pune, or Shanghai and São Paulo. This book uncovers a significant strand of the sweep of urbanization triggered by global capital in cities like Bangalore  – the dynamics of news media and their entanglements with urban transformation. At first glance, it may appear that a focus on journalists and news cultures might at best be a story of the media’s transformation in a changing city, with little or no consequence for how we understand urbanization in the latest phase of global capitalism or its salience in the tantalizing narratives of ‘Third World’ enterprise. Scholars of globalization and urban explosion in the global South pay little attention to the expanding media, treating it implicitly as a reflection of a broader transition. This book challenges this approach to media as a mere epiphenomenon, and shows that the 1

2

Introduction

commercial news media, especially the expanding newspapers and their army of journalists, played a critical role in the churning up of urban landscapes in postcolonial cities drawn into global templates of urbanization. It demonstrates how the flourishing news media in Bangalore are an important instance of global capital’s constitutive overlaps with media cultures in the developing world that confront the cities, their publics and politics. It shows, in other words, that the expanding news media and global urbanization are deeply interconnected. What happens when commercial news media multiply within transforming urban landscapes in thrall to new linkages with the global economy? What happens to news as a cultural-social practice invested in shaping public opinion when it finds itself in the middle of urban changes fueled by flows of global capital and rearranged regional capital? What is the nature of this inter-relation in a polymedia context where television news, FM radio and newspapers expand across overlapping fields of practice? These questions become important with the rapid expansion of media in India in the years of reforms, as with the ‘media wave’ in other countries in the global South. At the turn of the millennium, the rhythms of everyday life and politics in urban India were inseparable from the cadences of media narratives and the cycles of publicity they provoked. The transformations of the news media were telling. News audiences multiplied with the dramatic growth of private news entities in print and television. There was a frenzy of new launches of television news channels and news dailies,2 not to speak of the innumerable small ventures of niche publications, gossip papers and gaudy magazines with risqué revelations, busy enticing the readers into impulse buying. Newspapers reached more than 350 million readers, close to 39 percent of the Indian population above the age of 12 in 2011. Twenty of the world’s 100 largest newspapers were Indian. Newspapers expanded their circulation from five million in the 1960s to more than 250 million in 2010.3 If in other parts of the world newspapers were mired in fears of survival in a digital age and the new media expanded on small, hand-held gadgets, spurring new hopes of democratic participation in regions as diverse as West Asia, North Africa and Eastern Europe, the print media’s expansion in India continued apace. The press underwent significant transformation in the midst of the growing popularity of television and new media, but, unlike in the West, these transformations formed the core of a news explosion in India rather than being reduced to the anxieties of a quick demise. Expanding television and radio channels complemented and even financed the growth of the press, and no media platform was cannibalized by another. More importantly, the crossover of labor between

Introduction

3

print and television and common ownership in many cases established a shared habitus. A focus on newspapers was, then, not a chronicle of a dying medium. There was excitement around proliferating media as vehicles for citizens’ voices, and an equally widespread cynicism that the media were fully bought up by mighty politicians and businessmen who waste no time tricking the publics for selfish gains. The growth of news media was particularly striking in the city of Bangalore. Television and print expanded hand-in-hand, and all media platforms surged ahead to make the most of a growing middle class and their ‘consumption power’. The mid-1990s was a watershed moment for the city’s news media. The Times of India (TOI) group, the largest media house in India, which prides itself on publishing the most widely circulated English-language daily in the world, re-launched its Bangalore edition.4 With aggressive marketing techniques, colorful page layouts and freshly minted lists of news themes, the Times group boosted the circulation of newspapers in English and in Kannada, the regional language. Excited by the success of the Times group, other major national media houses eyed the city for market expansion, and the existing newspapers defensively revised their marketing and editorial strategies to retain and tap a growing readership. In the regional-language news market, a similar churning occurred when a local politician-businessman launched Vijaya Karnataka, which became the largest-circulated Kannada newspaper in quick time, with its claims to compete with television and older newspapers through colloquial and racy prose, meticulous distribution strategies and cover-price wars.5 As the news industry expanded in the city, and with it a hypercompetitive news ethos, criticisms about journalism and its falling ethical standards swelled not only among concerned citizens but also among professional journalists themselves. The narrative of decline enveloped the climate of news and its public reception, even as the galloping march of the news industry proceeded unabated. Amid this media makeover, what also took root was the TOI’s distinct discourse of aspirational ‘New India’ ready to take on the world with its liberalizing economy. Bangalore stood at the center of these imagined futures, with the high-tech sector the promised gateway. For corporate actors, liberalization-friendly state bureaucrats and a section of the English-language media, Bangalore was an exemplar for new linkages with the global economy – the very contrast to the trope of the ‘chaotic Third World metropolis’ construed in the Western imagination as ‘always in trouble, always needing remedy’.6 It was a star city poised to reap the benefits of globalization in post-reforms India and a model for ‘successful’ liberalization. The stereotyped sleepy city had transformed from a relatively marginal center in the national landscape,

4

Introduction

known for its state-sponsored higher education and public-sector enterprises in the 1960s and 1970s, into a symbolically powerful outsourcing hub for the high-tech industries.7 The changes followed the larger global trends shaped by transnational commodification of information, when the post-industrial Western economy looked to the promise of spatially flexible knowledge services and spatial disaggregation of business became a key strategy for capital mobility and capital fluidity.8 The postcolonial nation state’s investments in higher education and public-sector heavy industries in the city presented an opportunity for the global high-tech industries to establish their bases, as with the erstwhile Mysore monarchy’s modernizing efforts in formal education and industrial development in the colonial era.9 Excited by the new opportunity, regional governments promoted the high-tech industry with favorable tax policies, tax holidays, duty-free imports of equipment, subsidized land and several regulatory favors. Riding on the wave of global capital and state incentives, a new transnational class of computer software professionals and entrepreneurs emerged in the city with close ties with the centers of high-tech production in the West, alongside a significant number of expatriate groups serving multinational companies in the new economy sectors. Business success in the domestic high-tech industry soon spilled into the development priorities of the city. The eagerness to build a world-class city found an ally in the discourse of market efficiency peddled by the multinational aid agencies that had set foot in major subnational states in India.10 At the peak of the liberalization-friendly regional state regime (1999–2003), as Carol Upadhya demonstrates, the development priorities of Bangalore became even more aligned with the interests of this emerging class of high-tech industrialists, especially the domestic IT entrepreneurs.11 Corporate-sector representatives influenced policy processes through new institutions of ‘public–private partnership’. Parastatal bodies with corporate actors on the board were vested with significant powers in executing large infrastructure projects in and around the city. The rhetoric of ‘world-class infrastructure’ echoed the euphoria around ‘global boom-towns’ in the global South, with many mega-cities building urban infrastructure to compete with the global cities of the North and national economies contending to connect with the global marketplace through these ‘re-planned’ cities.12 Tacking between the global marketplace and domestic policies of urban revival, local capital was quick to reconfigure around real estate and ancillary sectors feeding on the new industries, spawning massive networks of profiteering. As a result, together with the IT boom and its symbolic arsenal of a ‘global city’ (the ideology of a globally competitive

Introduction

5

world-class city), Bangalore also became a key conduit for new networks of gray and black capital tapping the global demand for iron ore (especially from China) and other raw natural resources, and the murky capital was invested back into several sectors in the city, real estate in particular. All the while, new garment factories mushroomed on the city outskirts, feeding the global garment industry with unregulated labor standards and convenient nexuses with local authorities. The rising cultural prominence of young, cosmopolitan and consuming classes employed in the globally connected high-tech industries as well as the dominance of corporate and political classes exploiting the boom in the economy through canny networks of global–local capital was starkly contrasted with the experiences of exclusion and marginalization of a growing number of lower-middle-class segments and the urban poor, who faced the detrimental effects of rising land prices, precarious land titles and spiraling costs of services, including drinking water, housing, education and health. At the same time, the new economy sectors spurred consumer markets and employment-generating activities across various economic segments in the city, leading to a vast expansion of the unorganized sector and large-scale migration of unskilled labor into the city. The rapid growth of media thus occurred at a time when Bangalore underwent significant changes in its demography, political culture and economic makeup. In such a milieu, the expanding news media, this book argues, co-create urban cultures to deepen the class project of global capital, but in so doing, they animate multiple claims on the city that defy the evaluative divides between media as capital’s ideological factories or liberal democracy’s exalted spaces of ‘public’ deliberation. The divide between ‘dominance’ and ‘democracy’ runs through many recent studies on news media expansion in India, although not explicitly in relation to urban transformation. Indeed, urban transformation has rarely been a field of inquiry for journalism scholarship in India and elsewhere. Concerned with broader political cultures and democratic participation, a growing body of insightful scholarship has shown that post-liberalization media in India represent a definite departure from the avowed nationalist agenda of news media in the colonial era and the decades of developmentalist media when the postcolonial Indian state held a monopoly over television and promoted the ideology of media participation in its developmental agenda.13 Despite their common emphasis on the transition, the descriptive and evaluatory perspectives vary between what a seam of research considers as media-led democratic participation and a more critical account of the hypercommercialization of media, sharply termed the Murdochization of the press. Critical scholarship in

6

Introduction

the Marxist cultural studies and political economy traditions draw attention to the growing commodification of news that results in the ‘dumbing down’ and personalization of news, and the withering of its public agenda. This echoes popular denigration of infotainment media as well as criticisms within the Western academy on the growing market dominance over news and ‘journalism’s institutional reconciliation with its commercial function as a form of entertainment’ in the last three decades.14 The counter-claim that the ‘encroachment of tabloidized techniques and content’ has softened news, making it more accessible for diverse publics in regions like South America, appears far-fetched in these accounts of Indian media.15 Scholars argue that the historical association between colonial administration, the English language and upper castes, followed by the growing influence of the English-language press over policy-makers and corporate power in postcolonial India, ensures that the smaller, yet influential, elite English-language press normalizes the symbolic violence of the state and corporate power over a large majority of poor and marginalized people.16 Optimistic evaluations, on the other hand, draw attention to the avenues of democratic participation opened up by the expanding media, especially the growing field of regional-language press, which shape more inclusive domains of public debate by drawing diverse sections of people within the fold of legitimate news. This is evident, according to some studies, in the burgeoning Hindi media creating greater ‘political awareness’ in provincial India and prospects for political participation.17 Following the theoretical premises of public agenda versus capital interests, one would assume that greater commercialization of media leads to unequivocal pro-market urban discourse. In Bangalore, news media wedded to advertising revenue did not in fact create a uniform market-friendly urban discourse. This book unravels this puzzle by showing how news media’s interface with urban politics is shaped by global capital’s collisions with diverse cultural practices of news and their distinct genealogies and logics, foremost of the regional-language cultures of cities and caste practices among journalists.18 These varied systems of mediation and multiple logics of news instigate struggles irreducible to market power. To chart these struggles and their implications for urban transformation in the current phase of global capitalism, it is important then to move beyond criticisms that condemn the post-1990s Indian media – and commercial media elsewhere in the world – for commoditizing news and trumpeting market reforms. This book shows that the news media are not as monolithic as is often presumed in such criticisms. Neither is this a case of media-led democratic resurgence that successfully ‘resists’ class-exclusive projects of global urbanization. The thick

The Pink Chaddi campaign

7

mesh of mediations and variegated news cultures needs new concepts of media analysis  – beyond the normative divide between public good (development media) and private accumulation (commercial media). To illustrate this point, I  will begin with an extended description of two urban controversies in Bangalore that flared up during my fieldwork. The Pink Chaddi campaign ‘It is breaking news’, yelled a desk editor, ‘the live visuals are here.’ At a local television news channel in Bangalore, I watched the editor quickly process the feed and alert the team on the studio floor to insert it instantly into the live news bulletin. This feed was particularly shaky, the sort an amateur would capture. But the editor had little doubt about its value. The technical shabbiness was a sign of ‘liveness’, of authenticity, a proof of being there when the action unfolded. The feed had come from the coastal city of Mangalore, not far from Bangalore, showing male activists of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike (HJV, the Hindu Awareness Forum), a local right-wing Hindu nationalist group, barging into a ‘homestay’. Along the region’s coastline and the mountain ranges adjoining it, a string of homestays had sprung up on coffee estates and agricultural fields, when a number of households turned their bungalows into tourist lodges to reap the quick returns of micro-tourism against the faltering incomes of farming. In one such homestay, seductively named ‘Morning Mist’, the Vedike activists had appeared all of a sudden. In less than 30 minutes, they had vandalized and disrupted the birthday celebrations of a group of college students at the homestay. The activists pitched the attacks as a cultural war against the ‘decadent’ values of Western modernity, exemplified by the carefree youth parties of homestays. For them, the parties bore all the signs of ‘moral depravation’: revealing outfits on women, alcohol, dance, gyrations and the sheer audacity of socializing with the opposite sex. Concerned with how this episode would develop in the news media, I  stood focused on the editor’s next steps with the feed. I realized soon that a handful of journalists, including the channel’s Mangalore correspondent, had received the cue from the attackers well in advance to roll their cameras for an impending sensational action. The editor was aware of his crew’s presence at the homestay during the attacks and the ethical dilemma that such a presence could provoke, but the feed was too ‘live’ to be abandoned in the musty wrangle of ethics. The presence of the television crew at the venue, however, came under fire soon after, inviting criticisms of blatant connivance of local television journalists who were accused of failing to alert the police before turning

8

Introduction

on their cameras. The journalists on their part blamed the incumbent government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalist party, for orchestrating the event and bullying the journalists into admitting ethical collapse to obfuscate its own back-hand support for the attackers. The criticisms against the news channels mounted, even as these channels tussled to find the ‘best’ visuals capturing the attacks: young male attackers dragging the women in the party, pulling their hair, slapping them and forcing them to reveal their faces before the television cameras. The cameras had moved in sync with the attackers, matching their pace, tilts and turns. As quick as the attackers and the cameras that followed them, the live feed beamed into news bulletins across the region and, the very next minute, on national television channels. The newspapers were not far behind. Full-length pages displayed banner headlines, pull-out quotes, pictures, screamers, editorials and opinion columns. No doubt the presence of the television crew at the venue was a cause of embarrassment, since some of the papers sat awkwardly with these channels as sister publications of the same media company. If media ethics remained a part of the print media coverage, the incident itself flared in multiple directions in the media:  the Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) agenda of the BJP government fueling purportedly spontaneous attacks such as  those of the HJV; the morality of alcohol consumption among the youth; the rights of urban women (‘city girls’) to wear dresses of their choice; the ethical lapse of news-hungry television channels eager to seize the visuals of anything deemed sensational to remain at the top of the breaking news pecking order; the alleged sleazy networks of prostitution and sexual innuendo lurking behind unregulated homestays; the profitable ‘business’ of organizing public attacks with all the trappings of extortion and intimidation; the political ambitions of the underemployed male attackers; and finally, the symbolic charge of cultural war against Western modernity that had as many intricate dimensions as the incident itself. The attacks received widespread condemnation from newspapers in English and Kannada. If Kannada papers labeled the attackers as Dusyasana and Kīcaka – Hindu mythological characters embodying vice and violence against women – English-language newspapers invoked the image of the Taliban to liken HJV’s politics of sexuality to the violent conservatism of the Afghan militants. A few Kannada papers borrowed the frame of ‘Talibanization’ in their reports since major political leaders of the opposition Indian National Congress Party used the metaphor copiously in their strongly worded ‘sound bites’. As the episode disappeared from the media discourse as quickly as it had erupted, I realized that the controversy signified a broader dilemma of urban transformation, when ‘urban modernity’ stood as a sign of

The Pink Chaddi campaign

9

something larger, a portent of things to come. It also revealed that the expanding news media were at the very heart of how the cultural war was conceived and executed. The presence of the television crew and the promise of wide media coverage were not just significant but, by any measure, constitutive of the controversy. In their war against ‘decadent’ urban modernity manifest in ‘global cities’ like Bangalore and its spillover effects in smaller cities like Mangalore, right-wing activists (as well as the ideologically promiscuous underemployed youth) not only drew upon the gendered rendition of Indian culture that linked questions of sexuality with discourses of nation and tradition, but also made good use of the expanding media networks to maximize the effect and sharpen their claims on ‘the urban’. For the growing army of television camera crews and print journalists, the episode was apt for the day’s breaking news, promising captivating visuals of live action and loud sound bites. In many ways, the episode illustrated what this book considers as the constitutive overlaps between news media and urban politics in a globalizing milieu – media are the practical loci of power where value is constantly produced and contested through modalities that are tenuous and continually emergent.19 The homestay controversy revealed something more. The newspapers in English and Kannada mediated the event differently, reminding us that the bilingual nature of news fields somehow remains persistently salient for news cultures in this mix of things and suggests something further.20 Despite a common frame to criticize the attacks, the HJV activists’ alleged concerns about the cultural purity of the local land and depredations of Western modernity had leaked into the narratives of a section of the regional-language newspapers, however hushed and veiled. In Kannada Prabha, a major Kannada newspaper, columnist Vinayaka Bhat Muroor expressed surprise at the intense media coverage given to the event by the English-language media when ‘Mangaloreans are used to witnessing such common [mamuli] incidents’. Playing down the event combined with reflexive ethico-cultural commentary by the columnist on how it is bad to be ‘overly modern’ (tumba adhunika), just as it is not advisable to stick to too much tradition. Even while strongly condemning the attacks, the editorial in the paper remarked quite plainly that the women at the party had indeed not dressed like ‘gouramma’ – fully clothed, ‘traditional’, timid and often homebound women. The verdict was more openly divisive and the differences in the representational practices of the press in English and Kannada much sharper three years ago when a similar attack was planned against a group of pub-visiting teenage women in the same coastal city of Mangalore. In contrast to the homestay attacks, the vandalizing act by another Hindutva

10

Introduction

outfit, Sri Rama Sene (Sri Rama’s Army), in a suburban pub had seemed morally more ambiguous for the journalists and was less plainly communalized in the media narratives. As with the homestay attacks, the strong-arm tactics of the male activists were captured by a television crew who had accompanied the attackers, armed with prior knowledge of the attacks and ready with their camera. The first televised images showed the young men forcibly dragging the women out of the pub, beating them and parading their will to ‘cleanse’ their town of the ‘social evils’ that allegedly enticed young women into the traps of alcohol consumption. If Rama Sene activists claimed that pub visits by women were against ‘our culture’, ‘progressives’ backed by the English-language media condemned the attacks and upheld women’s right to drink, dine and dance. Soon, a group of e-enabled women activists based in Bangalore came together, called themselves a ‘Consortium of Pub-Going, Loose and Forward Women’ and started a campaign named Pink Chaddi (‘pink underpants’) on Facebook to protest the attacks. They urged women to send pink underpants to the architect of the attacks and chief of Rama Sene on Valentine’s Day. The protest’s use of pink chaddi as a symbol overturned the notion of privacy as a mode of political struggle through its clever reference to the brown shorts worn by members of the right-wing Rashtreeya Swayam Sevaka Sangha, the Hindu nationalist organization (invoking the popular sobriquet ‘chaddi brigade’ by which they are often known). At the same time, the use of the Internet enabled the activists to draw support from unexpected corners of the world. As with the homestay attacks, what intrigued me was the hesitation of a large section of the Kannada news media and a section of the English-language media to embrace the ‘liberal’ narrative of prominent English-language dailies aggressively defending the rights of the partying youth and the Pink Chaddi campaigners. For the English-language newspapers toeing the line of liberalism, the attacks symbolized a formidable barrier to the country’s onward march in the global marketplace and the very promise of ‘New India’ and ‘global-cosmopolitan Bangalore’. The liberal discourse around women’s rights symbolized the ‘youth spirit’, when ideologies of liberty and liberation were conflated with those of economic liberalization. For many Kannada journalists, it not only embodied a threat to their local cultural autonomy but it also reinforced their discomfort with the growing commercialization of news and the discourses of urban modernity peddled by the ‘new-age’ English-language newspapers launched or re-launched in the years of economic reforms. The English–Kannada binary was then not just a simple difference in news content and news frames, although this difference itself was highly uneven. It signified a larger tension in the semiotic

Beyond representation-dominance

11

economies of the news media, and how they intersected with urban politics. Nowhere was this binary more apparent than in the journalists’ narratives and the ways in which they related to the transforming city and to each other. How do we understand these tensions of a news field and the multiple struggles over the city they instigate? I suggest that the existing media theories rooted in the experiences of the West – which have also inspired a significant body of journalism scholarship in India – could fall short in exploring this.

Beyond representation-dominance: structured visibility

Normative Western media theories expect, and modernist assumptions presume, that journalism represents the voice of citizens and through its very operation of dissemination gives them a ‘public’ character, evoking a shared world of concern, action and mutual obligation. The theoretical framework guiding most discussions is the influential model of ‘public sphere’ and notions of Öffentlichkeit (public) elaborated by Jürgen Habermas,21 and, specifically, the ideals of critical citizenry holding the ruling governments and markets accountable to the autonomous public. Negative assessments too follow from this model, since the commercialization of media is argued, and rightly so, to be directly opposed to the growth of an autonomous public sphere free from market and state pressure. The vast body of global literature on journalism – beginning with the long history of normative assumptions around journalism’s critical institutional role in democracy and the entrenched self-definitions of the journalistic profession across the world22 – attests to this approach, and in some sense renders the invocation of the Habermasian public sphere model a ‘normal practice’ within media studies.23 The two controversies unsettle some of these assumptions about ‘transparent’ representation of liberal democracy and conceptual distinctions hinging on the divide between public good and private accumulation. The contestations over the urban during both controversies and the varying discourses of the journalists emerged within the commercial news media, signaling in some way the excess of practice inhering in the commercial model of news and in its interface with the broader urban field within which it is embedded. Equally, notions of cultural purity and linguistically shaped local land invoked by journalists and activists allude to forms of publicness that are crucial for how cities like Bangalore negotiate urban transformation today. These specificities are not mere departures from the ‘norm’. Rather, their recognition entails a critique of the public sphere model and the ‘universalist’ normative theories of the press. Chantal Mouffe strikingly captures these lapses:

12

Introduction

The failure of current democratic theory to tackle the question of citizenship is the consequence of their operating with a conception of the subject which sees individuals as prior to society, bearers of natural rights, and either utility-maximizing agents or rational subjects. In all cases they are abstracted from social and power relations, language, culture and the whole set of practices that make agency possible. What is precluded in these rationalistic approaches is the very question of what are the conditions of existence of a democratic subject.24

Mouffe’s critique is particularly relevant for discussions around news media in urban India since the abstraction of news publics solely as rational-critical publics effaces the distinct histories of colonial encounter, postcolonial developmentalism and linguistically shaped and caste-inflected debates around modernity, and notions of journalism in particular. Equally, to conceive of the news media as embracing the already-existing rational choices of public in a pure act of representation will obscure the multifarious social and cultural conditions within which print-mediated subjects emerge and get constituted. A brief overview of the particular regional history of Bangalore’s news media will make this point clear. In Bangalore, the practice of journalism as a distinct occupation involved in the art and business of publicity emerged in circumstances underwritten by the elite’s encounter with colonial modernity and the political cultures of royal patronage and kingly politics marked by frictions of caste, sub-caste and language ethnicity. In the princely state of Mysore in British India – of which Bangalore was a part – the strong presence and symbolic dominance of royal power confronted a steady expansion of democratic institutions such as the Representative Assembly and the Legislative Council, instituted as early as the closing decades of the nineteenth century. Although the original motivation to institute these democratic structures had less to do with enhancing people’s claim to power as with the royalty’s efforts to stabilize its authority after regaining control over the region from the British imperial power, the practices of democratic debate at these forums spawned varied effects.25 The co-existence of authorities with diverse lineages created a peculiar political culture where prevailing structures of social respect, public sycophancy and material dependence on the royalty existed in tension with ideas of individual liberty and representative democracy filtered through the interpretations of the middle-class literati.26 Practiced by a small section of the literati, journalism reflected these contradictions and relayed the interests of varied groups. There were Christian missionaries, nationalists, caste advocates, social reformists and pan-caste community leaders who parleyed their political interests and social agendas in the newspapers they published using petty personal savings and occasional

Beyond representation-dominance

13

patronage from the royalty.27 During the non-Brahmin movement in the early decades of the twentieth century, for instance, newspapers became vehicles for caste-based social mobility. Throughout the early phase of newspaper growth in the region, the narrative of the press as an institution in the field of modern power and an instrument of democratic politics was intertwined with practices of the traditional monarchical authority, caste alliances and language loyalties that served as strategic instruments of secular power, and religious sentiments as forces of social cohesion, conflict and means of struggle. Journalism helped build caste alliances just as it came to embody the effects of royal statecraft or represent an imagined Indian nation in the early decades of the twentieth century. The overlapping influence of caste, language ethnicity and colonial modernity on news cultures continued well into the twenty-first century as the region turned from being a ‘model princely state’ in British India into a model of New India. In such a context, it is important to qualify the long tradition of conjoining the ideologies of transparent representation and Habermasian public sphere with journalistic praxis, and also the critical ‘cultural industry’ model of Horkheimer and Adorno that sees in the commodity form of culture an inherent tendency for absolute suppression of individual consciousness leading to uncritical, overwhelmed, homogeneous and obedient ‘masses’ and authoritarian or aestheticized politics. As we saw from the controversies, journalists, Hindutva attackers, Pink Chaddi campaigners and a range of audiences who were dragged into the mediated controversy did not display passive reception. Equally, the notion of ‘Kannada publics’ imagined as distinct from ‘culturally degraded city people’ did not demonstrate a transparent act of representation. If anything, these publics were contingent, concrete, historically inflected and political, who defied the transcendental telos and transhistorical models, whether it be representation/rationality or dominance/submission. The purpose of positing contingency is not to dismiss the structural constraints and symbolic violence of capital but to recover analysis of concrete social and cultural determinants shaping inhabited milieus and the multiple moves of advanced capitalism.28 The significance of the bilingual dynamics of the news field and the experiential salience of the Kannada–English binary for the journalists in both the controversies, as well as the regional history of journalism in Bangalore, lead me to propose a different model to understand news media’s interface with urban publics – what might be called ‘structured visibility’. This framework allows us to take into account the fundamental mediation of journalism as rendering visibility to publics, while acknowledging that these publics are diverse and emerge as a result of

14

Introduction

intersections between the field of journalism and the broader field of power defined by heterogeneous cultural logics and social practices. In developing this framework, I  draw upon John Thompson’s compelling discussions on ‘mediated visibility’ and its contradictory effects on structures of power.29 Visibility signals the expansion of what Hannah Arendt theorized as the ‘space of appearances’ in which things said and done could be seen and heard by others, infusing it with a distinct reality that would not have emerged otherwise. Mediated visibility proceeds in ways that the relations between visibility and power are no longer confined to the Foucauldian notions of panopticism in which visibility of the many to a few is exercised primarily as a means of social control. Instead, mediated visibility becomes a double-edged sword since it can simultaneously provide the means of control for the elite as well as erode their power. The arenas of visibility are relatively more dispersed, open and accessible.30 It is useful to consider mediated visibility as double-edged, but I argue that mediated visibility is structured and not undifferentiated in its ‘openness’. While the nature of this structuring depends on the varying contexts within which the media find themselves, it is increasingly structured in urban India through the revived ideologies of regional languages  – as we saw during the pub and homestay attacks  – and caste practices, among other forces. This is not to say that the specificities constitute India’s ‘essence’ or that liberal ideas of publicness are irrelevant in the Indian context. However, the interactional history of liberalism and colonialism31 emphasizes that the social structures of public domains and the colonial regime that drew upon and reframed them within various regions in India need to be accounted for in any discussion on news media’s entanglements with urban publics today. As Rajnarayan Chandavarkar recognizes, this is also partly a result of the colonial state’s policies to ‘avert its gaze’ from existing social forms of power ‘in which dominance was asserted, contested and sometimes perpetuated with some degree of freedom from the systematic operation of the rule of law’.32 I suggest that the intersection of these norms of sociality, cultural values and political cultures with the field of news practices structure the mode of visibility made available by the news media to diverse voices, rather than the sheer profusion of media avenues or their presumed representational capacities. These could then be termed as ‘structured visibility’ and not merely ‘mediated visibility’. They point to embedded structures of sociality constantly reproduced, reframed and even effaced in the news field by multiple actors in a shifting urban milieu. Through their mechanisms of structured visibility, the news media enhance, if not always guarantee, the chances for democratic participation, bringing to the fore a range of claims and imaginations about the city radically divergent

News media’s mediation

15

from state-sanctioned or corporate-driven agendas. It is important to consider these participations as ‘democratic’, since democratic politics constitute political contestation between diverse interests drawing on multiple modes of engaging state and corporate power, as Mouffe persuasively argues in her theorization of agonistic democracy.33

News media’s mediation: desire

If structured visibility is a key mediation of the expanding news media, it is itself occurring in the larger context of growing commercialization of media and the induction of diverse sites and spaces into global circuits of production and consumption. During the pub attacks, for instance, the TOI hailed the Pink Chaddi campaigners as the true voice of ‘global-cosmopolitan Bangalore’. How do we understand this celebration and the TOI’s conflation of the ideas of liberalism, liberalization and liberty as the underlying drumbeat for the Pink Chaddi campaign? How did the paper, through this conflation, co-create new urban subjects and their activisms as the ‘aspirational urban youth’ challenging old Bangalore? I will elaborate in Chapter 1 that the TOI relied not only on price wars and polychromatic page layouts for its market success, but also on the cultivated vision of a ‘global city’ for Bangalore that fueled a narrative of global urban modernity. We will see in the subsequent chapters that these efforts played a significant role in constituting consumption and urban modernity as the central tropes for the liberalization discourse, the new middle class as its primary agent and the city as its key spatial articulation. This discourse emerged in the context of urbanization’s crucial contribution to the globalized economy,34 when new occupational ideologies and consumer lifestyles remade urban landscapes in India, and land became, as with the original drive for urban expansion, an important commodity for capital’s investments in fixed assets such as infrastructure, housing and construction of offices.35 Studies on other Indian cities point to the distinctive urban renewal agenda shaping bureaucratic actions and corporate interventions in the years of liberalization. Marxist critical studies have emphasized the class-exclusive project of the global city and the increasing market dominance over distributional and democratic goals of urban governments, whereas postcolonial urban theorists qualify Marxist metanarratives and its assumptions of class-based ruptures in the new era by drawing attention to colonial forms of governance that continue to shape the disjunction between citizens and subjects in contemporary cities.36 A distinct strand of postcolonial urban studies, now designated as the

16

Introduction

‘anti-plan’ critiques, argues that the formal structures of urban renewal agendas backed by the state and market disrupt organic forms of urban belonging, while these socially embedded forms of urban living also subvert the universalizing design of global capital.37 However, the common thread of observation across these studies is that the expansion of urbanization in liberalizing India is marked not only by greater (if not unprecedented) migration flows from rural and semi-rural areas to urban centers, and conversion of agricultural land into urban peripheries, but also by important cultural shifts that underlie developmental programs. As these studies recognize, the discourse of the world-class global city as a futuristic developmental goal made its way into policy discourses in these years, and bourgeois activism emerged as an important force in large cities leading to new forms of environmentalism, concerns about sanitation, aesthetics, recreation and art.38 These decades also witnessed the sudden expansion of new enclaved spaces of residence, offices and leisure (gated complexes, high-tech corridors and shopping malls), alongside wider claims to create ‘legible spaces’ benefiting the middle class and the elite,39 which infused the public domain with ‘a new consumer logic where class can be playfully performed and affirmed as care of the self ’.40 In the context of urban transformation under way in India and a broader swathe of globalizing postcolonial economies, and the deeply interlaced workings of news media in these shifting urban landscapes, I  suggest ‘desire’ as an alternative concept of thematization to understand journalism’s mediation. For this analysis, I borrow, albeit in a very limited sense, Deleuze and Guattari’s theoretical revision of the concept of ‘desire’, which steers it clear of the psychoanalytical and modernist (universalist) underpinnings, to locate it firmly within the social field.41 Deleuze and Guattari recuperate ‘desire’ from the psychoanalytical assumption of a ‘fundamental lack’, which according to Freud and Lacan constitutes the subjectivity of an individual striving to overcome the absence of the object.42 Turning this logic on its head, Deleuze and Guattari argue that desire is not the effect of lack, but the inverse. The primary gesture of their thesis is to emphasize the productivity and materiality of desire which is constitutive of the social field, and that ‘social production is … desiring-production … under determinate conditions’.43 Deleuze and Guattari argue that the deliberate management of wants, needs and lack under capitalism reterritorializes the auto-producing desire with decoded forms of value extraction. This reading of Deleuze and Guattari agrees with Bourdieu’s suggestion that ‘[o]‌ne of the tasks of sociology is to determine how the social world constitutes the biological libido, an undifferentiated impulse, as a specific social libido’.44

News media’s mediation

17

Specifically, on the mediated nature of desire, a large body of literature has explored the effects of advertising media and new consumption sites to understand their strategies of appeal and enticement (if not in connection with the Deleuzian concepts). However, these studies presume desire primarily in terms of the manipulative, fantastic and seductive aspects of advertisements’ mediation for commodity consumption, often within functionalist frameworks.45 While commodity consumption is a very important element of urban desire mediated by news practices, they are not, as we glimpsed from the two episodes, limited to manipulative aspects alone or to consumer durables alone, nor indeed to mere cultural construction of leisure and affluence. The TOI sided with the Pink Chaddi campaigners as part of its strategy to ‘connect’ with young readers as the quintessential aspirational citizens of New India and offer news as an ‘embodied’ experience  – a point I  will elaborate further in Chapter 2. This suggests that news media co-create publics through the discourse and practices of desire-as-aspiration, which extend beyond the realm of consumer commodities into new imaginations of urban revival, civic activism, cultural ascent, social mobility, body and self, and results from a range of mediations that go beyond mere manipulation. The growing commercialization of news media is significant in mediating desire-as-aspiration, as they seek to simultaneously expand commodity markets (advertisers) and their own readerships through the ideologies of ‘urban boosterism’46 and urban modernity, while at the same time driving sets of multifarious aspirations as unintended outcomes of its drive for commercial expansion. In marking journalism’s mediation as ‘desire’, I point to the important aspect of legitimating aspiration as a material and embodied form of social production and the affective economies of urban revival and futuristic urban imaginations it provokes. I  advance this point without importing the full conceptual apparatus of Deleuzian desire, whether as a critique of the paradigms of psychoanalysis and historical fascism in Europe, or its ethical project of counterposing radical non-egoic politics of desire against power. Mediated desire reveals how the seemingly unrelated ideas of consumption, civic activism, beautified bodies, corporate leadership and responsibilized citizenry were merged into a dominant sensibility of legitimate aspiration of the new reader through journalistic practice and market logics of news production. Throughout the book, ‘desire’ refers to ‘mediated desire’ in the delimited sense described here, although the prefix is omitted in many subsequent uses for easy reading. With Mark Liechty and his illuminating study on middle-class groups in Nepal, I contend that ‘desire’ is necessarily a class project and even the so-called cultural transformations of the TOI-style newspapers’

18

Introduction

cherished reader groups are ‘less about “westernization” than about the making of a local class culture’.47 This very class project developed a distinct form of desire-as-anger at the turn of the millennium, transforming the aspirational ethos of breaking away from the decadent political order and ‘traditional India’ into a more general angst against the perceived failures of actors as varied as the state, patriarchy and religious chauvinists. Ironically enough, the discourse was aggressively tapped by the right-wing BJP to rise back to power in the later years of liberalization, when it seized the flattened plaque of desire where what mattered was only aspiration and its public expression of anger, and any reference to forms of cleavages and inequalities was a dangerous throwback to old-style politics.48 Desire-as-consumption and desire-as-anger did not then sit in an uneasy tension, but represented different moments of the same mediated sensibility around ‘New India’. I will return to this point when I discuss city campaigns against the urban political class and nationwide protests against corruption in Chapter 2. Broadly, I suggest that contemporary news media’s mediation within rapidly transforming cities like Bangalore could be considered in terms of ‘structured visibility’ shaped by specific norms of sociality and cultural values such as language sentiments underpinning news practices, and ‘mediated desire’ constituted through the growing commercialization of news media and a particular manifestation of neoliberal urban transformation in India congealing around consumer modernity and the ideology of the negative state versus the enabling market.49 I define the twin mediations of news – desire and visibility – as a tension, since the desire-enabled discourses of global-urban modernity come into direct conflict with socially structured democratic visibility. The media, and the news media in particular, depend on regulating this tension to reproduce themselves within the complex matrix of commercial interests and historically inflected news cultures. While the tension between desire and structured visibility might have always existed in the social field of news, I suggest that it has come to define the nature of contemporary journalism as a pivotal structure of conflict, after undergoing a specific global-urban turn in its character. Further, I show how, within the regnant order of global capitalism manifest as global-urban desire in Bangalore, structured visibility can assume divergent forms of expression and embody diverse political subjectivities. As the pub and homestay attacks illustrated, these subjectivities became territorialized culture, Hindu public and linguistic community all at once, articulating with the historical fault lines already available, and revealing, in turn, their own unstable, if not uniformly retrogressive, politics. I offer the concept of ‘bhasha’ media – the second key argument of

News media’s mediation

19

the book – to capture this heterogeneity and divergent outcomes of news mediation, and to grapple with, in some measure, the messiness of news fields in a changing urban milieu. Bhasha media (Chapters 4 and 5) designates a self-reflexive and performative realm of news practices articulating its difference with global urban modernity and its classist underpinnings through the very structures, histories and bilingual dynamics of the news industry, as news fields intersect with the broader field of uneven urban transformation. Bhasha is the news ethos that represents an important constitutive force underlying the mediation of structured visibility. Here, I draw upon and rework Arvind Rajagopal’s influential thesis on ‘split public’ and important discussions on ‘vernacular media’ in the South Asian context advanced by Kajri Jain, Robin Jeffrey, Mark Allen Peterson, Ursula Rao, Per Stahlberg and other scholars, but with divergences elaborated in Chapters 3 and 4.50 Bhasha is not simply regional-language media, but a sensibility and a set of practices that is more likely to be present in the Indian-language media (owing to the conditions the subsequent chapters will describe), but it is also prevalent among a section of English-language journalists. With imaginations of regional-language news publics as well as ‘ruralized’ Bangalore,51 bhasha disrupts the discursive regimes of global capital that articulate the supralocal as an idealized space for capital advancement or valorize the local as sites of capital’s difference production. However, bhasha defies romanticized accounts of progressive subversion, since it reinforces historical forms of dominance and their collusion with capital just as much as it obstructs newer variants of exclusion. As Chapter 5 will argue, bhasha does not denote a realm severed from the English-language media, but through constant references to the English–regional language binary, it forces us to examine the conditions that brought bhasha to the fore and the varied politics animated by it. This is similar to Timothy Mitchell’s analytic on the effects and processes of the distinction between state and society ‘as an aspect of more complex power relations’.52 Bhasha is then not an ontological argument that posits a clear and static divide between regional-language publics and English-language publics, or between the news values of English- and regional-language media. It denotes the sentiments and discursive activities shaped by flexible market segmentations and cultural logics of regional language and caste, and how journalists interpret them as they interface a changing city and experience changes unfolding in their own professional field. More important, it points to the new and revived social functions taken on by regional languages in the globalizing urban milieu. The divergent news discourses and news cultures of bhasha co-create a constantly

20

Introduction

shifting mediated arena of conflictual claims on the city, where the ‘daily renewal of legitimacy’53 is as much a work of media as with the diverse audiences and authorities they serve and confront. Perhaps no other news organization exemplified these changes and conundrums in urban India as strikingly as the Times group. At the time of the fieldwork carried out for this study, the mainstream, ‘general interest’ print news media in Bangalore was dominated by the Times group, with all the top newspapers in the city  – the most widely circulated English-language broadsheet (TOI), the second most widely circulated English-language daily (Bangalore Mirror, BM) and the most widely circulated Kannada daily (VK) – owned and run by the biggest media house in India.54 The subsequent chapters will demonstrate that the Times’ rise to dominance did not merely coincide with the changing urban landscape of Bangalore, it stood as a pivotal site where the field of news production and the cultural politics of urban development intersected in a co-constitutive relation. Bourdieu’s field theory provides us the analytical devices to unravel this dialectic between the internal dynamics of news media and broader urban transformation – which leads to the third key argument of this study.55 The news media’s entanglements with urban politics are shaped not only by spatial and cultural articulations of global and regional capital, but also by the internal struggles for dominance and difference among various actors within the news field – journalists, newsrooms, news companies and brands.

The dialectics of mediated urban politics

This book draws on Bourdieuan field theory in two specific ways: to disaggregate the news field and account for the multiple struggles within the field among various news actors for legitimacy and power, and to signal the dialectical relationship between the field of news production and the wider field of news audiences it comes to serve, represent and co-create. The first part concerns an exploration of the workings within the field of journalism and not merely workings of the news media, a point that Marxist-critical scholars and public-sphere optimists have inadequately addressed, except in the abstract sense of competition and rivalry. It is then useful to approach the news media as a semi-autonomous ‘field’ with distinct capital and conceptions of control, and constituted by various subfields with their own logic and rules of game. Crucially, these internal struggles among cultural producers are, according to Bourdieu, overdetermined by a similar field of social positions of the audiences they correspond to, through a logic of homology:  ‘the functions they fulfill in the internal struggles are inevitably accompanied by external

The dialectics of mediated urban politics

21

functions, which are conferred on them in the symbolic struggles among the fractions of the dominant class and, in the long run at least, among the classes.’56 The power of the system of differences resides precisely in the misrecognition of this homology and to consider differences in cultural tastes/production as natural and essential differences. Although it is possible to interpret the logic of homology in functionalist terms and describe the symbolic order as instruments of power in which forms of knowledge are effects of mere position-taking by various agents, a more careful reading of homology would allow us to see it as a dialectic embodying specific cultural and symbolic content. Such an interpretation also offers a compelling methodological framework in which both the internal workings of the news media as well as the larger structures of power could be brought into analysis in relation to each other. Throughout the book, I alternate between focusing on the internal practices of the field of news and the wider social field of Bangalore city, to understand the nature, content and consequences of what is defined as the tension between desire and visibility. The growing body of anthropological scholarship on journalism is significant in advancing this inquiry, since these studies have opened up new lines of exploration through their textured understanding of the everyday practices and experiential reality of journalism. In Ulf Hannerz’s words, anthropological approaches to news media unravel the ‘everyday artifacts of journalism’ with an eye for the values, beliefs, ideologies, traditions and myths undergirding the journalistic profession.57 Alongside bringing valuable comparative perspectives from the global South and moving beyond universalist assumptions of news,58 media anthropological studies have repositioned media producers as cultural-political actors embedded increasingly within complex intersections between global forces and local dynamics of media and capital.59 Underlying many of these studies is the ‘practice framework’, which asks ‘what people do that is related to media’ and how media unfold as embodied sets of activities and reflexive discourses (including those of the researcher) within varied social-cultural contexts.60 These anthropological approaches deepen political economy questions on news media’s role as an institution in the structural context of state and market. To trace the connections between news and urban politics through the frameworks of ‘practice’ and ‘field’, I  drew upon my several years of experience of working as a bilingual journalist in the very city of Bangalore and my enduring relations with the journalistic community. I carried out fieldwork between 2007 and 2012 with ethnographic observations and interactions inside the newsrooms of major newspapers published in English and Kannada, primarily those of the Times group.

22

Introduction

Inside the news organizations, I  sat through editorial meetings, interviewed executives of the marketing, brand and circulation departments, interacted with locally stationed senior management executives, chatted with the journalists on the news floor, and shared gossip, anxieties and laughter along the way. I examined the news texts they published, as well as alternative textual production in informal blogs that provided a forum for the journalists to exchange gossip and sanctioned misinformation, often under pseudonyms, as ways to express dissatisfaction (and dissent) with the management and senior editorial colleagues. A vexing issue concerned the audiences. When I presented my research on news-making practices, I constantly had to confront the question on the audiences and how I have done no justice to the ways in which readers relate to the representational practices of the press and to the varied forms of civic activism mobilized and organized by the newspapers. While audience reception is no doubt important and the absence of audience research in this study never ceased to nag me, I share the belief that the field of news production assumes importance for the institutional role and technological effects it embodies. More significantly, the field of news production is increasingly mediated as much as it mediates the experience of reality through growing networks of reader-contact activities, audience imaginations, audience feedback and trans-organizational socialities. I have tried to push the scope of reception into newer areas where the blurred boundaries of production and reception deeply intertwine, as we saw during the pub attacks and other similar urban conflicts. In these mediatized sites and mediatized moments of contestations, the presence of journalists is not a sign of mere professional efficiency. Rather, their presence is central and constitutive of the events, even as the so-called members of the audience turn into news protagonists and provide the steady drip-feed of news for the rapid production cycles of news, in a circular loop of constant movement between producers, audiences, onlookers, messengers, strategists and even those who are disinterested and unwilling. These interlinked, interstitial spaces where media production and reception ramp each other up in urban conflicts call for new ways of approaching media reception that take us beyond the reading or viewing contexts set within domestic spaces. Further, they emphasize the need to overcome the message-centric analysis of media that privileges the sender–receiver dyad, to instead unravel the semiotic and political contexts in which news actors (including the audiences) enter into relations of mutual signification. To parse through several mediatized conflicts in the city thus became a key research strategy. To take my fieldwork beyond the newsrooms, I also had conversations with journalists and groups of journalists outside their official locations

The dialectics of mediated urban politics

23

of work. I hung out at professional associations for city-based journalists and the hotbeds of political activity in the city such as Vidhana Soudha (the state legislative house), the headquarters of major political parties and the Chief Minister’s official residence, which served as key sources of news but were also occasions for journalists to socialize, exchange news and gossip. I moved with the news narratives around the city, following the people who made, remade and enacted them in a changing urban milieu. In this book, I  seek to link the particular lifeworlds of journalists with the effects of the texts they produce, traversing multiple registers within which mediation unfolds. My research angles into contexts of different orders:  the newsrooms of prominent news organizations, inter-organizational news fields, trans-organizational spaces of sociality, contexts of local cultural and literary worlds, the context of urban transformation in all its materiality, the political contexts of the region and the social-cultural-ideological contexts of caste and language. The broader context of global capital frames these tangible immediate contexts, although it does not reduce them to any singular logic. By no means are these nodes and contexts in the interlaced circuits of news production exhaustive. However, they might represent an important strand of relations that coheres around the news media and animates the city of Bangalore in significant ways. As with all research work, I do not pretend to hide the caveat of bringing my own experiences, preferences and pleasures into how I conceived and executed this research or how I angled into certain strands of relations and not others. I should then admit that this ethnography is not the result of a single, if extended, period of stay in ‘the field’ as an ‘over-determined setting for the discovery of difference’.61 Nor is it an outcome of a series of chance encounters and aleatory relations. It is an ongoing conversation with the city and the news community with whom I grew up as a student, a bilingual journalist and, later, an academic researcher-in-making. From this location of an insider-outsider and all the challenges, limitations and benefits that come with it, I have tried to get a sense of what the news explosion could do for a city like Bangalore, and postcolonial cities more generally, in the current phase of global capitalism. I should then also admit that this research has been a long process of catharsis. The angst, frustrations and failures of my tryst with journalism remained as a gnawing underside of my fascination for the profession – its ideals, vanity, glamour and unending possibilities – and the city of Bengaluru, its charm and challenges. I have not found easy answers yet, but in the process of reflecting upon and exploring journalism and Bengaluru through the enmeshed position of an insider-outsider, I captured for myself, and hopefully for a wider

24

Introduction

audience, the quotidian realities, everyday sympathies and the profound politics of the two preoccupations closest to my heart.

Plan of the book

The first half of the book  – Chapters  1 and 2  – will explore the news strategies of the re-launched edition of the TOI in Bangalore since the mid-1990s, and the changes they introduced across the news field. The Times story typifies new notions of news and newsrooms that emerged in close relation to economic liberalization in India, and how they mediated neoliberal visions of urban renewal and urban citizenship. The focus will be on the new forms of mediated desire and civic participation advanced by the TOI and its various strategies to define, capture and co-create the ‘new urban middle class’, as part of its re-launch strategies. The Times management and the TOI newsroom, as a shifting organization, are the key agents in this transition. The second half of the book closely examines the larger news field and journalistic community, specifically the cultural politics of the regional language and caste practices among journalists. This part demonstrates how the desire discourse of the TOI remains contested both as intended and unintended outcomes of the commercial logic of news production as well as the cultural logics and multifarious demands cohering around the symbol of ‘Kannada’ and caste practices within the news field. Together with ethnography, this part will draw on historical resources to understand language politics and caste practices of the regional news field in Bangalore, to reveal how colonial and postcolonial histories inform contemporary news cultures. The ethnographic material thus begins with the Times of India’s re-launch in the city as an important moment of transition, which provides a crucial entry point to explore news cultures in the years of liberalization. This starting point is also important because the 1990s, as argued earlier, was a momentous period in the history of Bangalore since it emerged as a new node for global high-tech production. The book highlights the past and elaborates on the historical formations of the news field in the subsequent chapters to present a more nuanced account of the transition. The rise to dominance of TOI-style journalism in Bangalore, elaborated in Chapter  1, heralded a new phase of commercial journalism in urban India. I  discuss the organizational rationalities behind the re-launch and the ideological edifice of ‘the new urban middle class’ that constituted new definitions of news and news audiences. Focusing on the TOI newsroom, I highlight the changes that went behind the scenes, the growing salience of the branding department, the new advertising mantra of ‘localizing’ news content and the mandate before the editorial

Plan of the book

25

department to serve ‘monetizable readers’. Together, they reveal the context and content of global-urban desires shaped by and shaping the TOI’s revised strategies. These desires spanned the emblems of consumer modernity such as Page  3 (celebrity journalism) and luxury real estate to new imaginations of corporate leadership for the city. The significance of Bangalore for recasting the news audiences in terms of ‘desire-asaspiration’ for the TOI’s national news strategies reveal the connections between the shifting status of Bangalore as a global city and the paper’s marking of the new urban middle class. I show how the organizational pedagogy and the English-language journalists’ own sense of victimhood at the hands of the postcolonial, ‘corrupt’ state cemented mediated desire and reinforced the notion of the negative state and corrupt political class. I demonstrate how the discourses around desire-as-aspiration set the stage for a particular form of middle-class and corporate civic activism, actively promoted and organized by the paper in the city. The TOI campaigns demanded better physical infrastructure and efficient government services, and publicized a range of appeals crafted on behalf of the city’s middle class and corporate sector. These city campaigns and similar ‘reader-connect’ activities of the newspaper form the focus of Chapter 2. Chapter  2 develops the idea of ‘patterned permeations’ to describe new newsroom practices of the TOI that relied not so much on the promise of objectivity and just-in-time information as on offering news as embodied urban subjectivity with no burden of truth claims. They present an important case where the practices of print media in an age of informational capitalism pre-empt digital interactivity and inscribe the urban as ‘global’ city through numerous newsroom innovations. Patterned permeations enlisted specific reader groups and celebrities into the routines of news-making by inviting them as guests in the newsroom or to edit the pages, often turning such visits and reader participation in news creation into extraordinary events worthy of reportage. Taking these permeations a step further, the paper also involved the selected reader groups and celebrities in various city campaigns as part of its strategy to ‘connect’ with the readers. I suggest that patterned permeations are modes of co-extending private desire into the public domain of city politics via the intermediary of brand logics. In illustrating this point through a specific TOI-led city campaign, I also point to the ‘spillover’ effects of these campaigns: how they advanced democratic contestations among the lower-middle-class and migrant groups of the city over bureaucratic, political and corporate heavy-handedness in urban development. The TOI-led middle-class civic activism, however, reached its most definitive limits in contending with the issue of urban poverty. The limits

26

Introduction

of ‘democracy by default’ are signaled by the systematic exclusion and, at times, neoliberal framing of the poor and marginalized sections of the city as entrepreneurial subjects of liberalized India. However, taking my lead from what journalists referred to, with astonishing regularity, as the differences between the English- and regional-language media, I  extend the lens to the wider field of news production in Chapter 3, to foreground the bilingual nature of the news field in Bangalore and situate the desire discourse of the TOI within this broader intra-institutional context. If news is the product of the journalistic activity of publicizing, how is the act of publicizing itself influenced by the bilingual and variegated nature of the news field? Rather than reiterating the notion of an essential difference between ‘elite’ English-language newspapers and ‘subaltern’ regional-language newspapers that are ‘hermetically sealed off’ from each other, I argue that the differences are commercially and relationally driven in the common field of news production. Drawing on Bourdieu’s field theory, I  specify the relational aspect of bilingual media with three analytically distinct, but overlapping practices within the field of news production, to reveal how the ‘logic of difference’ of the news field brings various publics into the boundaries of legitimate news and publicity. First is the market logic of difference played out through reader segmentations and readership surveys. Second is the set of imaginations and mental-maps of readers that persist among journalists in their attempt to translate abstract management guidelines into day-to-day news operations, but also dialectically linked to the larger differentiated social field of audiences they assume to serve and represent. Third is a more direct application of field logics – the struggle for difference and dominance within the field of cultural production played out through mutual references and antagonism among various players in the field. By examining these three processes of articulating ‘difference’, I show how the very structures and processes of commercial news production, translated by a community of journalists with their subjective understanding of the news rules, systematically exposed, publicized and strove to legitimize various publics within the city. If Chapter 3 highlights the organizational and inter-organizational processes behind articulating ‘differences’ between the English and Kannada news publics, Chapters 4 and 5 examine the content and context of these news publics. I move beyond newsroom-centricity to examine the larger social field of meanings and shifting economic realities of cities that bear upon news practices. Departing from the Habermasian public sphere model, I bring to the fore the diverse sets of meanings, norms of sociality and cultural logics underlying journalists’ work. Do these news practices shape alternative discourses about the city and hold democratic potential

Plan of the book

27

for sections of people other than the ‘new urban middle class’? I discuss two key axes along which these alternative discourses and news practices converge and get constituted  – the cultural and political repertoire of ‘Kannada’ (Chapter 4) and caste networks (Chapter 5). Building on and revising some of the influential theories of the ‘vernacular’, I develop the framework of ‘bhasha’ media, which speaks to the interlinked aspects of cultural distinctness, perceptions of temporal primacy, intimate address and inextricable connections with formal politics. I  draw on Ernesto Laclau’s ‘populism’ model to consider Kannada as a partially empty signifier, to show how ‘Kannada’ assembled the reading publics other than the English-speaking bourgeois and corporate votaries of neoliberalism as an intelligible category for the journalists. Journalists drew on the historical meanings associated with Kannada and infused it with diverse sets of demands to negotiate the English-language-media-driven global agenda for Bangalore. In tandem with language ideologies, caste practices shaped the struggles between different news actors, who strategically used caste identities for personal benefit and also ideologically identified with them to promote their own caste groups. Within the news field there were blurred boundaries between affective bonds, instrumental ties and professional networking – these multiple strands often converging in caste identities. As a weapon of war in the internal struggles of the news field, both ‘Kannada’ and ‘caste’ shaped news cultures that consciously subverted, inadvertently confounded or simply remained oblivious to the neoliberal precepts of TOI-style journalism and the global-urban discourse shaped by them. If the meanings around ‘Kannada’ and caste practices affected Kannada journalists most strikingly, they were salient even among a section of English-language journalists who increasingly experienced the disconnections between the management-led discourse of the new middle class and their lived experiences of the city. These fissures within the English-language news field were similar to caste and Kannada insofar as they brought visibility to heterogeneous sections of the city population. The last section of Chapter  5 examines these fissures in the English-language news media through the modular site of the TOI news floor. The patterns of visibility shaped along the axes of language, caste and internal fissures in the elite English-language news media came into striking conflict with the discourse of a world-class city, and the ideological arsenal of corporate excellence, a decadent state and an aspirational middle class constituting it. I  parse through several conflicts in the city to illustrate how the confrontation between mediated global-urban desire and structured visibility co-created a constantly shifting arena where diverse visions of the transforming city jostled for legitimacy.

28

Introduction

In the conclusions, we will see how this ethnography of news cultures in Bangalore speaks to broader scholarship on news, globalization and democracy, especially the intense debates on what globalization can do to journalism and its stake in shaping democratic cultures in an age of new media explosion.

1

Regimes of desire: The rise of the Times of India

SU: ‘How do you know that new readers like fashion and Bollywood news?’ P: ‘Don’t ask me. Ask Times of India.’

I am inside the newsroom of Prajavani, the second largest Kannada newspaper, interviewing Padmaraja Dandavathy, the paper’s chief reporter and a seasoned political journalist. The soft clicking sounds of the computer keyboards in the air-conditioned newsroom cut through the buzzing noise of unending traffic just across the office, on the plush Mahatma Gandhi (M.G.) Road in the center of Bangalore city; the sounds of street vendors selling peanuts, scarves, city maps and sandalwood figurines to foreign visitors; and the loud chatter of college students, middle-aged shopkeepers, affluent homemakers, policemen and autorickshaw drivers sauntering on the neatly laid footpath. Dandavathy had just finished his daily visit to the state legislative house – ‘the Vidhana Soudha rounds’ as the journalists call it – and had passed the swarming street to walk up to his office. The main editorial office of Prajavani and its sister publication in English, Deccan Herald, lies inside one of the oldest buildings on M.G. Road. The papers started here as early as the nascent years of India’s independence. The building is also one of the largest on the highly priced commercial artery of the city. A bright reception area and the sales front office occupy the ground floor, hiding layers of older offices that run deeper inside, leading finally to a new multistoried building with offices for the editorial, advertisement, circulation and marketing departments. The wide doors of the front office stretch almost onto the footpath, as pedestrians pass a glance over the digital scroll mounted right above the main entrance to display breaking news headlines. There are piles of Deccan Herald and Prajavani newspaper copies available for sale at the corners where the doorway merges with the footpath. People walk in and out of the front office at a languorous pace to place classified advertisements or to wait for a meeting with journalists. Newspaper agents lean across the bulky office desks to have a word with the staff, and negotiate subscription packages and incentives. 29

30

Regimes of desire

Dandavathy’s office is in the ‘new building’ nested deep inside the complex, with narrow stairways and narrower elevators leading up to the Prajavani (PV) editorial section on the third floor. The main news floor in the new building is flooded with bright white light and soaked in the chill of air-conditioners. Computers are stacked on the tables in neat rows and columns. Only heaps of papers scattered at the corners disrupt the aesthetics of seriality. Dandavathy has a private office at the corner of the newsroom – a privilege reserved only for the most senior executives. Inside, as Dandavathy finishes up a quick telephone chat with his colleague, I ask him about the much celebrated ‘new reader’ of post-1990s India, repeating some of his professional colleagues’ claims that India’s ‘new reader’ has an insatiable appetite for fashion and Bollywood news. Without missing a beat, Dandavathy replies, in thinly veiled dismay, that only the TOI would have the answer. It is not the first time I have heard about the TOI group’s influence over the news field or how it changed ideas of news and news audiences, but Dandavathy’s piquant remark appears to me as a summary expression of journalists’ envy and contempt for the TOI, and the undercurrent of pressure to follow the TOI’s model of news. The office of Prajavani–Deccan Herald is just a few meters away from the TOI’s main office on the M.G. Road. Dandavathy constantly turns his head in the direction of the TOI’s office – or so it seems to me – as he answers my questions on the changing notions of news and readers. I notice that his office, a tinted-glass chamber, has been implanted rather abruptly onto the much older brick and cement walls. The mismatch between the shining glass and the old, load-bearing walls gives the impression that the paper is trying hard to catch up, with the Times, with the ‘changing times’. The pressure to keep up with the changing times, which translated for the most part into mimicking the TOI market model of news, stemmed from the paper’s swift rise in several prominent cities in India, when the Indian media opened up to the first sweep of liberalization policies in the early 1990s. By their own account, large news publications of the country, like the Deccan Herald group, had little choice but to pay attention to the Times formula, even if it meant crafting an editorial policy distinct from this model. Such was its influence that, by the turn of the millennium, a prominent management executive at the TOI could confidently assert, ‘All newspapers find fault with the Times of India in the beginning and then fall in line.’ The influential role of the TOI in reshaping post-liberalization news media in India is a widely debated theme in popular and academic commentaries on the Indian media.1 Although by no means acting alone in

Regimes of desire

31

the new news agenda, the Times group was at the forefront in leading the Indian news media’s transition to the worldwide trend toward infotainment. Sensing competition from global players in the new media market and the growing challenge of the regional-language press as well as the opportunity to capture an expanding consumer market in the liberalization years, the TOI’s new management under Samir Jain, who had taken over the family business, openly embraced the market-driven model in the late 1980s and aggressively pursued the plan to boost the circulation and advertisement figures of the paper across big cities in India.2 With market rise came scathing criticisms of dumbing down and selling out the sacred profession. In the words of critics, Jain ‘deromanticized’ news and likened it to other consumer products such as soap and toothpaste, turning the focus from ‘by-line to the bottom line’.3 Caustic epithets for the Times of India as ‘Paid News of India’ circulated widely, accusing the paper of unabashedly publishing paid content without the slightest indication of its status as sponsored material. Yet, no newspaper was ready to ignore the paper’s market model. In 2012, The New Yorker featured a special story on the rise of the TOI model in India, quoting a pithy remark by senior journalist Krishna Prasad: ‘The toothpaste is out of the tube. It cannot be put back in.’4 This chapter shows how the re-launching of the TOI in Bangalore was one of the first indications of the toothpaste spilling out of the tube. Alert to the unique demographic and economic shifts unfolding in the city after the high-tech boom, the Times management rolled out a new market-led agenda for news and new organizational structures to advance the revised plans. In the subsequent sections, we will see how the expansion of the TOI in the city depended on the newly configured status of Bangalore as a global technology hub and the networks of desire that the new economies helped to unleash. Conversely, the chapter will also demonstrate how the newly articulated forms of mediated desire were co-constituted by the TOI in its struggles to dominate the news market and define a new audience, in the midst of changes provoked by the liberalizing economy and the broader news field. Conceptually, the questions relate to the dialectical relationship between a neoliberalized habitus installed by the TOI inside the newsroom and the production of a similar habitus in its audiences, as part of the ongoing struggle for dominance and difference within the news field and among the class groups in the city. Here, I draw upon Bourdieu’s formulation of ‘fields’ as sites of contestation over symbolic and cultural capital, convertible as structures of access to tangible resources, including, as we will see, the urban resources of a changing city. This analysis reveals the ways that a commercially driven newspaper in a competitive

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Regimes of desire

news field co-created the performative display of wealth, status and civic morality, which became the key locus for a new class of urban Indians to seek social and symbolic control over cities in the post-reforms period. While the rest of the chapters will complicate this picture, including the fissures emerging through a section of TOI journalists (Chapter 5), the objective of this chapter is to show how the news discourse of global city and aspirational readers staked its claim in the public domain with organizational restructuring backed by strong management control and hands-on interventions of top and middle-level executives inside the TOI.5 As described in the Introduction, such interventions in urban transition can be approached as ‘mediated desire’. In exploring the interconnections between news fields and urban politics, I describe the content and context for four interlinked aspects of the TOI-enabled discourse of desire – imagined global city as the ideal local; real estate; Page 3; and corporate icons. In many ways, these were the sites and signposts for the TOI-enabled mediated desire, which were especially pronounced in the city of Bangalore. What was the intra-institutional context and the local history of the news industry that prompted and shaped the desire discourse, and the aggressive restructuring of the TOI newsrooms aimed at driving this discourse?

Chatpata news: redefined field and reimagined audiences

In contrast to flourishing print media in other major cities in post-independence India, the news field in Bangalore was not particularly striking in its size, even as late as in the early 1990s. The colonial hangover of the nationalist press and pro-Congress loyalty gripped the regional field for a long time, even as a class of domestic news proprietors slowly began to expand their business.6 The decades of the 1940s and 1950s saw the beginning of large-scale news production in the region when newspapers started to diversify their content beyond national-political news and became more ‘specialized’ in their organization of work. These markers echoed the discourse of journalism as a modern profession espousing values of objectivity, but also crucially conceived as a ‘commercial enterprise’ requiring ‘big’ capital rather than personal ventures sustained on petty savings. With the arrival of modern printing technology, journalism no longer remained an inexpensive occupation. The new generation of news proprietors (Prajavani, Kannada Prabha, Udayavani) had diverse business interests, from healthcare and private education to alcoholic beverages and banking; some of them from the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu also introduced English-language newspapers in the city (The Hindu and The Indian

Chatpata news

33

Express). Owing to large investments in printing technologies and distribution networks, the circulation of daily newspapers in English and Kannada expanded, and deepened the news media’s political influence. Following the unification of Kannada-speaking regions in 1956 and the emergence of new regional political parties in the 1970s, most prominently the socialist ‘Janata Party’, which was at the forefront in challenging the dominance of the Indian National Congress, newspapers in the region became more diversified in their political orientations.7 Largely because of the socialist turn in the dominant political culture of the time under the influence of Jayaprakash Narayan in Karnataka and the simultaneous activism of socialists and left-leaning intellectuals in the theater and other cultural spheres, many newspapers raised questions of social justice and redistribution, simultaneously sparking the popular image of a journalist as a khadi-clad, impoverished and committed public service worker, firmly clutching a notepad, with a jhola hanging on the side.8 Even in the early 1990s, the most widely circulated English-language newspapers in the region carried these sedimented histories of the regional news field. The Indian Express was known for its bold and aggressive editorials during the Emergency years (1975–1977), Deccan Herald prided itself on a long history of advocating the voice of the backward classes for preferential access to state services and equal social status with the upper castes, and The Hindu was distinct in its critical reports on rural issues, inequality and social marginalization. At the same time, all these newspapers were commercial ventures with their own set of political friends and foes. Among the English-language newspapers in Bangalore, the TOI occupied a distant fourth position in circulation volumes in these years and was nowhere close to contending for a dominant position. The TOI could establish itself in Bangalore and move up the ladder only by aggressively challenging the market dominance of the Deccan Herald group and competing with The Indian Express, The Hindu and other major English-language dailies for readership. This scenario prompted and helped the TOI to install its new news format in at least two ways. First, owing to the paper’s poor market performance in Bangalore, the TOI management had little to lose with its new experiments with news. A senior editorial member of the Times group revealed that ‘Bangalore was an experimenting city for the Times group, a place to test out things.’ Second, without such a radical revision, it had but little chance of penetrating what was perceived as a saturated market. It was then both convenient and strategic for the TOI to introduce the new news format by re-launching its Bangalore edition, following similar changes in Delhi in the early 1990s. In Delhi and other regions, the TOI’s ‘innovations’ stemmed from its efforts to respond to an expanding and increasingly

34

Regimes of desire

aggressive news market, including competition posed by the vernacular press and television news. Under the direct supervision of the TOI’s ambitious new owner Samir Jain, the paper radically revised the themes and presentation of news in its editions and adopted a distinct pro-market perspective in its stories. Within four years of the re-launch, the TOI moved from the fourth position to become the most widely circulated English-language daily in Bangalore.9 The market gains of the re-launched TOI were so large that the existing English-language papers in the city defensively revisited their news policies and the newly launched papers blindly modeled themselves on what was enviously perceived as the TOI’s ‘recipe for success’. Although journalists often saw the TOI as a threat rather than a model, they uniformly felt the pressure to mimic the paper’s news agenda. In 2008 alone, two large English-language dailies  – Deccan Chronicle and DNA  – launched their Bangalore editions, making little effort to hide their affinity with the TOI-led market model.10 The older newspapers too felt the pressure to change. Bangalore’s rising status as a global city was important for the revised news agenda of the post-1990s TOI and other new English-language newspapers, since the city, at least in the eyes of the paper’s management, demonstrated what the private sector could achieve if the ‘obstructing state’ retreated from its regulatory impositions. If, on the one hand, Bangalore emerged as a key destination for outsourced hi-tech and back-office work, the TOI, on the other hand, relied on the image of ‘successful’ Bangalore to articulate and validate its pro-market discourse. The paper sensed the changes earlier than its competitors and was prescient in recognizing the demographic shifts within the city in the wake of its growing importance as a global outsourcing destination. Within a decade following the tech boom in the late 1980s, there was an influx of migrants from various parts of the country drawn to the high-paying technology jobs of the global industry, as well as a new transnational class of returning diasporic tech workers in the city. The TOI management identified these migrants and ‘home-grown’ high-tech professionals as a new lucrative readership market, constituting a subculture distinct from the non-IT ‘native Bangaloreans’.11 A senior editorial member at the TOI traced the transition and the city’s ‘leap’ into the future: Around 1996, Bangalore was taking off and reaching a new level. IT was coming and people’s values [were] becoming much more cosmopolitan [than] before. We wanted to change ourselves in tune with the new Bangalore. We took off at a time when Bangalore took off. That made the difference. We brought out an edition which was good for new age Bangaloreans … the changing Bangaloreans. The new population of Bangalore thought differently, thought big.

Chatpata news

35

Implicit in this assumption was a belief that the non-IT Bangaloreans did not live up to the expectations of cosmopolitan, meritocratic and aspirational ‘new’ Bangaloreans representing a putatively new ‘upwardly mobile middle class’ of India. This new middle class was believed to be disillusioned with the political class and disgusted with political news, and excited by the achievements of the corporate industry, especially how it had demonstrated liberalized new India’s entrepreneurial prowess to the West. This assumption about the new reader was partly aided by the readership surveys carried out by private market research agencies hired by the paper, but also rested heavily on the interpretations of senior executives of various departments of the paper.12 As Todd Gitlin pointedly argues, ‘the … task is not accomplished simply by avowing the goal of profit. They [media professionals] are still thrown back on the problem of knowledge’.13 The challenge before the TOI was thus to comprehend the changes in the city and gain an understanding of the readers in such a way that they could be shaped and mobilized into effective demand and profitable audiences for the paper. Echoing liberalization-friendly discourses within the state and powerful multinational marketing agencies, the executives at the TOI interpreted the changes in the city as the emergence of a new middle class marked by conspicuous consumption and high levels of disposable income, and an ‘explosion’ in the aspirations of other sections of the city’s population to reach the level of this enviable class group. A senior management executive saw this as a paradigm shift that needed a serious response by the news media: It was felt that there was a need for a new paradigm in the light of the mobility of the readership. And Bangalore being a place where a guy is comfortable in Malleswaram [an old neighborhood] as well as Manhattan in terms of aspiration. [If] you are comfortable on the Brigade road [in Bangalore], you are comfortable everywhere … that kind of a person was not being catered [to] by the boring, dull, drab offerings existing at that time.

The focus was firmly on the young professional class whom the executives believed ‘drove the mall and IT revolution’, aspired to high-quality education and abhorred formal politics. ‘Change’ and ‘upward mobility’ were the key tropes in the discourse of the new reader, as Jayanth Kodkani, a senior editorial member at the TOI, described expressively: Our readership, as we imagine, is between teenage to forty … primarily young, upwardly mobile. By and large, we are trying to look at what could shape the opinion or reflect the opinion of the teenage reader. We are trying to be reflective of the changes. Change was reflected in the city itself – new malls, branded clothes are coming up. There is value attached for higher education, premium put on higher education such as IIMs, IITs [Indian Institute of Management and Indian Institute of Technology]. Politics, by and large, party politics took a

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back seat, because youngsters are no longer interested in the nuances and intricacies of party leadership and so on … In Bangalore, Times is one of the papers that spotted this early on and our readership grew in large volumes. It was hardly 30,000 in 1995, by 2000 we had already crossed one lakh [100,000] and more. In the next three years, we had beaten Deccan Herald which means we had crossed 2.5  lakhs [250,000]. This growth is remarkable, not seen in any city, for that matter, in India. We moved with the city, we kept pace with the changing times.

As Kodkani reveals, ‘moving with the city’ involved not merely a reflection of changes but also their creative reinterpretation. There were changes in the city’s demography and social landscape reflected through the marketing lens of the management, and at the same time, the paper was aggressively trying to establish itself as a new-age newspaper and distinguish its new image from the existing players in the field. It was here, in the very struggle to define the readers and gain dominance within the field of news production – both by being different and imposing the definition of news/ audiences upon others in Bourdieuan formulation – that a new news agenda was unrolled by the re-launched edition of the paper in 1997. To cater to the assumed ‘new’ readership, the paper introduced extensive changes in its layout and content: offering what a senior editorial executive described as ‘chatpata stuff’ (crisp and tangy) with more color and graphics and greater advertisement inserts, as well as longer news features with opinion, comments and snippety background information. Page layouts became strikingly polychromatic, displaying flashy pictures of models, cinema stars and wealthy businesspersons. The front page underwent a transformation in these decades, signaling a shift from the predominant convention of informational address in the post-independence years to a combination of visual appeal, entertainment and ‘soft’ news. These changes followed global trends in the newspaper industry to incorporate the latest printing technologies of color, visual effects and chromatic appeal, and the general direction in reporting styles globally that had, as Michael Schudson reveals, ‘grown more informal, more intimate, more critical, and more cynically attached or distanced over the past two generations’.14 The re-launch of the TOI with these stylistic and thematic changes was pushed robustly by the circulation department through deep cuts on the cover price and predatory invitation prices,15 including tactics such as breaking the trade association of newspaper distributors in the city to wrest a group of vendors to its side. Circulation managers explained to me that the business strategy was to ‘immediately grow large, gather mass’ and gain circulation numbers so that they could be ‘monetized’ in the near future. To this effect, the senior management radically restructured the organizational hierarchy within the paper by bringing the advertisement, circulation and editorial departments operationally closer, in such a way that the editorial department no longer enjoyed complete control over news

Chatpata news

37

content and page layouts. This implied a further decline in editorial autonomy, since the editor was under pressure to interact with other department heads to decide the ‘right mix of news stories’, their size and display. Although the management gave the editor complete freedom in day-today operations, so that the legitimacy of the paper was not threatened by overt advertiser-friendly news coverage as well as for organizational efficiency, it expected the editor to be always available for market-friendly news decisions and the marketing initiatives of other departments. On the news floor of the TOI, no one was surprised to see a circulation executive or a member of the advertising department waiting to meet the editor or to witness meetings between executives of all these departments to discuss special ‘inserts’ of promotional content in day-to-day news decisions. I could notice the department heads and other executives staying in constant touch, at times with tense faces, on how best to integrate a ‘circulation initiative’ – a public event organized by the paper to boost circulation – with editorial coverage, to maximize publicity and, in turn, monetizable audiences. The editor in most cases approved and facilitated such ‘coordinated’ measures to boost circulation and advertisement revenue. Editorial autonomy shrank further with the setting up of a separate branding department for the Bangalore edition in the later years of the re-launch. Often, the editorial members on the news floor referred to the brand director as ‘super editor’. This was not without reason. The branding department set the ‘tonality’ of the paper and the format of the paper by fixing the number of pages for local, national, international and sports news. The branding team had recently stopped the editorial team from giving publicity to single brands in their coverage of events, unless it was paid for. Only stories that alluded to multiple brands in a generic context were allowed to go without a fee. This was one of the many supra­ editorial decisions of the branding department, which created a strictly defined business ethos of maximum gains and minimum revenue leaks as a framework for news decisions. Franklyn James, known to his colleagues as ‘Tiger’, headed the aggressive circulation department in the TOI and was at the forefront in pushing the circulation figures upward after the paper’s re-launch in the city. I had sought a formal appointment with him before arriving at the large conference room on the second floor of the Times main office. The Times group had rented several offices across the city, although the one across M.G. Road was dedicated entirely to the English-language TOI and was by far the most prestigious of Times locations in the city. The offices of the circulation and human resources department were spread on the second floor, and the editorial newsroom occupied the third floor. James, in his fifties, had a spacious private office on the second floor. He was jovial and witty, although his caustic humor bespoke his unyielding leadership style

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in the department. As he recounted the Times’ heroic rise in the city’s news market, he remarked with a pinch of sarcasm that ‘[t]‌oday’s editors are marketing friendly. The editor lends a helping hand and cooperates if it could chip in some revenue for the company.’ In English papers, the editor’s personality is not important. James’ sarcasm and his strong presence in the company gestured to the transformed role of the editor from that of a key commentator for the paper on issues of public significance to that of an ‘operations manager’ who moved about in the newsroom to interact closely with the editorial staff, ensuring the smooth flow of news, deciding the content for the front page and managing several outreach activities of the paper, besides bridging the interests of the marketing department with editorial narratives of news. Other wings of the paper underwent similar changes. James’ department was renamed the ‘research and marketing division’, with newly recruited management graduates sending out teams of young and aggressive salespersons to do door-to-door publicity and sell subscription packages. Following the organizational changes in other city bureaus of the paper, the advertising department was renamed the ‘response’ team to position it as a ‘communication solution provider’ offering consultancy for media buyers to ‘aggregate audiences’ rather than merely selling advertisement space in the paper. In the words of a young advertising executive, they were not there ‘to sell print’, but to ‘sell a solution’. ‘And the solution’, he continued, ‘could be print, radio, outdoor, internet, on-ground event. We call it platform agnostic.’ These organizational changes gained ground quickly, as the older editorial team was replaced with a new team of journalists, including an editor poached from another newspaper who was seen as open to marketing initiatives. James summed up the re-launch strategies of the TOI with a theatrical punch: ‘It was like a jigsaw puzzle, and we won. One plus one became twenty for us. Whole was more than parts.’ The steep increase in the circulation volumes of the TOI in Bangalore was thus pushed by a range of aggressive marketing techniques and massive organizational restructuring. Crucially, these measures revealed that the growth of the paper did not simply result from an ‘accurate’ reflection of a ‘new reader’ already available for representation. The ‘apotheosis of the consumer-citizen’ was normalized through a series of rigorous organizational, marketing and circulation tactics as part of an ongoing struggle for dominance and difference within the field of news production.16 These tactics and struggles complicate the claims of the TOI management and several journalists that a new reader had ‘naturally’ emerged in the changing city of Bangalore and globalizing India, and that the paper was merely reflecting the reality and bucking the trend. As I have mentioned, there were at least four aspects of ‘desire’ articulated

Local paradise

39

and narrativized by the TOI to frame the cherished new reader and to cater to their perceived needs, in the context of the broader demographic and economic shifts in the city. The first, detailed in the next section, concerned the very definition of what the city should mean to its readers, and how the city should assume particular forms of a desired ideal local.

Local paradise

How many of us eat more pizzas than vada [a local fried snack]? Very less. At the end of the day, we are vada eaters! We are interested in selling. We wish to give what people consume the most. Local and fast moving – that is what we are giving in our newspaper. K.R. Sreenivas, Editor, Bangalore Mirror

In his spacious, air-conditioned office, the editor of Bangalore Mirror (BM) sits on his swivel chair and converses enthusiastically about the new vision for news he is tasked to implement in the recently introduced city daily of the Times group. A seasoned reporter covering technology and city beats for the TOI, Sreenivas has been recently shifted to head the Times group’s ambitious city tabloid, or what the management calls a ‘compact’ paper. Conforming to the management’s market plans, BM is decidedly local in its feel. In Sreenivas’ words, it is a hot vada wrapped quickly for an audience that has local taste and less time – those looking for spicy breaks in a speeded-up routine. The editor grooms his team to prepare the vada and package it for fast circulation, with a daily coverage of ‘sensational’ news, bold visuals and stories designed to ‘provoke’ reader interest, as vada would do for the vulnerable tongue. Among the morning English papers, BM was one of the earliest to focus entirely on city news and limit its circulation to the city market. After Sreenivas took over as the editor, BM recorded impressive growth, and in just three years after its launch in 2007, it became the second largest circulated English-language daily after the TOI in Bangalore. BM’s approach to local news was part of the Times management’s broader emphasis on the city as a news market and an ideal space to articulate ‘global-modern India’. Reflecting the global trend toward prioritizing local news and partly in response to the expansion of the English-language television channels,17 the Times group turned toward local news as a potential new market. It was among the earliest in the English-language media in India to realize that local stories could fetch profits from local advertisers. Until then, the local advertising economies were largely tapped by the regional-language newspapers and smaller local players.18 This decision by the TOI, made in the early

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1990s, anticipated several future trends, including a possible growth in the affluence of regional and local markets. In fact, in 2004, ‘print made roughly 12 billion from local advertising, that is, advertising directed at any local print vehicle, either nationally or locally owned’.19 Backed by marketing surveys of potential growth in local revenues, the Times management in Mumbai and Delhi rolled out an agenda to step up localization by increasing the number of pages dedicated to local news and planning new formats to present them. Ironic as it may seem that the agenda for ‘localization’ was set at the highest level of the organizational hierarchy within the paper and not at its ‘local’ centers, the new focus nevertheless received a great push across major urban editions of the paper, resulting in larger volumes and better displays of city news. Senior editorial staff in Bangalore referred to surveys on the US press to justify this decision: We did a survey and saw that, in America, mainstream papers did not sell as much as local newspapers. Miami Herald did well. And then there was Washington Post [which did not do well]. We did a survey at the highest level [of management within the TOI]. We found that people craved for local news – [they were saying] you tell me what is happening in my neighborhood first and then in Washington or Mars or Jupiter … to give more of local news, to give more of neighborhood news was a very conscious decision.

Supporting this crucial decision was the ‘branding’ team, a relatively new member in the news-making community. Fresh with the advertising mantra of ‘localization’ spelt out by the corporate advertising sector in the decades of liberalization,20 the newly empowered branding team set out to define a distinct and appealing brand image to the product, which in their case was a long-standing newspaper started in the pre-Independence era. Borrowing from the precepts of the corporate advertising sector, the brand executives within the TOI developed a strategy to fuse the national image of the paper with local sensitivity. While the paper did not want to lose its image as a ‘national’ English-language daily, it strategized to capture the new market in Bangalore by offering to simultaneously connect with and befriend ‘the local’. A branding executive, who had graduated from a top management school in the country and joined the TOI after a brief stint in a consumer products company, explained it with examples drawn from popular advertisements: As a TOI reader, I am not a local person. TOI is not a local brand. But there should be local connectivity. So we need to balance between local and national … To give a crude example, if you have to be in Bollywood, you need to know Hindi. It is not okay to say you know only English! It is how you position your brand these days. Similarly, you need to be local. But you cannot change your personality. It is a national brand! At the same time you cannot alienate yourself from the local flavor! Take Coke for example. They use Ganesh [local Kannada

Local paradise

41

film actor] for their ads. For me, coming from Bombay, he is very down market! They have Kareena, Saif [Bollywood actors] and all in the national ads. But in Karnataka, they have taken Ganesh. So, it is important to have the local flavor. You may have seen the advertisement for Idea [cellular phone services company]. They use Abhishek Bacchan [Bollywood actor]. Abhishek is a national property. But the lines in the ad are about the Kannadigas [native Kannada speakers]. It is a mix of both [local and national]. It is how you position your brand these days. Local connectivity is very important for any brand.

The branding executive’s vacillation between the local and the national was revealing. Although not entirely successful, there was a concerted effort to strike a fine balance between the local and national focus of the paper. This was accompanied by a clearly delineated geography of news audiences within the city. The scalar level of ‘the local’ was frozen at the metropolitan city, which was itself divided into several strategic geographies, making occasional exceptions to include economically stronger Tier 2 cities in Karnataka.21 Driven by unprecedented reliance on advertisement revenue,22 ‘the local’ mantra translated into segmented slices of readership markets within the city assiduously targeted by the editorial, advertisement and circulation departments. After the initial spurt in growth, the mandate before the circulation department was not to enhance bulk volumes, but to design target circulation pockets in ways that the advertisement department could optimally ‘monetize’ them. The management made all possible efforts to ensure that these circulation pockets were consistent with the consumer groups targeted by various advertisers for the paper. The executives called it the ‘BUMD’ formula: the TOI was a ‘Bangalore Urban Morning Daily’ catering to a demarcated urban audience. The reporters were thus quick to recognize that a pothole on M.G. Road in the central business district invariably made news in their paper because the editorial policy spelt out that ‘M.G. Road is Bangalore’s hub’. A senior member of the circulation department explained: We don’t go all over the world like the villages. I rather have it at Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. Even within it, I rather have it in Cantonment [formerly under the direct control of the colonial military authorities] where there is disposable income so that my advertiser who wants to sell a plot or a Honda city car would be interested. As you know, Koramangala, Indiranagar and such areas have people from that [desirable high] income group. We don’t focus more on Chickpet or other such areas [with low income]. Therefore, with the paradigm shift [news as product], what kind of readers you want also gets redefined. It is ad-relevant circulation. So, I will not be wasting time having agents all over the place. I want them in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. Even within them, I slice and dice.

The segmented ‘slices’ of the local were not empty market categories drawn out to capture lucrative readerships, but were imbued with cultural

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Regimes of desire

meanings, since there was growing pressure on the journalists and other department heads to make sense of this newly carved out ‘local’ in terms of how it translates into the specific reading preferences of the desired audience. Drawing on the wider discourse of globalization and deterritorialized production available among the elite corporate actors and strategic bureaucratic actors in liberalized India, and reflecting the rise of what Michael Pinches calls the ‘new rich of Asia’ with a ‘common capacity for discretionary spending’,23 the management and news executives in the TOI together filled ‘the local’ with specific cultural content. There was also a new group of cultural intermediaries – advertisement professionals, urban planners, architects, wedding and wellness experts and event managers – assiduously shaping the discourse of a world-class city and the new middle class cast in the imaginary of the ‘good life’ in Bangalore and other megacities of India.24 Deeply influenced by this broader discourse and partly creating it, the Times management imagined the newly defined ‘local’ to be free from obdurate fixations with the ‘place’. On the other hand, it embodied ‘cosmopolitanism’ that shunned ‘traditionalism’ and dubbed all linkages with the place as reactionary. The ideal inhabitant of this local was mobile, flexible, economically ascendant, culturally accommodating and overwhelmingly young. Spurred by my questions on ‘stereotypes’ about localities and their inhabitants in Bangalore, a senior management executive at the TOI expressively justified this approach: they are not stereotypes. We call them perceptions. If you are from Basavanagudi, you have to be a Brahmin [upper caste], you will go to Kadle‫ﷳ‬kai parise, DVG road, Bull Temple … period. [When I protest that I am also from Basavanagudi, he teasingly remarks] You may be a cosmo-Bangalorean. It is incidental that you happen to be from Basavanagudi. Cosmo-Bangaloreans are accepting, accommodating and with a scientific bend of mind, who would order a beer when his family is around without any hesitation.25

Although I argued with him a little longer to rebut the stereotypes around an old locality, I realized soon that the executive repeated the management line of global modernity and infused it with his own understanding of the city as a resident of Cantonment Bangalore, which has been distinct from South Bangalore since the colonial times.26 The executive defined a (desired) break from the markers of the traditional city – the remnants of the village fair in the groundnut festival (Kadle‫ﷳ‬kai parise) celebrated in one of the oldest localities in Bangalore and all the cultural habits embodied by this archetypal old city neighborhood. In the first move, thus, ‘the local’ was divorced from the rural. In the second move, the local was given a cultural ‘character’ symbolized by drinking beer and a demarcated geography within the city. Ironically, this

Local paradise

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spatial re-mapping within the city was guided by a sense of the local as de-spatialized and suffused with global connections. This de-spatialized local was valorized and idealized in an effort to cater to ‘the new reader’, as a senior editorial member described: Even localization is not local in the geographical sense. It is local in my context. This is what is driving newspapers post-liberalization. So my value system should change with that context in mind. What are the implications? I may not have a story on farmers’ suicide in Nashik. News is driven by the value of immediacy to me [the reader]. But even if I have a clearly defined reader, if there are fifty suicides in Nashik and there is a certain pattern to it, there is a story to tell my readers. I may write a story on it. If one farmer dies every day, I will not publish a news story of one paragraph. But after six months, if I discover that all these fellows died because of penury or drought, I  may take the story. It is easy to romanticize the other side of India and say that we ignore them. Of course I have to ignore them, they don’t read my paper. I am sorry I put it very bluntly …

The senior journalist’s remarks were indeed not without remorse. As he elaborated on the cultivated de-focus on rural issues, he was parroting the Times management line, but in such a way as to come to terms with it and resign himself to it as a top-down order. Even the branding and advertisement executives carried on with the set formula partly as a result of the strict performance-based and revenue-linked pay policy installed by the management. One day I noticed that a brand executive was in a somber mood in her little glass office. The executive revealed that their salaries had been cut because of a slump in the advertisement market. ‘Even the editorial members are upset. How can they do this to us after performing so well?’ she vented. In the face of reduced security against pay cuts and their knowledge of how these cuts were determined by the profit-based performance of the company, executives and journalists rarely transgressed the Times policy, including the visions of the world-class city.27 For the Times management, ‘the local’ had to be consciously marked as ‘the urban’ since urban readers constituted the primary and most profitable readership market for the paper. However, the exclusively urban local was also seen as needing correction both in terms of physical infrastructure28 and cultural etiquette, to meet the ideals of an impeccable global city. If the rapid growth of the city and the attendant infrastructure problems fed into this notion of inadequacy, a sense of cultural lag stemmed from the paper’s perception of itself and its audiences as occupying an exalted and elevated position vis-à-vis the local-language papers as well as the older English-language papers and their publics. The effect, if not the original intent, of this positioning was to render the Kannada media as incompatible with the new ethos of upward mobility and the visions of a global city. The TOI marked physical infrastructure,

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Regimes of desire

especially highways, flyovers, drains and power, as the most important issues for the city, infusing the stories related to these issues with a sense of urgency. Since the management had devalued the conventional ‘political beat’ covering formal political stories, the TOI journalists increasingly saw stories related to ‘infrastructure’ as ‘hard stories’, which were more ‘prestigious’ compared to other beats such as ‘education’ and ‘health’. A senior member of the editorial team at the TOI drew the contrast between his paper and Kannada papers tellingly: Infrastructure is not local for them [Kannada papers] … Local means local culture [he stresses this phrase to imply that this is something awfully negative], rural farmer, tr…a…di…tion [expands the word to emphasize]. For them that is the local … ‘We are like this only’ [they say] … so people should read like that. We broke those shackles and we said, ‘go beyond’. If this meant westernized, never mind, but think global … We make even local news global news. When we say that we have to have good roads, we compare it with bigger cities like New York … in New York, we have roads like this … in London, the traffic is diverted like this … The regional press deliberately kept that [global world] aside. They said that influence will spoil us … It is a deliberate attempt to say that any change is bad for us. [For us] all changes are good for the city, good for the people, good for you.

In the ongoing struggle for market gains as well as cultural distinction, the TOI marked the global-local by defining itself as the true voice of ‘empowering global modernity’ and relegated the Kannada papers and older English-language newspapers to the position of an outdated and obstinate traditionalist. Thus, it was both the appropriation of the discourse of ‘emancipated global-local’ by the TOI as a sense-making device for delineating the ‘new’ audiences as well as a strategic move to dominate other players within the field of news production that co-created and reinforced the allure of ‘cosmo-Bangaloreans’ and ‘local paradise’. Several reports in the city pages regularly proclaimed, ‘Living in Bangalore is all about living in style’,29 which spurred festive moods as strategies of symbolic control over the city. These discourses drew on the colonial and postcolonial imaginations of Bangalore as a ‘Garden City’, which reflected urban elites’ desire for social control of urban space and the more recent efforts in various Indian cities to encourage the new middle class to display a ‘cosmopolitan lifestyle environment’ through social spatialization, spatial enclavization and architectural aesthetics.30 Predictably, the discourse of global-local was peddled with a cautious acknowledgment of ‘regional culture’ to avoid possible confrontation with dissident groups, as well as to incorporate regional cultural domains into the narrative of a global-modern city. The production of ‘the performance of worldliness’, as Achille Mbembe describes in the case of Johannesburg,31 was then deeply linked to the changes within the media industry.

Real estate



45

Real estate: materiality of ideal-local

The narrative of an ideal local and aspirational imaginaries of global city ‘did not float in some sort of symbolic ether’,32 but had a definite materiality in terms of a surge in news articles on real estate, sparking desires to acquire plush residential and office properties. The TOI framed and fueled the real estate desire as both economically wise and socially expected, even as industry sources estimated a housing shortage of about 20 million units in urban India at the beginning of the millennium.33 Enhanced focus on private residential properties and designer office spaces in the TOI not only coincided with, but co-constituted, the real estate boom in the city. The demand for plush and conveniently procurable properties offered by private developers first arose in the early 1980s. However, the influx of new ‘high-tech’ migrants as well as the growing investment interests of non-resident Indians and opportunistic maneuvers by local businessmen/politicians led to a real estate boom at the turn of the millennium, marked by very high levels of speculation and reports of underworld connections. Private real estate developers became some of the largest contributors to the electoral funds of political parties in the region.34 Urban land emerged as a lucrative investment proposition not only for private business, but for the state itself.35 This was in conjunction with the policy to promote the new economy sectors. The Millennium Information Technology policy drawn up by the regional government in 2000 committed subsidized land and infrastructure with little or no legal hurdles, aside from financial assistance in the form of equity, seed capital and reduced interest rates for the IT sector. Land acquisition norms were promoted as ‘industry-friendly’, promising several incentives in the form of exemption from registration charges and stamp duty. Invoking the specific provisions of the existing laws,36 regional governments regularly acquired land at prices lower than the market rates to build industrial towns and allocate them to private industries in and around Bangalore. Many politicians mediated murky land deals as well as newly legitimized forms of land acquisitions, cornering in the process large tracts of land for speculation and future liquidation. On the other hand, owning residential plots became even more difficult for the lower-middle-class and middle-class sections of the city, because of elaborate and complicated legal procedures and the local state agency’s diminishing role in the provision of subsidized residential land.37 Simultaneously, a new group of informal land dealers and brokers exploded in the city, enticing middle-class land buyers with affordable land deals and ‘clean’ titles, and a large cluster of builders who transformed agricultural land into residential layouts of varying legal status. Michael Goldman points out in

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his detailed study on the politics of land use in urban India that the urban development agenda underpinning the world-city dream hinges on converting ‘rural economies into urban real estate’ by temporarily suspending civil and human rights through new forms of ‘speculative government’.38 In the context of these wider shifts, as well as its growing dependence on advertisements offered by private builders,39 the TOI gave vast coverage for the real estate sector and got actively involved in promoting the plush residential properties by private developers by organizing ‘property shows’ at prime locations within the city. At these shows, real estate developers installed makeshift stalls to entice the visitors with the luxuries and benefits of their various housing projects in the city, often replicating similar advertisement models in other Asian cities such as Shanghai or Delhi, which combined, as Christiane Brosius has shown, striking visual images of world history, heritage, national pride and ‘cosmopolitanism’ and developed a distinct rhetoric of ‘urban aestheticization’ where cultural knowledge of lifestyles in different parts of the world and its ‘glocal’ forms of mimesis in real estate projects became a mark of distinction.40 The redefined revenue model of the TOI further complemented such consumer shows since the paper not only earned advertisement revenue from the various exhibitors but also made direct profits by hosting and selling the stall space in these retail fairs. The advertising department was under pressure to find new revenue sources and propose strategies to optimize their profits via innovative marketing practices such as property shows and education fairs, alongside other newly created marketing ‘innovations’ such as Medianet and private treaties. Medianet was an in-house advertising agency, which placed ‘advertorials’ – paid news articles and features – as well as direct advertisements in various editions of the paper. Advertorials typically included paid articles on fashion, entertainment, modeling, lifestyle, business start-ups and consumer product launches. A senior TOI executive explained to me that Medianet was an attempt to plow in additional income by removing the role of external public relations agencies that would otherwise broker spaces for promotional content for a range of clients. Private treaties, on the other hand, were a new revenue scheme introduced by the company that was akin to the older model of bartering. In this scheme, the Times group published advertisements in its various titles in return for a share in equity in the companies doing the advertising. The group would benefit from liquidating the equity for a profit, while reducing tax obligations since long-term capital gains for such transactions remained free of tax. The advertising executives had to manage many of these new revenue innovations of the company, which deeply impacted day-to-day operations, including their

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approach to the city’s real estate. Fixing interview appointments with the advertising executives of the TOI was indeed most challenging for me. Most of them politely turned down the request and looked tensed whenever I met them on the office floors, even in the late evenings when members of other departments were ending their day. In one of the interviews, a senior management executive revealed: ‘they [advertising department] have to generate money. Even when they organize events like Property Show, they have to get the money in terms of ads, and plow back part of the money to set up stalls. Then again, make money.’ Many executives of the response and circulation team, active in organizing property shows, defined Bangalore as an ‘ad market’ dominated by the IT industry and the real estate sector riding on it. Property builders targeted high-income groups of the technology sector, offering enclaves of private luxury with amenities such as swimming pools, gymnasiums, squash courts and party halls, together with easy consumption of public services including water and power. As Janaki Nair argues, the real estate boom indicated the market’s efforts to infuse ‘planning’ with exchange value ‘so that it is the planning itself, rather than housing, that is offered for sale in the real estate market’.41 At the same time, ‘security’ was transformed into a marketable good with promises of private security and sophisticated surveillance used as a key selling point for several gated multistoried apartment complexes across the city. The new landscape of secure complexes paralleled global trends, as Mike Davis strikingly states:  ‘This obsession with physical security systems, and collaterally, with the architectural policing of social boundaries, has become a zeitgeist of urban restructuring, a master narrative in the emerging built environment of the 1990’s.’42 Such was the rapid growth of the real estate sector in the city that the TOI started a separate weekly supplement to sell editorial and advertisement space to private property builders and developers, with several sponsored articles appearing as news features. The tagline describing the supplement as a property promotional feature appeared at the top in a small font, and was easy to miss if the reader did not pay close attention. The supplement Times Property carried articles providing detailed guidelines to prospective property buyers about bank loans and legal procedures, as well as announcements of new infrastructure projects in the city highlighted in a positive, celebratory tone. Some stories bordered on overt speculation as they published thinly disguised speculative columns on a possible real estate boom in and around specific infrastructure projects across the city. Journalists and advertising executives often defined the relationship between the TOI and the real estate sector as symbiotic. With 90 percent

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of the revenue coming from advertisements alone, the TOI focused its efforts on keeping the ‘property bubble’ alive.The management instructed the business correspondents to refrain from writing any negative stories about the property builders who were also private treaty partners for the paper. The journalists were actively discouraged from offering negative assessments of the real estate market in the city. A senior editorial member candidly stated: In general, we are quite careful writing about builders. When there was a building collapse on the Infosys campus [a major software outsourcing company], we did not take the name of the builder … We are generally careful about taking the names of corporate builders as there is a lot of brand equity involved. We don’t publish stories without carrying their version of the story.

For sure, the journalists did not always obey these rules, and pushed stories that were at least indicative of the downward spiral of real estate and other problems associated with the sector. Despite these occasional divergences, the implicit editorial guidelines and explicit promotion of the sector through events and sponsored stories created a discourse where secure and plush private residential properties became central symbols for the growing and ‘successful global city’ of Bangalore. They were also aware that the high-tech migrants to Bangalore were wary of land brokers and the labyrinthine processes of land buying, and instead relied on the ‘efficiency’ of big builders to deliver clean titles and easy acquisition. When the real estate sector collapsed temporarily in 2008 and 2009, property builders had only the TOI to blame for all the hype it had created around property values. The executives were excited, in an ironic moment of vindication, that the rise and fall of a sector depended so heavily on its publicity machinery. A  senior executive’s self-congratulatory remarks were revealing: We are very proud to say that Times Property was very, very instrumental in propelling the property market to dizzying heights, so much so that builders have now started accusing us that ‘you were the ones who forced us to increase the price so high and now we are sitting on a tiger, we are neither able to leap down nor are there any business transactions happening’.

Even though a downturn in the real estate market resulted in declining advertisement revenue for the paper for some months, the management was excited with its overall success in spurring and benefiting from profits in the property business. The celebration of stylish residential and office spaces was partly reflected in the design and decor of the TOI office, which was located on the symbolically significant M.G. Road, well known as the key artery of ‘cosmopolitan’ Bangalore. In striking contrast to the older English and Kannada newsrooms with cluttered desks, dull

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computer monitors and heaps of newspaper copies piled on the corners, the TOI office had shining glass to separate the offices, designer sculptures to decorate the angles, colorful murals to enrich the walls and rich carpets to hide the floor. Not surprisingly, the advertisement department, as a client-facing unit of the office, enjoyed the greatest attention in terms of design and decor, while, curiously, the Page 3 supplement of the paper came a close second. Bangalore Times, the six-page daily lifestyle supplement, had its office at one end of the large newsroom, with a young brigade of stylishly dressed female reporters occupying wider workstations than their peers on the ‘main’ editorial desk – symbolically indicating the supplement’s importance for the re-launched TOI.

Page 3: ‘Face as fortune and body as wealth’

India-with-a-designer-label has opened up undreamt-of opportunities for every young girl to turn her face into her fortune, and her body into her wealth manager. Karkaria et al. (2010)

In the Bangalore Times section, about a dozen women in their early twenties talk on the phone at a fever pitch, type on the black keyboards with flying speed and eagerly shout for help and information from their colleagues, together preparing a heady concoction of gossip, ‘newsy’ tidbits and glitzy images of models and movie actors, for the day’s six-page edition of the supplement. Clad in tight jeans, sweatshirts or low-cut blouses, and flaunting their high-heeled shoes, polished nails and fashion necklaces, the Bangalore Times’ ‘feminized’ brigade of reporters at the very first glance appear distinct from their peers at the editorial desk of the main sheet, as they struggle to negotiate their position as less-than-serious journalists. Contrary to the perceptions of other editorial members, Page  3 reporters pursue their stories on celebrity gossip and fashion news with all seriousness, and worry about the missed quotes, lost appointments or messed up copy as any ‘regular’ reporter would. In a room filled with manufactured ebullience, the chief editor of the supplement occupies a desk at the center, and the team surrounds her in the linear desks spread out on all sides. For the stylishly dressed editor, now in her mid-forties and the oldest in the team, it is a routine task of filling up appropriate content for a template already decided by the higher management in Delhi and Bombay. ‘There is a set formula’, she says almost indifferently, flipping the page layouts handed to her by a junior colleague for approval. Bangalore Times is a sort of misnomer, she explains, ‘It is not a paper about Bangalore but for a Bangalorean who is young, hip, evolved and wants to know about the globe.’ A common

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set of themes and issues appear in all metro editions of the paper across the country, revealing the management’s assumption that the core ‘hip’ urban audience exists in all the cities with similar reading habits and expectations. ‘Star spats may not be hard news. But the young readers are interested in it, or at least, that is what we presume,’ she says, emphasizing the last word. In the TOI newsroom, and more generally, Page 3 connotes a combination of celebrity journalism and entertainment, aimed at generating a ‘positive feel’ among the readers by celebrating personal wealth, bodily decor and consumption, and recasting these as legitimate popular aspirations. The supplement is metropolitan in tone, feel and location, and packaged as part of the larger drive to capture the urban youth market. Examining the rise of Page 3 journalism, Radhika Parameswaran argues that the expansion of the soft news genre should be understood within the larger context of India’s embrace of consumer modernity, the spread of multiplex culture and a similar visual culture in popular cinema constituting the ‘visual modernity’ of post-liberalization India.43 With its content and chromatic appeal, Page 3 offers the ‘feel good factor’, lauded by the Times management as a unique attribute of the newly devised news formula. A TOI reporter spelt out the rationale with colorful metaphors: Our readers are basically aspirational. So we don’t hesitate to write about luxury because they should think about these as achievable and aspire for them. So, we write about fine dining. We write about affordable housing. We also write about Vijay Mallya [business tycoon] buying an island. When you are talking about it, you are saying the middle rung – see people are doing it! Readers feel that if Times of India says it is happening, it is possible for him also!44

The image of an aspiring consumer-subject rightfully chasing her/his dreams of privately owning and consuming luxuries not only followed the neoliberal thrust on market-led private consumption, but also signaled the rise of a new class of people laying claim to the benefits of liberalization through the performative display of wealth and lifestyle, when the ‘production of celebration’ unfolded across spaces as varied as religious-spiritual leisure complexes, the wellness and beauty industry and real estate.45 Following the guidelines on legitimate aspiration and entertainment spelled out by the management in such a milieu, reporters at the Bangalore Times-prepared news features on Hollywood, Bollywood, South Indian cinema, fashion, lifestyle (food, clothing and fitness), sex and sports, with a clear instruction to avoid encroaching upon the main editorial turf and instead look for ‘newsy’ articles that combine gossip and verifiable facts in entertaining ways. Page 3 journalism not only tried to normalize and celebrate the consumer-subject through this top-down template, but also

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offered it in a deeply gendered ‘pro-capitalist femininity-focused repertoire’,46 focusing on make-up, fashion and enticing bodies – all symbols of conventional femininity but now ‘with a ramped up price tag’.47 These symbols accompanied colorful reports on nightlife and parties, simultaneously mystifying and normalizing new modes of socializing for the urban youth. The supplement celebrated Bangalore’s status as a ‘pub city’ and launched severe criticism whenever the police placed restrictions on night life by regulating the closing hours of pubs and bars. Senior editorial members often interpreted the vibrant night life and youth parties as reflecting liberal social values inspired by the market, and drew on their own observations of stylishly dressed city youth to justify the coverage. In one of the conversations, a senior editorial member at BM recounted his encounter with a fashionably dressed teenage Muslim girl enjoying a cozy conversation on her bike with a young man across the street: ‘even conservative religious communities cannot escape the pressure of capitalism. Everybody wants to be modern these days. There is anxiety about being left behind.’ The presumed anxiety to be modern constituted the rationale for much of the ‘feel good’ narratives on luxury. At the same time, reports on parties and models were often paid for by the protagonists themselves, through the TOI’s in-house public relations agency, Medianet. Reporters at Bangalore Times revealed that Medianet stories could consume up to 90 percent of the editorial space in some editions, further blurring the boundaries between paid and unpaid content, between entertainment and news. As a result of these marketing techniques, the Bangalore Times brand was estimated to be worth 600 to 700 million rupees (60 to 70 crore rupees or 10 million USD) in 2008. Management executives at the TOI proudly claimed that aspiring models, actors and fashion experts could advance their careers only with sufficient exposure on their Page 3, which had also spun off circuits of bribery and other enticements to conniving photographers from the paper. Although recent studies question the distinction between news and entertainment, considering this as a historically specific construction that emerged in the 1920s in the United States,48 the particular mode of the formulaic Page 3, installed in all the metropolitan bureaus of the TOI, suggested a paradigm shift in what came to be considered as salient objects of news and who came to be recognized as worthy of media attention in India. Criticisms of the market-driven model of journalism driven by the TOI consider the Page  3 phenomenon as a key sign of declining journalistic standards and evidence of the news media’s public embrace of consumer modernity,49 following similar objections and arguments advanced by scholars on news media in the West.50 In

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postcolonial contexts, these changes take a distinct trajectory as Lila Abu-Lughod brilliantly demonstrates in the case of Egyptian teledrama. In these contexts, the developmentalist aesthetic of an earlier socialist era makes way for the capitalist aesthetic of a new generation of media producers who do not hesitate ‘to flirt with the amorality of a glitzy world’ in which lifestyles of conspicuous consumption go unpunished and even celebrated as legitimate acts of citizenship.51 Equally, it represented a historical moment when cities were redrawn through the aesthetics of consumption and the ‘regime of the visual’ as the vehicle of global consumer modernity. It was not surprising then that the TOI imagined the urban-local as homogeneous and culturally predictable, available for replicating uniformly across all the metro centers of the paper. Indeed, there was much more than mere imagining at work here; it included an implicit pedagogy about the right way to live and desire. Corporate celebrities emerged as the new visible face of this pedagogy.

Corporate stars and political goons

One of the new heroes of India is the corporate guy. A senior business correspondent at TOI

At a modest conference room on the TOI news floor, the morning editorial meeting is swept up in the festive mood of Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration in the United States. This is 2009, the year marking the beginning of a new era in America’s political history. As is the norm, the editor takes the lead and elaborately plans the coverage of the event for the next day’s edition, allotting no fewer than four full pages for ‘Obama stories’. Aside from news reports on the event, long features on the personal life and political career of Obama are included in the list of prospective stories. Even this list appears incomplete to the editor. He asks the chief reporter to send her team members around the city, especially to neighborhoods with students from Kenya, to ask them how they feel about Obama’s rise and gather colorful pictures to accompany the quotations. Taking down the instructions carefully, the chief reporter assures him that the city reporters are already in the field to get these stories and ‘reactions’ from young students in the city on how they wish to emulate Obama. Looking satisfied, the editor is winding up the long discussion on Obama, but suddenly remembers something that seems very important. It is an event organized by the circulation department. With a sense of sudden urgency, the editor urges his team to find a suitable couple for the finale of the ‘Mrs and Mr Bangalore Times’ contest, a city-wide contest organized by the

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circulation department. A celebrity couple should now crown the winning ‘ideal couple’ from the city. Before the team come up with their choices, he swiftly turns toward them, overwhelmed by anxiety, and asks if they have already approached a prominent IT industrialist and his wife. ‘They would be the most suitable couple to award the winners’, he says. A  senior business correspondent draws his lips down and says the IT ‘leader’ might not agree. ‘Why not?’ protests the editor, ‘we have given his book a wide coverage!’ ‘No, he would not agree’, maintains the business reporter. The editor is forced to think of other options. ‘We have a fashion guru willing to be the guest, but the circulation department needs people from the serious industry. The IT captain would be the best’, he contemplates, still weighing the options. More names from the IT and biotechnology sectors are rolled out, but the editor is still unsure. The hunt continues, since no name as yet looks appropriate and feasible at the same time. This editorial meeting, like many others, revealed to me the growing importance of corporate leaders, especially of the symbolically dominant IT industry in Bangalore, on a par with global leaders like Barack Obama, for the re-launched edition of the TOI. Corporate leaders were at once the icons of the ‘resurgent new India’ and emblems of successful leadership, to be emulated by the youth and showcased to the world as success stories of ‘New India’. Top executives from home-grown multinational IT companies were cited regularly in the newspaper, and invited as guests to the many public events the paper organized. Reporters told me that IT stars were the only ‘national personalities’ they could cite from Bangalore, since the city was known neither for its economic prowess nor for its political influence nationally but had only IT to offer as a topic of national significance for media coverage. However, the reporters soon added that the emphasis on corporate stars was linked to a deeper thematic and ideological shift within the paper. These shifts were deliberate, in that they emerged from the TOI’s efforts to present a new style of journalism by targeting, first and foremost, the historical emphasis on ‘political news’ gathered from formal political and governmental sources. The star status accorded to the corporate class thus stemmed from the paper’s radically altered approach to ‘political news’ and the political class.

Reframed political news

Until the TOI revamped its news policy in the late 1980s and early 1990s, stories covered under the ‘political beat’ across major newspapers were drawn from the domain of formal politics, reflecting the history of Indian print media’s active participation in the liberation

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struggles and the subsequent influence of the developmentalist regime that placed the postcolonial Indian state as the foremost agent to ‘deliver’ national service. The majority of these stories reported public statements issued by politicians, political gossip, internal party politics and public performances of the political class, captured in what journalists derisively called ‘statement journalism’. Within the re-launched TOI, the standard format of ‘statement journalism’ was more formally replaced by an intense skepticism toward the political class and the Indian state in general. Despite the specific nature of this transition in India, anti-political-class rhetoric echoed the trend in Western democracies, where media coverage of politicians had become increasingly ‘negative’ in recent decades.52 At the TOI Bangalore, it became common sense for the journalists to associate politicians with the corruption endemic in electoral politics as well as the state bureaucracy. Politicians were suspect, and were characterized as cunning, corrupt and even environmentally damaging through their extravagant use of garlands and other performative paraphernalia. In one of the editorial meetings, I noticed a senior editorial member admiring the Chief Minister’s decision to avoid garlands and other public tokens of respect. This sparked a discussion on garlands – how much they cost, how they pollute public spaces and how the political class should be blamed for this extravaganza. The contempt and skepticism about the political class was compounded by the growing pressure felt by the print journalists to provide an analytical angle to news stories as a mark of distinction vis-à-vis television. The pressure to explore analytical stories, as opposed to straightforward ‘statement journalism’, had opened up the space, both in terms of column inches and tonality, to frame the political class in rhetorical-negative terms and consider them as obstacles to the country’s rightful pursuit of growth and excellence. A notion of objectivity, understood mostly as a priori distrust of state actors, guided the reporters in their search for political stories. Senior editorial staff members, as representatives of the management, clearly instructed the reporters not to take the statements issued by politicians at face value and instead verify their statements with multiple sources. A senior member of the editorial team revealed: ‘We wanted the political reports to be far more skeptical and not merely handouts issued by politicians. We asked the reporters to challenge them and engage with them far more critically.’ While this may seem quite natural for any ‘objective’ news story, the TOI editorial team insisted that political stories should be suspected first and foremost. This was partly a backlash against the heavy reliance on political handouts and press conference statements issued by politicians within older English- and regional-language dailies. The cultivated distrust of the political class resulted from the TOI’s attempt to

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distinguish itself from these rival papers in an effort to appeal to the middle class that was believed to be disenchanted with, and less dependent on, the political class and state actors.53 By the turn of the millennium, the mediated discontent with the political class had become consolidated as civic common sense across the nation, sparking widespread protests against corruption scandals, the rise of the India Against Corruption movement led by Arvind Kejriwal and Anna Hazare, and angst against the perceived apathy and greed of politicians across political party divisions and ideological differences. The changes in the news frames of the TOI indicate that well before such national media events of popular protests erupted, TOI had cemented civic anger against the political class in cities like Bangalore – a point I will revisit in the next chapter. The ‘new readers’, in TOI’s interpretation, were not only disillusioned with the political class, but had developed a new taste – for news related to health, education, lifestyle, fitness, fashion and sports, and they looked for ‘new heroes’. The TOI reversed the mainstream–periphery ratio within newspapers and subordinated ‘mainstream’ news on politics, economics and development to all other interests attributed to the new reader, which had remained peripheral in the earlier years.54 The national strategy of the paper was especially striking in Bangalore because the editorial team was confident that the new middle class of the high-tech city was the least interested in political stories and even held contempt for the ‘corrupt political class’. The readers in Bangalore were assumed to be ‘free from ideological concerns’, neither belonging to the ideological camps of the right or the left, nor holding strong opinions on issues like religion or nation. This view of the new readers as entrepreneurial subjects of a liberalized economy, as opposed to political subjects of the Nehruvian era, was shared among top editorial staff and the management alike. Jayanth Kodkani described the new reader with vivid metaphors: Probably it is the death of ideology. Before [the] 1980s one belonged to so many things, one was a socialist, one was a patriot, one had strong views about religion. Now there are no Amartya Sens. He [the new reader] belongs to the Rotary Club, Morning Joggers Club … there are various groups that he belongs to. In the morning he may be jogging with a salesman, at the Jaycees function he may be with a manager. If you look at the youngsters, the generation of [the] 1990s, generation of the new millennium, they are not patriotic in the sense that people were in the 1960s who were fresh with the Nehruvian dreams. It does not mean much to them [today’s generation]. In fact the Nehruvian dream does not mean anything to them. He wants to focus on the university in the US. He has his own world, aspirations and role models.

The role models in question were the globally visible corporate leaders from the high-tech sector who were hailed as the new champions of liberalized India, in striking contrast to the ‘decadent political class’.

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Ironically, this discursive shift inside the TOI was initiated as early as 1991, well before the private high-tech enterprise had demonstrated its ‘success’. It coincided with a generational shift in the ownership of the paper and close supervision by the Samir Jain-led management team, just after Rajeev Gandhi’s tech-populist measures invited technology specialists like Sam Pitroda to lead the reforms in the telecom sector in the late 1980s.55 Within the TOI, the management-monitored discourse of ‘corporate heroes’ was so well established that a decade after introducing the new editorial policy, senior business correspondents could only vaguely recollect that the news priorities changed because ‘Samir Jain might have spotted a trend, an opportunity’. As we saw earlier, the paper invited corporate leaders for the public events it organized and regularly cited them in city stories. The celebration of corporate success also influenced the business section of the paper. Following the global trends of a surge in niche economic news with closer ties with the economic elite,56 the business section of the paper was asked to stop reporting only on macro-economic issues and instead focus also on issues that were seen as relevant for the business needs of the corporate sector, personal lifestyles of the corporate class and the urban middle class. The ‘usability’ of the news stories for the desired readership became a guiding tenet, as a senior business correspondent noted: ‘At some level, they started saying it should be a paper that a businessman should figure what is in it for him, something that helps and guides him … we should be a businessman’s paper.’ Positive publicity given to the corporate sector became effective also because of the proactive and innovative public relations efforts of the corporations through new PR agencies, which, as the editor of Kannada daily Udayavani cynically described, ‘constantly blow the trumpet pipe for their clients’ (tuttur i uduttare). Reporters in the English-language dailies admitted that it was very hard to gather negative stories on the private sector, especially the high-tech industry, because of its strategic media management practices and enticements of gifts ranging from small consumer goods to expensive holidays.57 Public relations efforts by the corporate sector helped to extend the journalists’ trust in the leadership of the corporate class beyond its conventional business domains into areas of city governance as well as formal politics. Together with the historical experience of the flaws of the ‘rentier’ postcolonial state led by the corrupt political class,58 an enhanced trust in the efficiency of the corporate sector translated into city stories and editorials strongly advocating the need for private-sector participation in policy-making and development activities. According to many top-ranking TOI journalists, this was especially needed because of the

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(perceived) lack of technical expertise among state actors to manage the complexity of the exploding city. In Bangalore, the TOI not only reported extensively and favorably on the private–public partnership model for city development, as in the pivotal case of the Bangalore Agenda Task Force,59 it also became an active player in city politics. Although many of these campaigns, which I describe in detail in the next chapter, were designed to enhance the brand value of the paper, the political effects exceeded the original marketing intentions. For example, through its nationwide campaign named Lead India, the paper appealed to its middle-class constituency to transform the ‘dirty world of politics’ and replace it with new political leadership. It organized a widely advertised multimedia contest to find efficient and inspiring political leaders for a ‘New India’ and crowned Bangalore-based businessman and philanthropist R.K. Misra as the winner of the first nationwide contest. One of the three senior editorial members who formed an internal team to shortlist the Lead India candidates from Bangalore told me that they developed a ‘scoring system’ for corporate leaders involved in social service and community activities, before nominating them for an open contest. ‘We were essentially looking for people who could do things,’ he emphasized. ‘We looked for socially relevant projects. We had found out that R.K. Mishra’s NGO had built an eight-kilometer road. You cannot get more concrete than that! Basic objective was to identify such leaders.’ Senior management executives at the TOI believed that Misra and other Lead India winners had themselves become ‘feared brands’ in India. In promoting the Lead India campaign, the TOI management was explicit about its political agenda: We believe that the leaders in the country and people in politics have not given exactly the right kind of leadership. We need to bring in quality in the leadership also, whether it is at the national basis or something to do with local issues, say the kind of woes that people have at the new airport, or the infrastructure problems in the city.

Journalists at the TOI shared the belief that the leaders of the new economy were especially suited for public positions as they ‘had made enough money in their businesses and hence would not fall into the temptation of getting corrupt’. Corporate leaders thus served not only as role models for the personal growth of TOI’s aspirational new readers, but they also promised the right kind of political leadership needed for a growing country like India, reflecting the underlying normative assumptions about corrupt politicians and successful corporate leaders as metonyms of the failed state versus the enabling market. This perception was normalized in the newsrooms through extensive organizational

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pedagogy, involving subtle as well as explicit means of grooming the editorial staff.

Organizational pedagogy and journalists as victims of the state

At the TOI newsroom, editorial members often contrasted the current approach of their newspaper with earlier approaches, by pointing out that the editors of the previous generation had an air of self-importance because they held the belief that the role of newspapers was to teach the readers what they should do and think. According to many TOI journalists, today’s newspapers have consciously abandoned the high pedestal of pontification, and the ‘preachy thing’ had turned into a more down-toearth, reader-sensitive vehicle for ‘useful’ communication. However, in hastily denying the ‘preachiness’ of their paper, the journalists overlooked the extensive pedagogical processes to which they themselves were subjected. The revised news agenda and editorial policies of the paper were executed largely by the editorial and circulation personnel of the TOI, and later the branding team, who were groomed to implement, if not wholeheartedly embrace, the management’s new vision of news and readers. Organizational pedagogy extended to various rungs of the editorial hierarchy, but focused strongly on the senior members of the editorial team who would later dictate the terms for daily news coverage. Many senior executives recalled how Samir Jain would closely dictate the terms at the highest levels of management meetings, where no one forgot to carry a ‘notepad’, since Jain would object to anyone walking in with no notepad and willingness to take personal notes of the guidelines as a sign of obedience and diligence. A  senior management executive strikingly described that the task before him was to ‘Bennetize the editors who should later Bennetize the staff below’ – alluding to Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited, which owned the paper. The often direct, as well as indirect, means of organizational pedagogy involved informally preparing the journalists at management and editorial meetings to recognize the emergence of new India and a new class of readers, and the widespread disenchantment with the political class among the new middle class. A senior journalist said that they instructed their junior colleagues to ‘make the youth actualize the experiences of new India symbolized by shopping malls and glitzy film premiers’. For many senior editorial members who had earlier worked in the newspapers focusing largely on formal politics and the activities of the state machinery, this involved a complete cycle of unlearning and relearning. A senior editorial member of the TOI reflectively remarked:

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Now we are in a different world; we have to change. I have changed myself! I have changed according to the changes in society. I  went with the wind. As I  said, at one time, when the President spoke, I  used to be overawed. Now I  am not overwhelmed at all! People are more interested in jobs, changing their lifestyle, I enjoy that!

Journalists, like this senior editor, were the first to feel the impact of the transformed news agenda. A large majority of journalists during the interviews repeated, and at times blithely recited, the management definition of the TOI readers as upwardly mobile middle-class groups and the ‘huge expat population’ of the city. I was struck by the uniformity of metaphors and the rhetoric of global city in the narratives of many TOI journalists – evident in many of the descriptions sketched throughout this ­chapter – and their felt need to repeat the management line of thinking on new readers as accurately as they could before a probing researcher like me. Although divergences emerged among a section of TOI journalists, as we will see in Chapter  5, a large number of them repeated, if often cynically, the ‘toothpaste’ metaphor of the newspaper. In contrast to many of its competitors, the re-launched TOI had a clearly spelt-out editorial policy formulated at the highest levels of management hierarchy, efficiently rolled down to the lower rungs. Editorial members in the Times group believed that this centralized policy had made their work significantly more efficient as they could focus on specific news themes and presentation techniques to conform to the Times vision without any ‘confusion in the newsroom’. Ideological clarity for the TOI was then also a form of organizational efficiency. Many young journalists who joined the paper were quick to realize that they too had to change their attitudes and conform to the new values if they were to survive and succeed in the industry. Azmath, an articulate journalist of BM, summarized: ‘If you have [any] “ism”, you are a burden to your paper, you are not productive. If you have the reader in mind, you should sometimes be left, sometimes be right, off the right, off the left, center, everywhere. So it is like a pendulum.’ This explicitly ‘apolitical position’ – a promiscuous pendulum – and the discourse of the inefficient Indian state became even more effective within the TOI newsroom since they were reinforced by the personal experiences of several journalists who felt they were personally wronged by the intrusive Indian state of the pre-liberalization era. The narrow caste and class background of English-language journalists60 partly explained their personal endorsement of the management’s policy, because they strongly shared the belief that their own upward mobility had been curtailed by the Indian government’s renewed emphasis on quotas for backward castes in higher education, government employment and political offices, and also by the ‘corrupt license

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Raj’ of the Nehruvian state. Of the 42 journalists I  interviewed inside the TOI and BM, 16 were in middle and senior editorial positions. Of them, 13 belonged to the upper castes and intermediary dominant castes (Brahmins, Rajputs and warrior castes such as Coorgis and Bunts), two were Muslims and one was Christian. Many journalists were candid in admitting that journalism was not their first choice of career, but they had somehow drifted into the profession after having failed to join the coveted Indian Administrative Services or secure an engineering/medical seat for higher education. More often than not, the journalists blamed the reservation policies of the Indian state for their thwarted aspirations. This sense of dejection and aggrieved subjectivity was especially pronounced among middle-aged, upper-caste English- language journalists who credited the deregulated economy for creating job opportunities and promises of high career for their children. Many journalists took pride in their children’s rapid rise in multinational companies with incomes and lifestyles far surpassing their own,61 in stark contrast to their experiences in the earlier era when they faced difficulties in procuring services as basic as cooking gas and a telephone line. At the same time, electoral fraud, huge corruption scandals and land scams in the city involving politicians prompted many journalists to develop a deep sense of revulsion for the political class. A seasoned business correspondent, Sujit John, articulated his angst in one of our meetings on the Times floor, when he patiently answered a string of questions I had forced rather too aggressively into his busy schedule. In his early forties, Sujit was an encouraging colleague to his team of business correspondents, and a postgraduate in economics who had migrated to Bangalore from his hometown in the neighboring state of Kerala: I don’t believe that the entire community [of politicians] is corrupt or anything. But, there is a large section who may be taking money if not for personal reasons, but certainly out of electoral compulsions. Election is such an expensive battle in India that taking money is becoming very normal. I just wish that these fellows get caught sometime and serve jail. It does not mean that they don’t represent certain general interest. It gave a certain dignity to segments of people who had been oppressed for centuries. For that reason, I have a lot of sympathies for some of these causes. But … they [politicians] have obscene amount of wealth. Anything that they [politicians] are otherwise doing … bringing dignity to the poor or OBCs … does not justify this obscene kind of wealth.

Contempt for the corrupt political class ran deep in the newsrooms. At the editorial meetings, journalists meticulously pursued stories that showed politicians in a poor light, condemning their abject disregard for ‘tax payers’ money’. Often this was framed as personal injustice meted out to them as well as to their readers. Ironically, the deep-seated contempt

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for the political class did not result in any sustained investigative journalism, as the journalists themselves admitted, but resulted more often than not in detached cynicism and a less deferential relation with the political class and the state, echoing similar trends in other countries in the West and Latin America, as Silvio Waisbord and other scholars have shown.62 At the same time, the political landscape of Karnataka underwent significant shifts in the decades of liberalization, marked by the emergence of BJP as a political power and the end of the dominance of the unified Janata Parivar (Janata family) and the Indian National Congress. The political class in Karnataka experimented with opportunistic coalitions with various combinations of major political parties (Congress, Janata Dal (Secular) and BJP), leading to unstable regimes, large-scale scandals in mining, land scams and new networks of rent-seeking and corruption in the wake of the uneven effects of liberalization policies.63 Several such scams cemented the editorial framing of the political class as corrupt and inefficient. In the light of the actual and perceived failures of the Indian state, of which the journalist him/herself was the presumed victim, the new economy sectors appeared to epitomize excellence, transparency and integrity. The icons of liberalization, hailed by the Times management as corporate stars, also became ‘the cult figures for the new generation of urban journalists’, as Ranganath, the editor of Kannada Prabha, remarked, with biting sarcasm. The worsening traffic conditions in the city affecting the daily work of reporters further added to their restlessness, fueling hopes that the ‘efficient’ corporate sector and private consultants would provide the much-needed ‘solution’ for city governance and planning. It was in such an organizational milieu, laden with the frustrations of middle-class journalists, that the TOI executives planned several city campaigns in the city, extending the discourse of mediated desire beyond the printed pages, into the heat and dust of city politics. Drawing on their experiences in the city and charged with the management’s new focus on reaching out to the readers, the TOI journalists and other executives organized city-level campaigns to enlist the desired class groups in various forms of civic activism. In the next chapter, we will see how the key departments inside the TOI initiated these new forms of city-level politics by yoking together the interconnected strands of desire-as-aspiration, and recasting them as legitimate political aspirations of ‘proper citizens’. I show how, in extending the private realms of desire into public spaces of civic activism for its own branding needs, the paper co-created democratic spaces of public participation for the new migrants and middle-class groups in Bangalore, even as it simultaneously excluded other sections of the city’s growing population, especially the urban poor, from the widely publicized Times city campaigns.

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Democracy by default

Brand executive is the coach of the team; I am the captain. Editor of Bangalore Mirror

It is an uneventful evening inside the Bangalore Mirror (BM), a day with no breaking news or exclusive stories. For the most part, the day is filled with the routine banalities of the news floor. The lull is disrupted when Pankaj Advani, the world billiards champion, walks into the paper’s main office in an old commercial neighborhood of Bangalore, upon the editor’s formal invitation to preside as the day’s ceremonial chief guest on the news floor. The decorum requires the suave teenage champion to interact with the editorial members in the full glare of in-house cameras and a crew of reporters, who for their part would record his words and gestures to compose news articles of varying length for the next day’s edition. Two young sports correspondents greet Pankaj at the entrance of the news office and escort him to the editor’s chamber, as the young champion walks past rows of undivided workstations in a large, open-plan newsroom, softly greeting the news crew with a smile. The editor summons his team members, mostly section heads and senior colleagues, to have close interaction with the guest inside his office. ‘We are trying to promote young entrepreneurs and achievers. We want to highlight the unsung heroes of Bangalore. We invite them as guests to our office and give wide coverage to these visits in our editions’, the editor had explained to me the previous day, ensuring that my long periods of research on the newsroom were dotted with useful nuggets of information and ‘insider’ insights into the organizational practices of the city tabloid. To call BM a tabloid might be misleading. Smaller in size than a broadsheet, the paper is known for ‘sensational stories’ of city crime, sex scandals and corruption in local government departments, packaged with screaming headlines and racy prose, often angling into personal lives of key public figures and movie celebrities. However, it differs from what is often called by the same name in Britain, where semi-nude female pictures and risqué revelations are a common feature. Pankaj appears to be aware 62

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of the difference, as well as the unique appeal of the paper among the city youth. Inside the editor’s spacious room, Pankaj occupies the chair opposite the editor, flanked by the heads of the crime and city bureaus on either side. For about an hour, questions flow from all directions – sports correspondents pose questions on his game, city reporters try their luck with grueling queries on sports politics, entertainment bureau reporters angle for captivating tidbits on his personal habits, even as sports reporters take their cue and jump in to ask how he chills out, is he a major party-goer? If not billiards, which other career would he have chosen? When Pankaj remarks he is fond of cinema and would not mind acting in films, the group chuckles with amusement. ‘This is a revelation’, exclaims a senior city correspondent. Other team members brim with the excitement of churning out ‘an exclusive’ story that other newspapers have thus far failed to procure. Keeping the prototypical young reader in mind, the editor addresses the champion directly, looking straight into his eyes. ‘You are a youngster. Worldwide, reading habits are declining especially among the youth. What about you?’ the editor asks. ‘Include me in the category!’ quips the young champion, prompting a senior reporter to ask, in alarm, if Pankaj read BM at all. ‘Yes, yes’, Pankaj reassures quickly, ‘but I start from the last page’, he adds smilingly, alluding to the pictures of cinema stars and entertainment gossip printed on these pages. The entire group bursts into laughter and almost all of them assure him that it is not a bad thing after all. ‘A bit of everything is needed [for a newspaper]. If you give only entertainment people would say it is superficial’, remarks the editor, thoughtfully. Coming to his defense, Pankaj adds, ‘A little bit of that [entertainment] works, little bit of stuff is also needed.’ With this piquant summary statement, the iconic young reader gives his valuable feedback, and the purpose of the decorative meeting, for the most part, seems to have been served. By then, the reporters have finished taking copious notes on the discussion, anxious to turn them into peppy news articles for the next day’s edition. They seem to measure different combinations of words and headlines for the articles in their minds, since there are clear instructions that the visit of the young sports star has to be first transformed into an ‘event’ and then offered as a ‘news story’, with visual and interview details running full-length pages. Amid this hushed exhaustion and anxiety, Pankaj stands up gracefully, followed by the editor, and walks slowly through the newsroom, greeting a few other young reporters before being escorted to the exit. Such visits by ‘city celebrities’ are a common practice in the Times publications. On the long list of news items slated to be published or pursued by the editorial team on its daily trail, there is, more often than

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not, a guest visit or a public event organized by the newspaper. These events span a wide spectrum, ranging from school principals’ meets to newspaper vendors’ retreats; from cooking contests for homemakers to quiz competitions for school students; from discussions among elected representatives, bureaucrats and residents in the city to nationwide contests for new political leaders. Following the implicit rules of the newsroom, the editorial team gives extensive and positive coverage to these events and visits, and actively participates in choosing and persuading the most appropriate city-based ‘celebrities’ to grace the events as guests. Securing police clearance and negotiating with bureaucrats for logistical support are additional responsibilities when large events like music concerts or job fairs are organized at public venues. Journalists double up as the public relations team for the paper, even as the branding, advertising and circulation executives work closely with the editorial team to organize a flawless event. It is then not surprising that editorial meetings often invoke the presence of non-editorial executives and discuss the wide range of management-initiated public events that should, as they would, become news for the next day’s edition. What modes of intervention do news organizations seek to activate through such public events and solicited visits and the editorial mandate to convert them into news stories in their own right? How do these organizational practices differ, if at all, from earlier forms of newsroom cultures and with what implications? When I asked my journalist friends about the Times management’s intentions behind organizing these public events and guest visits, the answers were not surprising. Predictably, the rationale proffered by the management and journalists alike was the growing competition from the interactive new media, heightened further by fast-time journalism of private broadcasting. Faced with the challenge of a crowded news market and technologically enabled efforts by other communication media to reverse the status of a monological medium, the strategy of the Times group was to push the papers beyond informational address and content provision, and present them as an active and conscientious ‘partner’ that cared for and redressed the grievances of the reader. Public events were designed to showcase the paper’s commitment to the city’s development, and the invitations to readers and celebrities were evidence of how interactive the papers indeed were. In this chapter, I offer a critical reading of these interactions, and how they affect access to news and newsrooms for diverse publics in a shifting city. Following the analysis of organizational restructuring and thematic revisions inside the TOI in the previous chapter, I show how mediated desire was propelled through new newsroom practices initiated by leading English-language newspapers to infuse interactivity into the old

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media. We will see how the TOI-led media’s world-class city discourse relied on and entailed a major transformation of newsrooms where hierarchies did not merely shift places but a new idea of newsrooms as agents of civic activism gained force, under the influence of ‘new-age management’ principles circulating across the overlapping boundaries of corporate advertising, news marketing and the high-tech outsourcing sector. These newsroom initiatives brought the abstract discourse of mediated desire to the concrete arenas of civic activism, leading a choreography of campaigns, protests and petitions. Such city-level protests organized by newspapers were in many ways prototypes for nationwide agitation against governmental corruption and apathy, which swept the media worlds across the country in the new millennium, from protests against Nirbhaya’s tragic gang rape in Delhi to Anna Hazare’s ‘India Against Corruption’ campaign.1 Without doubt, the national protests in the later years assumed a distinct anti-government tenor with a broader appeal among various class groups, and drew inspiration, at least in popular discussions, from the new-media-led protests in the Arab world. The more ‘humble’ campaigns and petitions at the city levels, on the other hand, were firmly anchored to articulating a global-modern class culture with its ideological arsenal of corporate excellence, a decadent state and an aspirational middle class. I suggest that the ‘reader-connect’ events and campaigns initiated by the TOI – not only in Bangalore but in cities like Delhi  – were modes of co-extending private desire into the public domain of city politics via the intermediary of brand logics. I make this point with a detailed discussion of a city campaign organized by the TOI. Without doubt, civic engagement by the press is hardly a novelty in liberal democracies since newspapers engage in various activities to promote community participation in local governance, voting and citizen monitoring, constituting in fact the quintessence of media’s political presence in democratic societies and the central theme of focus for much of normative press theories.2 However, what set apart the new-age newspapers of globalizing India was the newly defined role of the elite newspapers as vehicles of neoliberal urban subjectivity that embedded civic activism in the market vocabulary of efficiency and the discourse of global competitiveness through numerous newsroom innovations. What is more, these innovations relied not so much on the promise of objectivity and just-in-time information as on offering news as embodied urban subjectivity with no burden of truth claims. Journalists did not report the news but readers embodied them through various ‘reader-connect’ events and direct participation in news creation. News cultures of embodied urban subjectivity signaled the deep penetration of the logic of flexible

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News as urban subjectivity. Middle class and corporate class city. Newsroom structure: * Branding * Flexible newsrooms * Decentered news

Global informational capitalism: Interactivity and flexible production

Figure 2.1 Schematic diagram of news dynamic

production and the technological imperative of interactivity – the paradigmatic signs and means of global informational capitalism. These aspects linked newsroom structures inextricably with the content they produced and legitimized:  the imagination of a global city belonging rightfully to the new middle class and the corporate class, which was itself filtered through global templates of urban upgrading and technocratic urban governance. I give a schematic representation of this dynamic in Figure 2.1. This model, as I elaborate further in the subsequent sections, reveals how the discourses of global informational capitalism impact urban transformation through the interpretations and active interventions of the print news media (most prominently a section of English-language media in India), at a time when newspapers faced the challenge of reinventing themselves to survive the burgeoning new media. It presents an important case where the practices of print media in an age of informational capitalism pre-empt digital interactivity and inscribe the urban as ‘global’ city through numerous newsroom innovations. In advancing inquiry into these intersections, I focus on ‘porosity’ as a specific organizational practice within the elite English-language news media. Rather than considering porosity as outcomes lying outside the organizational logic, I  understand it as integral to the reframed news ideologies of the corporate media. In the hands of the corporate media, porosity remained not as unnoticed and informal perforations, but as ‘patterned permeations’ that enlisted specific readers and reader-icons into the routines of news-making, often turning such visits and permeations

Porosities and flexible newsrooms

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into extraordinary events worthy of reportage. Patterned permeations emerged at the intersection of the commercial logic of news production and the transforming urban landscapes of post-reform India, seeking to obscure from view the systematic exclusion of a large section of urban news publics through the rhetoric of reader connectivity. However, I also show how, precisely through the new forms of porosity, many voices came to share journalistic authority, constituting what might be termed as ‘democracy by default’, which opened up spaces for democratic participation, at least as a discursive engagement, for a wider range of class groups in the city.

Porosities and flexible newsrooms

Within professional narratives, newsrooms in India are portrayed as ‘public institutions’ accessible for ‘any’ interested reader. In normative press theories, they are public spaces of reflective deliberation available for ‘anonymous’ rational publics. Porosity is then redundant since the rule is open-access newsrooms. Journalistic narratives in India, however, quickly qualify such highfalutin claims by adding that these newsrooms also served as centers for patron–client relations, akin to political party offices. Aside from being the physical location for centralized news production, newsrooms were key sites for interaction where ‘ordinary reading publics’ came to meet politically connected editors/proprietors with petitions to mediate on their behalf for political and other favors, often through networks of caste and regional sentiments. This practice proceeded alongside innumerable visits by ordinary readers to attract journalists’ attention with their ‘extraordinary stories’ or grievances. After the sudden expansion of private television, such interactions multiplied within newspaper offices. On the porous boundaries of news organizations in India, Ursula Rao shows convincingly how networks of interaction between the Hindi news media and the public emerge as a result of newspapers’ ‘open-door policies’ to involve readers in news creation.3 In newspapers like the TOI, this active porosity did not, however, result from an unregulated deluge of access points or a flood of avenues for participatory democracy. Within the Times group, active porosity was a well-formulated strategy to enlist selected reader groups in news-making in more robust and direct ways, keeping the newsroom as the key locus for editorial innovations. Although the anxieties of losing out to the new media were still not as pronounced as in the Western economies, elite English-language newspapers were alert to a possible upheaval. Alongside introducing longer commentary articles and visual appeal in page layouts, the strategies to cope with

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the ‘interactive new media’ focused on new organizational practices and efforts to turn the newsroom from a ‘static’ center for journalistic production to a more ‘dynamic’ site for patterned interactions, based on the firmly entrenched ideology of sharing ‘journalistic authority’ with the readers. The management asked the journalists to reconcile to the changing reality of eroding journalistic authority – that they could no longer hold the monopoly over public meanings of events and issues, but should share, happily and voluntarily, authorial legitimacy by inviting readers to contribute content, guest edit the issues and even conduct interviews. If this was partly a spin off from similar practices of citizen journalism in the television media, there was also the influence of new-age management principles circulating across different spheres of the corporate sector, most significantly corporate advertising and the high-tech outsourcing industry. New management practices within the newsrooms made explicit references to similar ‘best practices’ in the software sector. Greater penetration of corporate capital in the post-1990s news media and the rising salience of management graduates within the branding, advertising and circulation departments brought the newsrooms closer to the organizational sites of the new economy sectors, while certainly recognizing the specificities of news practice.4 A significant strand of ‘new age’, primarily American, management principles that penetrated the newsrooms in the 1990s related to reaffirmed ideas about journalists as responsibilized individual contributors, driven by internal competition, team work and ‘open work cultures’ in which journalists interact with the editor on a daily basis, often on the news floor during his/her ‘informal’ tours.5 While these ideas only reinforced shared images of journalists as self-motivated individual workers chasing the news stories on their own initiative and out of a passion for the profession and the entrenched narratives of journalism as a ‘calling’ rather than a job, there was, however, a significant shift in the role and status of the editor within the organization. The inaccessible chambers of the editors were opened up for the employees and the editor was moved from the ceremonious center to having the status of an ‘ordinary employee’ who was simultaneously familiar and sympathetic to marketing imperatives. As I describe in the previous chapter, the editor was on a par with, and at times subordinate to, the branding and marketing wings of the paper. These measures brought significant changes in the organizational structures, entailing several contradictions between theory and practice.6 However, what took root was the idea that the newsroom was a ‘flexible’ floor of news production in which not only the journalists but also the readers had a stake, and news priorities had to remain fluid to address the vicissitudes of reading preferences.

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Equally, with the rise of the interactive new media, monological textual representation appeared even more inadequate. In her discussion of theater and performance, Josette Féral draws an important distinction between theater as ‘representing’ the distant and the absent as opposed to performances embodying forms of the here, the present.7 To frame the dilemma of the print news media in this language, the challenge was to move beyond the realm of representation into performance in the ‘real present’. Patterned permeations emerged at this critical intersection between new-age corporate management and perceptions of threat posed by the interactive media. In the regional news field of Bangalore, it introduced a new form of urban politics that cemented a certain common sense about the ‘negative state’, while at the same time building up performative resources for highly mediatized, belligerent and confrontational civic activism. Were these practices different at all from earlier newsroom cultures?

Interaction to activism

Until the TOI introduced its elaborate plans of guest visits and public events, key newspapers in the region owned by the Deccan Herald group and the Indian Express group engaged directly with the larger society through community activities that were not underwritten by an explicit and clearly spelt-out market agenda. The Deccan Herald group’s story-writing contests (for instance, Deepavali Katha Spardhe  – Story Contest for the Festival of Lights) and the Express group’s poetry contests were, at best, aimed at generating content for special festival supplements and magazines published by the news groups. Extending its social agenda, the Deccan Herald group also instituted scholarship schemes for children from underprivileged backgrounds and supported their higher education. Rewarding students from economically deprived families for their excellent academic performance in public exams was another common initiative. While these community activities that were aimed also at accumulating symbolic capital continued into the new millennium, by early 2000 there was, however, a clear turn toward integrating the marketing needs and community activities of the newspapers, leading to a spurt in public events aimed specifically at target readership groups such as school children, college youth and middle-class working couples. If The Hindu organized annual guidance sessions for students aspiring to higher degrees in engineering, the Deccan Herald busied itself in holding quiz contests and rock festivals for the college youth, and the Kannada Prabha had health camps on its campus. Often, private service providers and consumer goods manufacturers occupied newspaper campuses to hold

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fairs for the public, strategically yoking together marketing needs and social services by drawing on the legitimizing and publicizing banners of the newspapers. Capping all these efforts were the ubiquitous job fairs that became a key selling point for the special supplements for job listings. Following the ebbs and flows of the job market, almost all the mainstream papers set up makeshift tents on large public grounds in the city for annual or biannual job fairs to bring together prospective employers and job-seekers, especially from the IT, healthcare and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sectors. There was also a surge in the annual awards handed out by news organizations for exemplary ‘public personalities’, from corporate tycoons and cricketers to non-governmental organization workers and bureaucrats. Guided by the principles of ‘reality shows’ on television and the overarching trend toward ‘personalization of news’,8 these public awards created a long trail of competitive stardom, insistently enlisting audience participation via email and mobile phone messages. Patterned permeations of the TOI took these interactions to a new level of collaboration by actively involving specific reader groups – urban youth, white-collar workers and leaders of the new economy  – in the routines of news production and transforming these visits and interactions into ‘special events’ of public significance. Ironically this occurred simultaneously with the management’s efforts to closely monitor visitors at the Times office by deploying expensive private security. I could never enter the newsrooms of the TOI without signing a huge visitors’ log book and flashing an identity card for visitors, just as several other visitors who patiently waited for their turn to sign the log book, receive a number-coded identity card and sign out when leaving the campus. Private security had become a common practice across many newspapers in the city. Only a handful of Kannada papers continued the older practice of open access newsrooms with no or lax security. Together with private security, the TOI tightened control over direct interactions between journalists and public relations agencies by installing Medianet, the in-house public relations unit that could plug revenue leaks in promotional content. As these controls were under way, the paper, on the other end, actively invited selected reader groups to share the authority of news-making. If guest visits such as that of Pankaj Advani were a way to infuse interactivity, the TOI’s ‘city campaigns’ as intentional porosity started a new trend in pushing the boundaries of newspapers from reporting events and disseminating information – by being invisible ‘governmental and political actors’ in democratic societies9 – toward assuming the role of a visible campaigner and active player in city politics. Prioritizing local news, as described in the previous chapter, was a key influence

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in transforming interactions into civic activisms since journalists faced the need and opportunity to augment city news. With his characteristic fervor, H.S. Balram, the editor of the paper, told me that ‘[l]‌ocalization of news does not mean reporting whatever is happening. We went on a campaign mode. We were not reporters, we were campaigners.’ Through campaigns that raised concern over physical infrastructure problems, especially vehicular traffic and road development projects in the city, the TOI recast the role of the newspapers in terms of belligerent forms of civic activism. The TOI drove civic activism around physical infrastructure not just by publishing stories in its editions but also by physically organizing campaigns and attending to all the mundane logistics that accompany them. Curiously, these initiatives in the Bangalore edition of the paper were also underpinned by subtle forms of ‘guilt perception’ among journalists who were reeling under the dilemma of the social service model of journalism versus the open pro-market agenda of the paper after 1990. Thus, when the journalists were left to themselves to draw plans to shore up the localization strategy of the management beyond covering local news, the editorial team in the late 1990s decided to organize ‘open house’ discussions between the citizens and bureaucrats at various neighborhoods in the city. ‘Times Connect’, as these events were called, engaged the citizens in direct, face-to-face conversations with bureaucrats of the public agencies responsible for power supply, water and transport services for the city, as well as the police department. Journalists at the TOI recalled that direct interactions between citizens and bureaucrats gave them ‘huge satisfaction’ since, on several occasions, these initiatives succeeded in improving road conditions and solving other problems in the neighborhood. These initiatives not only coincided with, but also co-constituted, new forms of middle-class activism enacted especially by neighborhood associations over the last two decades across the megacities of India, to demand efficient delivery of public services such as garbage collection and good roads. As Janaki Nair observes:  ‘This form of political involvement privileges the private home owner (namely the taxpayer) as the quintessential citizen, and energizes hitherto apolitical sections of the city, women and retired people in particular, to take an interest in maintaining a vigil over the problems of the neighborhood.’10 However, as far as the TOI was concerned, such gains at the neighborhood level were short-lived, since the paper soon abandoned micro-level democratic activism after building up circulation figures in the desired localities and boosting its circulation across the city.11 After the gains in circulation, micro-level middle-class politics was replaced with grand

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‘city level campaigns’, guided by the newly empowered branding team. By then, the definition of the new reader in terms of the neoliberal precepts of choice, self-responsibility and civic entrepreneurship were more clearly established within the organization. Among other factors, these practices instated in the Indian cities what Lisa Duggan describes as the neoliberal logic that prioritizes consumer citizenship at the expense of social welfare, using the seemingly neutral language of personal responsibility, empowerment and choice.12 Neoliberal news discourse did not mean a complete overturn of the welfare state, whose checkered history in postcolonial India has always remained an issue of contention. Rather it was aimed at reclaiming state interventions for specific urban privileges through the ideological frame that opposed ‘corrupt state’ with ‘efficient market’. The new rules of the newsroom mandated the journalists to refrain from writing against the governments through sustained investigative reports and instead inscribe the readers as citizen-entrepreneurs in ways that posed no threat to the commercial stability of the paper.13 It was expected that journalists would adhere to this tacit editorial policy, even when the paper engaged in more ‘in-the-face writing’ to challenge local officials or political leaders to redress civic issues. Civic entrepreneurship of the citizens, however, was represented as incomplete and even ineffective without the mediation of corporate actors. Corporate leaders promised to fill the ‘leadership deficit’ in the country through their ‘proven success’ in business, especially in IT and other emerging industries such as health tourism, healthcare, aviation, real estate, fashion, advertising and higher education. This perception resonated with the paper’s new focus on corporate ‘stars’ as well as new public–private partnership (PPP) models implemented in the city for urban planning and governance. It was also the time when new partnership models for development were introduced at the behest of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other multinational funding agencies that came with the vocabulary of ‘efficient urban governance’ and ‘stake-holders’. PPP models were introduced for projects as varied as city sanitation, road construction and bus station renovations, involving the leaders of the new economy and strategic bureaucratic actors who together sought to partially eclipse the salience of the political class. Within the TOI, to represent corporate leaders as experts in urban governance also implied a refusal to accept the political class as capable of ‘managing the city’. Reinforcing the policies of the liberalization-friendly regional governments to involve new economy leaders as experts and partners in urban development, the TOI started a new trend of appending its city stories with corporate sanctification. City stories on roads, garbage collection, traffic and

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heritage were almost always buttressed by ‘Expertspeak’, a new section introduced to feature short comments and suggestions from the captains of the new economy. Through the vision of rights-bearing, individual citizens fighting for the city with the expert help of corporate leaders, the TOI unveiled several city campaigns with grand titles like Unlock Bangalore and Citizen Agenda, positioning itself as a crusader for the city and promising new possibilities of democratic participation for the new middle class. Across all these campaigns, the physical infrastructure of the city emerged as an important trope in constructing the ‘ideal-local’, reinforcing what James Scott terms the ideology of high modernism:  ‘the effort to search rational order in aesthetic terms, the belief that an efficient city is one that looks regimented and orderly in a geometrical sense.’14 The campaigns reflected the policy of urban upgrading embraced by urban planners across many regions in the world, including countries like India and Brazil where global templates of urban renewal privileging physical infrastructure projects were imported into policy circles with little critical reflection. ‘The limitations of urban upgrading’, as Ananya Roy forcefully argues, ‘are the limitations of the ideology of space. What is redeveloped is space, the built environment and physical amenities rather than people’s capacities or livelihoods.’15 For sure, this is not to say that physical infrastructure does not impact livelihood opportunities. Rather, that the focus on physical infrastructure aggressively pushed by the TOI campaigns narrowed the vision of the city to the concerns of particular class groups and their claims for private comfort through public infrastructure. I will discuss one such campaign in greater detail, to illustrate how the reframed notions of objectivity and brand logics of the TOI articulated with global templates of urban upgrading and co-created activisms to demand an efficient ‘global’ city.

Refresh Bangalore: steering the brand, veering around objectivity

In 2006, the TOI unveiled a new city-wide campaign and gave it the title Refresh Bangalore. The campaign brought the visions of the ideal-local and various elements of market-enabled desire discourse together in a tone of desperate urgency to ‘put the bang back in Bangalore’. Like most other city campaigns of the TOI, Refresh Bangalore ran for several days and organized many activities across the city, but this time with an alarmed sense of eroding competitiveness and depleting the charm of the ‘high-tech’ city. Several changes in the regional political

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field prompted this sense of alarm. Unlike the liberalization-friendly government led by the Indian National Congress Party in 2004, the subsequent coalition governments hesitated to openly involve corporate leaders in urban development or focus excessively on Bangalore, since politicians saw these two policies as key reasons for the electoral debacle of the previous regime. The Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF), the much publicized public–private partnership project for urban development, was the first initiative to be dismantled by the new coalition government of Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)) and the Indian National Congress, owing to pressure from the JD(S) leaders, a section of Congress party leaders and elected representatives of the city municipal body. The general political climate indicated greater reluctance among the political leaders to publicly embrace corporate icons for urban development. This did not mean that the technocratic visions of urban development had stopped influencing state policies. In 2009, a senior technocrat-urban policy consultant brusquely dismissed my queries about the ‘demise’ of BATF, stating confidently that these interventions had just taken a different identity and different routes to influence the state. Corporate power began to negotiate with the state through nominated committees such as the Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure and Development Task Force (ABIDE) without drawing excessive media publicity in the later years of the 2000s. However, the urban development cultures of public–private partnership confronted many new challenges by a range of actors, including a section of the political class, caste-based organizations, Kannada associations and non-governmental organizations. Informed by a decade of advocacy campaigns favoring public–private partnership models for urban governance, the TOI saw the eroding significance of the corporate class and expert committees in urban development as a sign of the downward spiral of the city’s prospects to develop world-class infrastructure. As with the new economy leaders in the city, the TOI was convinced that the city would lose its global advantage if left to the political class dubbed as debauched and inefficient. R.K. Misra, a corporate leader promoted by the TOI as a future political leader for the country through its Lead India campaign, commented, ‘Bangalore no longer enjoys the number one position as a destination of choice for new business. What is ailing the city today is poor infrastructure, lack of civic discipline and abysmal municipal governance.’ The overarching message of the campaign was the need to ‘restore’ the positive image of ‘Brand Bangalore’ as ‘synonymous with parks, IT, pubs and great weather’. The TOI framed the government’s reluctance to involve the private sector as indicative of ‘failed political leadership’ and indifference toward the city.

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The stories under Refresh Bangalore thus assumed a confrontational tone, urging the local and state governments to improve road infrastructure through elevated expressways, flyovers, underpasses and parking facilities and to deploy traffic regulation plans. At the peak of the campaign, the paper organized a panel discussion among seven ‘corporate honchos’ (some of whom were nominated members of the high-powered committee on city infrastructure) and a senior bureaucrat in the state government to discuss the problems affecting the city and offer solutions. These corporate leaders, representing the IT, advertising, airlines, beverages and real estate sectors (incidentally also the key advertisers for the paper) had a common appeal: revive the public–private partnership model to encourage civic entrepreneurship among urban citizens, enlist corporate participation in urban development and keep the elected government at a ‘safe’ distance. A  panelist suggested that PPP projects should be ‘insulated from the government’. This suggestion was carried as a headline in the next day’s edition of the paper. The panelists invoked the discourse of the ‘taxpayers’ right’ and challenged the government to ‘respect Bangalore and its taxpayers’ by supplying clean water, uninterrupted power and better roads. Vijay Mallya, a leading liquor baron in the region, openly shared the campaign’s simmering frustration with the government’s ‘apathy for the city’ and warned that Karnataka was becoming the ‘Bihar of the South’ (South India), invoking the horror of lawlessness and crime that epitomized Bihar in the popular imagination. A similar panel discussion organized two weeks later featured a historian, a civil society activist and the Chief Minister,16 alongside the captains of the new economy. The range of topics discussed was wider than the other panel, covering the heritage and history of the city as well as concern for the underprivileged. However, the focus on physical infrastructure, access to English-language education and a ‘clean and green city’ framed the larger contours of the discussion, so much so that the Chief Minister’s statements were collapsed into anti-political rhetoric of false and vacuous promises of the political class. The caption in the next day’s edition read: ‘The Chief Minister did what he does best – made more announcements and gave more promises.’ A similar invective had run through the course of the campaign, with some industrialist-experts openly urging the authorities to consult global city planners and infrastructure experts to draw a long-term Master Plan for the city that ‘will not become outdated with political changes, business and development dynamics’. Corporate leaders’ calls for greater private participation and controlled planning in urban development almost always became a headline for the TOI’s editions.

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Refresh Bangalore, like many other city campaigns of the TOI, resulted from the organizational practice of what might be called the ‘de-centering of news’. No longer were the Times journalists asked to meticulously follow the conventional news venues such as Vidhana Soudha (State Legislative Assembly) and the Press Club (state-level journalists’ association). Although journalists at the TOI did make regular trips to both the venues, the stylistic shift toward combining ‘snappy’ stories with long ‘analytical packages’ (news features) and greater emphasis on ‘exclusive stories’ gave much discretion for the news organization (if not individual journalists) in choosing and highlighting stories. This was in stark contrast to the conventional emphasis on covering ‘routine stories’ based on press conference invites and visits to common news-gathering destinations. Journalists were asked to come up with innovative ways of news-gathering without relying on overused news venues visited by journalists of all the other newspapers. A senior circulation manager pointed out that these measures were expected to help the paper to escape from its ‘me-too’ existence in the news market. ‘De-centering of news’, however, implied much more than mere emphasis on exclusive stories. It signaled a shift toward de-centering the position of conventional news as a form of content derived from reporting events external to the news organization. Concomitantly, it also signaled the de-centering of journalists as a group of organizational actors within the business model of the newspaper. Simply put, journalists and conventional news stories no longer occupied the center stage in the newspaper’s business model and organizational structure. If eroding editorial autonomy was the most visible form of this de-centering, there were also practices that systematically de-emphasized news coverage of external events and partly replaced it with management-initiated cultural events, consumer exhibitions, job fairs and city-level campaigns like Refresh Bangalore. The organizational thrust to conceive and execute city campaigns and the experience of organizing similar events in the past had established a strong enough routine backed by management control that there was little scope for divergences in the tonality or thematic focus of the campaign. Indeed, a few senior editorial executives took pride in their ability to line up luminaries for the events, and showcased this to contend for higher positions within the company. One such ambitious editorial staff member was promoted as the chief editor of a newly launched sister publication of the TOI, after his stint as a city bureau chief during which he had successfully organized many such city campaigns. Internal competition and management control transformed these initiatives as events that needed efficient execution in a time-bound manner, and not so much an intervention whose basic premises had to be constantly revised and

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revisited. The routinized formats continued, despite the cynical dismissals of such events by the junior editorial staff who jocularly called them ‘mega fairs’, or muted skepticism among a few senior editorial members. In part, the rising prominence of the branding department provided the organizational means to ensure this efficiency, as it devised strategies to ensure, among other things, the survival of the print form in an age of new media expansion. With striking parallels to the consumer goods sector in post-reform India,17 the TOI employed several branding strategies, even before installing a department by that name, to extend the provenance of brand over the field of news media and seek consumer allegiance through several TOI-sponsored events. A brand executive at the TOI explained: ‘Brand initiatives are meant to keep the brand visibility high. In today’s market, there is so much competition that there should be sustained efforts to make the brand visible, active, and active in the right direction. To be active in the right direction is very important, as only this will help the brand.’ Keeping the brand in the right direction, for the most part, translated into visions of keeping the city ‘on the right track’. Such was the influence of the branding department that a senior editorial member described the TOI city campaigns squarely as ‘brand campaigns’. ‘They need editorial [the editorial team] because it gives them credibility,’ he added, with a hint of cynicism. In his illuminating analysis of branding and advertising in liberalized India, Arvind Rajagopal argues that branding attempts to ‘recode the relationship between person and thing, between a thing’s utility and its aesthetic properties, between the individual appreciation of the qualities of day-to-day objects and the public significance of this recognition’.18 In the case of the TOI, the aesthetic properties of the brand related directly to new forms of urban citizenship, articulated in terms of the market logic of access, choice and individual rights, including the cultural rights of ‘cosmo-Bangaloreans’. The understanding of the ‘new reader’ and the ideology of a ‘global city’ fed into the notions of urban citizenship and shaped the branding initiatives in line with the paper’s larger ‘brand philosophy of focusing on the urban’. Management experts claim that brand logics allude to ‘the semiotic capacity of the brand to promise social imaginaries as use values of commodity consumption’.19 The TOI, operating as it was in the market of publicity, extended these social imaginaries into the democratic possibilities of citizen participation, to offer them as use values. As Naomi Klein, critic of brand aesthetics, perceptively observes: ‘The effect, if not always the original intent, of advanced branding is to nudge the hosting culture into the background and make the brand the star. It is not to sponsor

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culture, but to be the culture.’20 Similarly, the TOI did not just represent ‘democratic culture’ but positioned itself as ‘urban democracy’ through which citizens could raise their voices, share their grievances and challenge the authorities to redress their problems. The Refresh Bangalore campaign thus solicited reader reactions to the changes in the city and flashed them with profile pictures, alongside involving hundreds of readers as active audiences in panel discussions. The campaign sought to strike a balance between belligerence and jubilation  – between a confrontational stance toward local state actors and the optimism of youthfulness and progress in the city. Both sentiments were yoked together in the emotionally punctuated narrative about the city. Using striking images of major industries set up in the city since the 1950s, the stories narrativized Bangalore as a city destined to succeed and deserving of all success. These narratives invoked a sense of city patriotism and spurred urban boosterism by drawing on the ethos of competitive urbanism unleashed in the country and across many Third World cities after 1990, when major cities began to compete for transnational capital, skilled labor and ‘brand value’. The celebration of the high-tech city through its selective history was amplified not only through sepia-toned photographs but also by celebrity quotations from corporate stars who appealed to the citizens to love and care for the city. Subrato Bagchi, a leading software industrialist, urged: ‘Everyone says Bangalore’s ailing. It’s not true. It’s just that we have stopped loving the city. When you love someone or something intensely, nothing can come in between.’ Together with the vocabulary of affect, the sheer momentum of the campaign demanded new rhetoric and catchy aphorisms, which drove the creative team of journalists within the TOI to coin new idioms and metaphors to describe the city. Edwin Sudhir, a senior editorial staff member who played a key role in the campaign, eulogized the city by drawing metaphors from the latest Hollywood movies and popular English-language novels:  ‘What binds them, and an increasing number of global souls, is the Bangalore Code. A  code that is hardwired into the city and its people, linking each to another like the helical strands of the DNA molecule. Like … the DNA of life, the Bangalore Code too has its own ATCG – Accommodating, Technophiliac, Cosmopolitan and Green.’ The DNA metaphor, inspired by the excitement around the then just-released Hollywood movie The Da Vinci Code (2006), tried to recreate similar excitement around the image of a well-knit high-tech city. Much of this creativity emerged from the pressure to execute a successful campaign with all the demands on linguistic embellishments and visual appeal. The content was then not entirely a reflection of what journalists believed. However, some

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journalists were more engaged than others in linking the content with the stylistics of the campaigns, and in smoothing out the inconsistencies in the discourse. Jayanth Kodkani, a senior editorial staff member of the paper, was one such articulate journalist. I  asked him if the cherished new reader as ‘an ambitious individual chasing his dreams’ drowned in the grand narrative of the city to which all belonged and owed allegiance. He reasoned that the implicit communitarian spirit of the celebratory city discourse and the imagination of an ‘individual reader’ with private interests was not a contradiction. Indeed, they were complementary: For the modern youngster, it is ‘I’ that matters. For instance, there is ‘I-pod’, ‘I’ being at the center. That is the sense of connecting with the world. So, you treat the reader as individual but as an individual he relates to the city – how can I drive around the city. We may be talking about the roads. But it finally connects to his concern. Without addressing the city, we could not reach the reader-individual.

These visions extended beyond the newsroom. Jayanth Kodkani and Edwin Sudhir had recently finished editing an anthology on Bangalore, Beantown Boomtown Bangalore, to compile the histories and aspirations of the city. The Refresh Bangalore campaign embodied a similar enthusiasm, while the engrained framing of Bangalore as a silicon city shaped the journalists’ shared literary endeavor just as well. Following the vision of the new reader and his presumed needs (always male in journalists’ narratives), several events were organized as part of the campaign  – story contests, a health summit and career counseling for students. Throughout the campaign, readers moved around various event venues, in quest of jobs, fitness tips, political debate and creative expression. As a finale, the paper organized a marathon for city residents, offering it as an embodied enactment of urban concerns framed as important and urgent  – a cause worthy enough for the citizens to sacrifice their middle-class routines and catch the ‘campaign fever’. The marathon posters urged the middle-class residents, ‘Come, lets run to chase the great Bangalore dream’, as thousands took to the streets to join the city run. The fitness of the body stood as a metaphor for the aspirational world-class city. In all these efforts to infuse interactivity, the TOI co-opted and reframed the long-standing professional tenet of objectivity as embodied urban subjectivity. The campaigns and guest visits organized by the paper further blurred the boundaries between news as ‘external events’21 and those co-produced by the newspaper by deploying its own resources in more explicit ways than the subtle role of journalists’ subjectivities in ‘manufacturing’ news.22 The campaigns were not burdened by the need to negotiate the truth claims of news;23 rather, they were offered as

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embodying the ‘true and unmediated’ narratives of aggrieved urban citizens through events, petitions and panels. In her work on Pentecostalism in Ghana and Brazil, Birgit Meyer makes an incisive argument about new media technologies and religious practices: ‘Invoked to authorize sensations of spiritual powers as immediate and real, media are prone to “disappear” or become “hyper-apparent” in the act of mediation.’24 The paradox, as she brilliantly demonstrates, is that ‘immediacy is not prior to, but rather a product of mediation’. In Patrick Eisenlohr’s eloquent formulation, it reveals the ‘propensity of the media to erase themselves in the act of mediation’.25 It is not any intrinsic feature of media per se, but the very socio-cultural forces and historically inflected practices that make mediation invisible. If the practices of religious mediation invoke a sense of the immediate presence of the divine,26 patterned permeations, I suggest, revealed the efforts of a section of print media to recreate a sense of the immediate presence of ‘the urban’ as aspirational spaces for work, growth, leisure and recreation, for the classes that are poised to benefit from India’s liberalization, yet are burdened by the ‘corrupt’ state. The practices of denying mediation sought to reinstate the urban middle class as quintessential citizens with the authority to exercise normative inhabitation. These efforts signaled a crisis of representation as much as the challenge of interactive media and branding. A  sudden explosion of diverse media forms deflected the Indian media’s relatively uncontested embrace of ‘English modernity’ privileging educated middle-class groups in India. The task was then to overcome the crisis of representation by moving beyond the limitations of textual production into embodied, sensory forms of ‘immediacy’ that depend on ‘the particular, authorized views’ upheld, in our case, by the symbolic and material resources of organized news production.27 As with films, these practices relied on the ‘illusion of authenticity’ and immediation,28 as they sought to transform monological textual production of news into an ‘unmediated’ sensory and embodied experience of the city and the civic. Like films, they promised to function ‘simultaneously as data and narrative’  – to present news not merely as information but a narrative unfolding in time and space, of which the readers were themselves the key protagonists. As with e-governance or religious media, the promise of immediate and transparent access to newsrooms served to deny and dissimulate their profoundly political character.29

Middle-class contests: the ‘spillover’ effects

So far I have argued that campaigns like Refresh Bangalore sought to systematically legitimize the claims of the new middle class and corporate

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stars, privileging issues of physical infrastructure, city aesthetics, entertainment and civic governance affecting tax-paying citizens. While these campaigns no doubt fueled the exclusionary discourse of ‘India Shining’, they also incited diverse, if often unintended, effects. Precisely through the new forms of porosity and refashioning of news as personalized narratives of urban citizens, print-enabled spaces for activism became available for a broader group of middle-class residents in the city. These spaces resulted from a range of formal and informal news practices  – from changes in the linguistic styles of news to shifting beat routines. Because the management instructed the journalists to avoid gathering news stories routinely from ‘political beats’ and instead seek reader opinion on various issues, patterned permeations began to include intense and incessant ways of enlisting reader participation. One afternoon, I noticed a young city correspondent escorting a high-ranking city bureaucrat from the revenue department to a conference hall on the Times news floor. The correspondent had organized phone-in interactions between the bureaucrat and the readers. For about an hour, readers could dial in and get clarifications on land and taxation rules from the bureaucrat-guest. The correspondent would record the conversation and report it as a news story for the benefit of other readers. Such interactions between state representatives and ordinary publics on the news floor were a common practice at the TOI. They helped ordinary readers to gain access to high-ranking bureaucrats, whose offices were often inaccessible without proper ‘recommendation’ by known public figures or other channels of influence. In creating these spaces, the TOI was following a longer tradition of studio interactions with public figures at state-owned radio and television. However, the TOI gave the citizens an opportunity to assume a more critical voice in contrast to strongly regulated interactions within the state-owned media. More importantly, the performance of participation not only unsettled conventional news sources but was also productive in reassembling audiences as active citizens whose opinion mattered in any story on the city. Sometimes, these went slightly beyond the articulated category of the new middle class. Readership surveys revealed that 60 percent of the paper’s readers came from the middle-income groups with a monthly household income (MHI) of between 4,000 and 12,000 rupees (73 to 220 USD). The income group with an MHI of between 8,000 and 10,000 rupees (150 to 184 USD) formed the largest readership segment (IRS 2008, R2). There was thus a large middle class below the income levels of white-collar workers or corporate leaders that constituted the bulk of the growing readership for the paper. Behind this expansion of the reader base was an organizational decision to consciously render the

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standard of English accessible to a broader array of readers. Indeed, with the advent of private news broadcasting, newspapers across the board ‘lowered their entry barriers’ not only through tabloidized techniques and content but also through accessible and colloquial forms of English that often drew on the idioms, metaphors and phrases of the regional language and popular movies. This was striking in the Bangalore Mirror, which had clearly instructed its editorial members to keep the language ‘conversational, local and racy’. Senior editorial management advised the copy-editors and reporters to ‘demystify’ bureaucratic and economic jargon such that ordinary readers understood how the news item was relevant to them and their everyday lives. Even within the Kannada newspapers, especially VK and Kannada Prabha, elite forms of Sanskritized and synthetic Kannada gave way to more hybrid and colloquial idioms, liberally using a mix of English and Kannada words and reflecting similar changes in other language markets like the Hindi media. Equally important was the drive to localize news content that allowed the journalists to report locally relevant issues in greater volume. Journalists invited reader responses to public issues such as price hikes of everyday commodities, state corruption and urban development plans. They were published in the editions in ways that symbolically brought them on a par with conventional news stories generated through bureaucratic, political and corporate sources. My Times, My Voice, a dedicated section in the main news pages of the paper, for instance, regularly solicited reader opinion on a range of public issues. Perhaps the most striking example of reader-driven, media-enabled democratic agendas was the collective effort to sustain the institution of the Lokayukta, the public ombudsman,30 which had emerged as a new vanguard of citizen rights against corruption in Karnataka around 2005, through modes of media visibility made available by the expanding private media. The Lokayukta became a popular institutional site for public grievances in these years, when Justice Venkatachala, a retired Supreme Court judge and the head ombudsman, skillfully used the growing networks of television news and print media to conduct raids on corrupt officials and admonish them before the journalists. The strategy, as I  witnessed through my years of television journalism covering the ‘Lokayukta beat’, was to catch the corrupt officials in ‘traps’ just when they demanded or accepted bribes from ordinary citizens, and ‘expose’ them before the media. As one of the first reporters to receive the cue from the Lokayukta team about an impending raid, I would hurry with the camera crew to reach the Lokayukta office, and then follow the trail of cars with red beacon lights to a location kept fully confidential till the moment we arrived there. The Lokayukta team was almost always

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accompanied by television crews and print journalists during these raids on government officers. The Lokayukta team drew its influence through the vast media publicity given to these raids. These traps rarely culminated in legal conviction but became ‘traps of visibility’ in which the offender squirmed under the burning gaze of the media and through the media with innumerable viewers watching. This critical visual trap alluded neither to the Frankfurt School’s overwhelmed spectator nor to Kant’s detached aesthete. In this, visibility was itself a political practice. At its best, it unfolded as ‘exposure’ and provided the much needed democratic intervention in governance. At its worst, it was what Walter Benjamin would term ‘aestheticized politics’, in which the ruling bloc ‘sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves’.31 Such was the popularity of the Lokayukta that ordinary citizens considered Justice Venkatachala as their ‘savior, as one who helped them in matters ranging from getting pension to securing admission to schools and hospitals’. When Justice Santosh Hegde, who succeeded Justice Venkatachala, resigned from his position in 2010, protesting against government apathy and inaction on various investigations he had initiated against corrupt officials, the TOI set in motion its reader-response routines to gather the opinion of young readers and other sections of the city to mount a popular protest against the government’s indifference toward Lokayukta’s recommendations, urging the Lokayukta to reconsider his decision.32 The debate continued for several days in the TOI as well as other newspapers and television channels, finally convincing the Lokayukta to withdraw his resignation and continue in the office, upon assurances by the government to grant more legal power to the institution. Although several reasons were cited for his decision, media debates and reader responses in papers like the TOI sustained the momentum of the popular campaign. An equally significant citizen movement fueled by the very routines of reader-response was the middle-class resistance to an ambitious road-widening project proposed by the local government. The project planned to widen ‘arterial’ roads in the residential areas, which passed through some of the most thickly populated older localities of the city. The proposal identified 700 km of roads within the city for broadening, affecting more than 35,000 private properties, which included residential, commercial and open spaces. The official rationale behind road widening was to ease the traffic conditions, since these roads were too narrow to support the increasing traffic. The plan sparked wide resistance from property owners, especially since the local government proposed to acquire properties through the controversial ‘Transferable Development

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Rights’ (TDR) scheme, which offered marketable floor area ratio (building rights) for the property owners in exchange for properties handed over voluntarily for road widening and other public projects. The scheme did not involve monetary compensation. Although TDR did not permit forcible acquisition and was strictly designed as a ‘barter of building rights in exchange for voluntary surrender of land for a stated public purpose’,33 several middle-class property owners were dismayed at the prospect of losing their cherished assets and, as in the case of many families, their only means of livelihood. Several voluntary organizations and middle-class resident associations across the city organized public meetings and protests to voice their resistance to the proposed project. Neighborhood network groups sprung up overnight in areas marked for road-widening projects, including one of the oldest localities where my parents lived. I  saw myself partnering with the activist groups, writing petitions to the local elected representatives and distributing pamphlets to urge people to participate in protest rallies. Although the TOI’s editorial policy was to advocate large infrastructure projects benefiting private commuting in the city, the very organizational practice of inviting reader responses and the editorial principle of reader sensitivity allowed the journalists to report on the protest meets and publicize the dislocating effects of the TDR scheme.34 Catching the crusading tenor of city reports, city correspondents at the TOI used the provisions under the Right to Information Act (RTI) to procure more details on the intended project and regularly updated the property owners on the latest developments, keeping the issue within the gaze of constant media scrutiny.35 The newly emphasized journalistic practice of reader participation and city-level crusades thus not only advanced the cause of the new middle class, but also, at times inadvertently, raised the voice of property-owning lower-middle-class sections. It enhanced their capacity to contest bureaucratic/political heavy-handedness in urban development, while at the same time deflecting the corporate-friendly discourse of the world-class city that privileged, among other things, ‘efficient’ road infrastructure for an unhindered flow of private traffic. If middle-class contestation was fostered in several such instances, the TOI-led middle-class civic activism, however, reached its most definitive limits in contending with the issue of urban poverty. One of the great challenges of patterned permeations is that it can close media avenues to those who are least likely to find mass-mediated means of democratic participation – from unskilled migrant labor and squatters to impoverished Dalits and urban residents living in peripheralized, underserviced areas of the city. The limitations of the ideology of interactivity are also the paradox of branding. Successful brands should not only exhibit symbolic excess of meaning but should

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also simultaneously circumscribe it with clearly defined marketable audiences. Symbolic excess should always accompany a delimited audience.

The poor in the world-class city

It’s OK to be poor, but not to be dirty. T.V. Mohandas Pai, corporate celebrity36

The glass-walled corner office of BM’s editor also serves as the sacrosanct altar for initiating young media graduates into the profession of journalism. Most BM reporters are in their early twenties, often just out of college and excited about their first brush with the professional field. These ‘kids’, as more senior colleagues refer to them, are known to come up with unconventional story ideas, which delightfully combine their near-teenage playfulness with the needs of a ‘racy’ tabloid. Several of them are keen to go the extra mile to prove their skills as journalists and make their mark among their peers. The editor encourages their enthusiastic feats, since youthful and ‘innovative’ story ideas make what the management defines as the brand essence of BM. One such story idea, proposed by a young female reporter at a packed editorial meeting in the editor’s spacious office, draws approving nods from the editor and other senior members of the editorial team. I  notice that the reporter herself sounds unsure in the beginning, but musters courage after encouraging gestures of the editor and slowly unveils her plan before the team. Accompanied by an in-house photographer, she would dress up like a beggar and enter an air-conditioned (AC) public bus in the city. She would sit next to a ‘sophisticated’ passenger in the bus. This would create an unusual scene since the urban poor are least likely to travel in these expensive buses. Co-passengers’ reaction to this ‘brazen’ act of a beggar would be meticulously recorded by her as well as the candid camera of the in-house photographer, who would remain anonymous throughout the act. What will the passengers tell her? How will the bus conductor react? Will she be asked to get off the bus? How does a luxurious AC bus greet a poor beggar? The reporter would find the answers. The plan promises to raise serious questions on the politics of space, but the reporter is content with the dramatic element of this interruption, and so seems the editor. Keen to discuss the details of the ‘operation’, the editor suggests that the reporter take a luxury AC bus that runs to the newly opened Bangalore International Airport. He turns to the photographer and asks him to take photos of ‘the entire process’: how she dresses up like a beggar, how she waits for the bus and so on. Another senior member of the editorial team intervenes to strictly instruct the

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reporter–photographer duo to perform the act the very next day and file the story. At first glance, the English-language daily’s ‘adventurous interruptions’ of ‘the normal’ resembles Garfinkel’s breaching experiments of ethnomethodology to offer radical commentaries on the violence of routines, norms and conventions through active disruptions of socially recognized familiar scenes.37 At BM, these interruptions were performed under the rubric of ‘experiential journalism’. Senior editorial members encouraged the journalists to foreground their subjective experiences by ‘immersing’ themselves in ‘reality’ and present the experiential and situational outcomes of such immersions as news stories for the next day’s edition. However, the act of simulating a beggar-in-an-AC-bus also testified to the distinct role assigned to stories on the poor in BM and many English-language papers in the city. The stories on the poor emerged not as much from the intentions of disrupting the normal to reveal its status quoist violence but from the narrative constraint of appealing to middle- and upper-class readers with gripping and ‘palatable’ stories. These packaged stories aimed to rouse moral panic or sympathy among the readers, or were subsumed within the puckish drama of breaking the routine flow of stories. In neither narrative mode did the stories offer any detailed analysis of poverty or raise the structural questions of inequality. The question of the poor in the new-age English-language news field had at least three registers, coinciding with different phases of mediated desire. In the late 1990s and early years of the 2000s, at the peak of neoliberal euphoria about world-class cities, the poor almost always inhabited the space for stories of philanthropic mediation or entrepreneurial intervention of the rich and the upwardly mobile middle class. Sometimes they were framed as disruptions for an orderly, clean city. Many journalists at the English-language newspapers admitted during conversations that there were clear instructions not to go in-depth on issues concerning the poor. A  young journalist who had just migrated to the English-language media from a Kannada news daily told me that they were encouraged to generate ‘human interest’ stories on ‘a sweeper who had a passion for beads and cooling glass, an honest auto driver who promptly gave back the forgotten bag to the passenger, or a helpless child who drowned in the open drain’. Some journalists believed that such stories confirmed that the newspapers had not, after all, abandoned their social agenda. A young journalist remarked with excitement, ‘[p]‌eople think goodness and honesty are not news. We were the first paper to take it up.’ If these stories on the ‘goodness’ of humanity glorified the poor as conscientious and morally astute subjects (and not a threat after all), other stories subsumed the poor within the aesthetics of

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local flavor, served only in limited portions, and taking care never to burden the middle-class audiences with ‘long, depressing’ stories. A senior English-language journalist revealed, in a tone of sarcasm: A very good human interest story is of interest even for a cosmopolitan East Bangalorean. We wrote a story on Monisha’s survival after her parents committed suicide. This girl is from Vijayanagar … that kind of [downmarket] area. But we don’t mind taking a look at them. It’s like an upmarket woman with a scented handkerchief going to Anandnagar slum for social work.38

The striking image of the ‘upmarket woman with a scented handkerchief’ doing charity work in the slums speaks to the deeply colonial representational strategy that depoliticizes both the causes of poverty and the struggles to overcome inequality and humiliation.39 It was thus not surprising that both spontaneous and organized acts of public protest by marginalized communities in Bangalore received coverage on these very terms, although there were some divergences on the margins of TOI newsroom, which we will see in Chapter  5. Many journalists pointed out that political protests by the poor or the underprivileged would be covered in the newspapers so long as they did not disturb the everyday lives of upper-middle-class professionals. A  senior reporter at an English-language daily candidly stated: all of us know that Dalita Sangharsa Samiti [Forum for Dalit Struggle] … I say it because it came to my mind … has been fighting for the Dalit rights for a long time. If they hold protests, it is worth carrying a para. But if they organize a huge protest with 25,000 people and lock the traffic, I know that our readers are affected. So, I write about the traffic problem.

The ‘traffic problem’ was a key element in the trope of unhindered traffic. This was also the trope through which newspapers like the TOI peddled the ideology of space and flows, framing the poor as obstructions or, at best, passive recipients of the benefits of a prospering world-class city. By the later years of the 2000s, there were some shifts in framing. If BM’s approach to urban poverty was largely shaped by its editorial emphasis on youthful excitement and ‘experiments’ with urban routines, the question of the poor in elite English-language newspapers like the TOI began to reflect the upbeat discourse of multinational agencies on grassroots enterprises of the Third World poor. Partly in response to growing criticism of the elite English-language media’s neglect of stories on poverty and inequality, the TOI revived some coverage on these issues. There were many stories that celebrated the ‘untapped entrepreneurial instinct’ of the marginalized sections and street vendors as pre-modern capitalists, and technological innovations that were hailed as empowering the poor.40 Ananya Roy observes that the culture of poverty

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was framed in the negative sense of the American ‘tangle of pathologies’ in the developed world, whereas the ‘upbeat sense of Third World heroic entrepreneurship’ enveloped policies of international development in the new millennium.41 The particular trope of ‘jugaad’ as organically grown improvisational ingenuity became popular rhetoric to define the uniqueness of Third World poverty. Newspapers like the TOI published regular features on farmers and handicrafts artisans accessing new technologies to connect with the global marketplace, and appended these stories with reinforcing quotes by technology developers and management experts praising the ingenuity of the impoverished. Technological optimism went hand in hand with the post-2000 call for inclusive development, advanced by economists and management experts, to promote ‘pro-poor pro-market’ strategies tapping the consumer power of the poorest Indians as the drivers of future economic growth.42 In all the three frames of philanthropy, morality and enterprise, the structural questions of poverty were obscured or completely erased. On the one hand, the very mechanism of civic activism and localization co-created democratic spaces of participation for the lower-middle-class sections of the population, who could assert their rights and protect their properties, at least against some urban-renewal projects. As illustrated in the previous section, newsroom innovations opened up many avenues of participation for the middle-class and educated migrants in the city, raising their capacity to challenge the rentier state and governmental corruption. This was especially significant since a section of the political class had forged an easy alliance with global capital, spawning intricate networks of mediation to divert the benefits of urban growth to their own kith and kin, accumulating in the process large land banks, gray capital, murky real estate properties, mining estates and technology parks. Some of the largest technology parks in the city were owned by the family members of mighty politicians. On the other hand, however, through the intermediary of brand logics, the excess of practice was constantly contained and even produced to fuel a vision of global modernity and tropes that offered global city as a developmental goal. This was the image of a global city on the march, driven by its educated middle class and the corporate sector, and unencumbered by political processes. As this chapter demonstrates, the discourse gained momentum through multiple nodes in which branding, authorial legitimacy and immediation collided and colluded to transform news production into sensational forms of ‘the urban’. While the symbolic dominance of this discourse no doubt permeated the public cultures of a city like Bangalore, the next three chapters will reveal the structured modes of contestation emerging from the very field of journalism and how the varied forms of contentious

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media politics confronted consumer modernity, corporate consecration and market-centrism underpinning the urban discourse of desire-asaspiration. The alternative media politics around the city were not always ‘progressive’. Nor were they always intended. They found their expression in the news field through practices that exceeded the market narratives of news and, at times, within the very structure of the market model of news. The following chapters will show that these practices were shaped by historically inflected and ‘embedded forms of sociability’ as they negotiated the expanding city and shifts triggered by global capital flows.43 In revealing the nature and consequences of multiple discourses about the city and multiple publics they brought into visibility, I approach news as an inter-organizational and social field where forms of affiliation and news practice co-constitute one another, in tandem with the logics of bilingual news production.

3

The difference machine: Market and field logics of news

The large newsroom next to a commercial transport office in the old locality of Chamarajpet in south Bangalore was striking in its understated physical architecture. Unlike the sealed luxury of the Times of India’s (TOI) air-conditioned office, the newsroom had a more open layout, with wide windows around the hall spilling light and offering glimpses of the outside world to rows of little workstations perched next to each other on dark granite tabletops. The newsroom could have been carved from a large hall designed originally for marriage parties, a factory storehouse or some other such mammoth assemblies. More recently, the windows had been shut by plastic blinds and the whole floor was given a thorough going over by a new team of designers employed by the Times group, the current owner of the property. The group had acquired this newsroom, and not one, but two newspapers that operated from the same news floor, from a local businessman in 2006. Although one of the papers was renamed and revamped after the acquisition, both the newspapers  – Bangalore Mirror (BM), the English-language daily, and Vijaya Karnataka (VK), the Kannada daily – continued to operate from the same news floor. They were now separated by a glass partition, low enough to get a glimpse of the other side without having to stand on tiptoe. The incomplete glass partition was, however, highly misleading. As my friends from both papers confided, the divide ran much deeper. Journalists from the two papers hardly saw eye to eye; they exchanged words sparingly, and when they did, the interactions were limited to rare occasions of sharing news and translating stories. If BM reporters regarded the other side of their newsroom as ‘orthodox’, VK journalists found their neighbors amusing, shallow and wasteful. During my fieldwork, my journalist friends at BM and VK enthusiastically introduced me to new slang and acronyms to describe ‘the other’ in the newsroom. Since the day BM published a lead story on an affluent senior couple searching desperately for their lost puppy in the city, VK journalists had promptly dubbed their neighbors ‘nayi beatnor u’, those on the dog beat. My friend at VK once complained that these stories 90

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smacked of a callous disregard for the real problems ailing millions living in the city, thanks to ‘English mandi’ (‘English-speaking people’) and their shallow love for puppies, gardens and gourmet food. Mutual suspicion and contempt ran deep in the newsrooms, often flaring into view during meetings inside the chief editors’ offices, separated, again, only by a thin aluminum partition. The invisible ‘architecture’ of difference and antipathy between VK and BM newsrooms, housed as they were in the same physical structure, holds a mirror to the larger field of news production in Bangalore and a similar structure of bilingual news fields seen across the linguistically marked subnational states of India. If, on the one hand, commercial media’s transformation in India was significantly aligned to institutional changes on a global scale, as we saw in the previous chapters, the specific news cultures of the bilingual media revealed a greater confluence of factors and diverse iterations. If news is ‘the product of the journalistic activity of publicizing’, how is the act of publicizing itself influenced by the bilingual and variegated nature of news fields as we see in India?1 What market-led and inter-organizational dynamics lie behind this activity of publicizing? How do these news processes, intentionally or inadvertently, bring a larger cross-section of the city population into media visibility? What visions of the city do they carry? Using the particular dynamics between VK, BM and the TOI as a lens onto the larger bilingual news field, I show, in this chapter, how the very structures and processes of commercial news production, translated by a community of journalists with their subjective understanding of news rules, systematically exposed, publicized and strove to legitimize diverse publics distinct from the upbeat imagination of the ‘global-urban’ middle class. Rather than reiterating the notion of an essential difference between ‘elite’ English newspapers and ‘subaltern’ regional-language newspapers that are ‘hermetically sealed off’ from one another, I  argue that the differences are commercially and relationally driven in the common field of news production.2 It is, to use Bourdieu’s analytic, a relationally driven field of subfields.3

Relational dynamics of news production

I extend my inquiry into the bilingual field of news production in Bangalore by drawing on Arvind Rajagopal’s pioneering work on the bilingual news field in Northern India, and other important anthropological studies by Mark Allen Peterson, Ursula Rao and Per Stahlberg on the Hindi press, and sociological accounts of the regional-language media by Robin Jeffrey.4 These scholars note that the Hindi media, or

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the more generic ‘vernacular media’ or ‘regional language press’, operate with conceptions of news and reading publics that are different from the English-language media. Using the heuristic of ‘split public,’ Rajagopal argues that the distinct news practices and narrative forms of the English and Hindi press shaped, among other factors, a polarized discourse that was strategically put to service for the right-wing Hindutva movement by the Sangh Parivar, the ‘family’ of right-wing Hindu organizations, in the early 1990s. The key differences between English and Hindi news practices, he argues, relate to news values of objectivity, neutrality and notions of truth, in that the Hindi dailies’ ambiguity on the objectivity norm opened up narrative spaces for the Hindutva symbols to articulate their political project in the print media. The differences in the news values emerged from the ideological effects of ‘objectivity’ that confirmed and advanced ‘English readers’ privileged access to power. Even tactically, the English-language papers had to fashion ‘a certain distance from the indigenous culture’ to assert its authority,5 taking advantage of the English language’s ‘sanctioned ignorance’ on local knowledge, idioms and cultural logic.6 The Hindi news audiences, on the other hand, had ‘a more fraught and contested relation to power’, shaping a heterogeneous, messy and ‘society-centric’ approach to news in the Hindi dailies. Rajagopal traces these differences to the anti-colonial legacy of the language press, which stood in contrast to the privileged status of English as the language of colonial rule and, in the later years, the language of the postcolonial state authority and corporate power. In a sense, the two news worlds were epistemically disjunct, so that, as Rajagopal elaborates, ‘the salient question is of the terms of translation between them, in the reproduction of a structured set of misunderstandings’.7 The significance of the bilingual structure of the news media and its polarizing effects, as the split public thesis rightly points out, did not disappear in the globalization years. As we saw, this was reflected in the structures of sociality in the shared newsroom of VK–BM, so much so that the open layout archipelago of the large newsroom represented just the inverse of how journalists imagined and reinforced barriers between them. However, I depart from Rajagopal’s thesis of ‘split public’ based on the differences in the news values between English- and regional-language media, and instead argue for a more relational mode of analysis in a common field of news production. This departure is prompted by the particular history of the regional news field in Bangalore as well as more recent transformations of the news industry across the country. Formal print news media in princely Mysore arose with the simultaneous growth of print news in English and Kannada, practiced as such by a small group of elite bilingual intelligentsia who were as staunchly

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modern in their vocabulary of objectivity and neutrality as the liberal philosophers of the West they idealized. These journalists and scholars could write well both in English and Kannada and published English and Kannada articles in the same newspaper, or jointly held English and Kannada newspapers. For instance, M. Venkatakrishniah, a leading journalist in princely Mysore started Vrittanta Cintaman￴i (1885), Sampadabhyudaya (1912) and Sadhvi (1912) in Kannada; and also Mysore Herald (1886), Wealth of Mysore (1912) and Nature Cure (1912) in English. D.V. Gundappa, another prominent bilingual intellectual, started Bharati (1907) and Artha Sadhaka Patrika (Paper for Economic Progress, 1915) in Kannada and The Karnataka (1912) in English. The bilingual intelligentsia echoed the modernization efforts of the princely Mysore state and shared the conceptual grid of modernity with the elite princely bureaucracy.8 Furthermore, the non-Brahmin movement in princely Mysore at the turn of the twentieth century raised its symbolic capital by publishing in both English and Kannada, at times in the same edition of the paper, to petition the royalty for job reservation in the state bureaucracy. This movement, which I  will discuss in greater detail in Chapter 5, was led by intermediary caste groups that came together to challenge Brahmin dominance in the princely bureaucracy. Journalists advocating the interests of Brahmins and those advancing the cause of ‘anti-Brahmins’ published in both Kannada and English to influence the princely bureaucracy as well as gather support among allied caste groups. A distinct form of ‘print communalism’ arose during this period, which, among other things, subsumed language politics within the larger movement for greater representation of allied castes in bureaucratic positions. Although English was still the language of authority, the caste movement appropriated it in such a way that a clear hierarchical divide between English and Kannada was no longer tenable. Caste, indeed, had challenged the nexus between modernity, colonial/princely authority and English. Although bilingual publication was primarily aimed at addressing the issue of ‘communal’ (allied castes) representation, this practice nevertheless had an ‘equalizing’ effect on the newspaper community, restricted as it was to the elite sections of the caste groups.9 The heuristic of ‘split public’ based on the news value of objectivity becomes even more strained against recent shifts in the news field, which prompted the print media across the language divide to adopt a more flexible, expedient and strategic approach to ‘objectivity’. The hypercompetitive news field of the post-1990s India was characterized by a combination of ‘multiple objectivities’, strategically apportioned to different beats within the same paper, rather than differentiated along the English and regional-language divide. Thus, if TOI-style new-age

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English-language newspapers rigorously pursued ‘objectivity’ in the political beat (party politics) with their interpretation of new management guidelines as a priori suspicion of the political class and the assumption that these political stories can gain credence only with confirmation by ‘authentic sources’ such as formal organs and executives of a political party, the norms of objectivity were more relaxed for the business beat and civic issues, often with a latent intent to trigger hype and speculation. Indeed, as I described in the previous chapter, new forms of city news such as campaigns and ‘citizen agendas’ did not carry the burden of objectivity at all. Also, celebrity journalism, which relied on gossip and ‘newsy’ articles, appealed to the audiences by not only willfully abandoning objectivity, but offering this denial as a key element of intimate address. Some journalists working in the newly launched English-language newspapers in the city claimed that the shift had already occurred from the phase of objective journalism to that of ‘experiential journalism’  – often a weak clone of the ‘new journalism’ movement started in the United States in the 1970s. In these new forms, journalistic subjectivity – not objectivity – was explicitly embedded in the narrative of a story. Journalistic subjectivity was fashioned as youthful adventure, curiosity and a first-hand encounter with a city like Bangalore, characterized somewhat idiosyncratically by the BM reporter dressing up as a beggar for a story (see previous chapter). The shift was also characterized by what could be called ‘staggered objectivity’ in which sources were cited at spaced intervals to alert and provoke other sources or ‘stakeholders’ in the story so that they were compelled to respond in the subsequent follow-up stories. Thus, the story would unfold over several newspaper issues. During one of our long conversations, Anil Nair, a senior editorial member of BM, elaborated insightfully: They [reporters] should explore an angle and do a good job of it. Just for the sake of objectivity, they are not required to access different sources or points of view. They are not under the compulsion to introduce an element or an angle to give a false balance. We don’t need to pretend that we are naturally objective. It is like crashing it to a wall. It is to provoke people, not in the crude sense, but to do stories in a way that it elicits response … The point is to explore one angle exhaustively and see how the responses come by.

This was partly reflective of the expanding field of television news in English and regional languages, where objectivity had been radically transformed to provoke a response, in ways that this could create and sustain a series of news bulletins at spaced intervals, each promising a drama on its own. For the Times group, crashing it to the wall, as it were, had clear destinations and patterns. TOI-style English-language

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papers espoused a distinct vocabulary of suspicion and anguish against the political class and state actors in general, and embraced market actors and middle-class civil society as more authentic news subjects. The state-centric news value, and the ‘distance and reserve customary in the English language press’, as Rajagopal describes, no longer characterized a section of the English-language news field, just as Kannada newspapers in the region shared a long history of objectivity norms along with their English peers.10 The distance between English and Kannada news media became increasingly defined by the social conditions of the linguistic groups and the particular social functions taken on by the languages, rather than by differences in news values such as objectivity. More important, the English/Kannada binary, as I  use it here, is not the final word in an ontological sense, which could be argued to underlie Rajagopal’s ‘split public’ thesis. Rather, its efficacy lies in its epistemological and performative functions – the ways in which the binary as a mode of knowing and experiencing the city shape journalistic practice such that the discourses of global-modern Bangalore are constantly brought to negotiation in divergent forms.11 This is different from arguing that the English and regional-language news worlds had different epistemic norms to understand and practice news. The point here is about the epistemological effects of the binary itself. As mentioned in the Introduction, this is similar to Timothy Mitchell’s analytic that posits the effects and processes of the state/society distinction as a political act:  ‘the distinction must be taken not as the boundary between two discrete entities, but as a line drawn internally within the network of institutional mechanisms through which a social and political order is maintained’, and, if we may add, reframed and revived.12 In other words, the split is not as much in the news values between the English-language and Kannada media or the ‘English public’ and ‘Kannada public’ as definable and stable categories, but the manner in which the imaginations of English–Kannada binary and all the essentialisms that accompany them fuel specific news practices, as media in both the languages refer to one another in a shared social field of news, articulate intricate market segmentations, and interface a changing city. As Stahlberg convincingly proposes in the case of Hindi and English-language media:  ‘The press in English and Hindi constitute each other. They operate as contrasting images within the same social field of cultural production. Their respective positions in this field are not stable but constantly disputed and reconstituted.’13 In Bourdieu’s formulation, this refers to the relational mode of existence that is key to articulating

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a logic of difference in the field of cultural production. Bourdieu uses Saussurian insights to emphasize the relational aspect of field structures and to open up questions on how different players within the field vie for prestige, legitimacy and power. The field of cultural (media) production, according to him, is also a field of struggle for difference. On the one hand, symbolic producers struggle to impose their principles of vision and division and ‘have them recognized as legitimate categories of construction of the social world’,14 and on the other, there is a struggle for difference driven by other symbolic producers with a different set of principles of vision/division. It is this tension that provides the dynamism for the field of cultural (media) production, which is dialectically related to the larger social field with struggles for power and visibility among various class groups. Considering that the disjunctive news worlds were set in the context of capitalist ownership of the news media, one could think that ‘the institution and maintenance of disjunct yet coexisting worlds is integral to capitalist expansion’, as Kajri Jain argues.15 Without reducing the differences to the logic of capital, however, I show in this chapter how the field dynamics constitute and reproduce differences in imagining news publics, even when the newspapers were owned by the same commercial news group, as in the case of Bennett Coleman and Company Limited, which owned all the three newspapers I analyze here: the TOI, BM and VK. I extend the insights into the relational dynamics of cultural production and specify it with three analytically distinct, but overlapping practices within the news field. First is the market logic of difference played out through reader segmentations and readership surveys. Second is the set of imaginations and mental maps of readers that persist among journalists in their attempt to translate abstract management guidelines into day-to-day news operations, but crucially linked to the larger differentiated social field of audiences journalists assume to serve and represent. The third is a more direct application of field logics – the struggle for difference and dominance within the field of cultural production played out through mutual references and antagonism among various players in the news field.

Bottom-line differentiation: surveys and segments of the news market

Journalism today is so competitive that it is in the heat and dust of the marketplace. Bachi Karkaria, 2006

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As Karkaria, the Times’ senior journalist and key architect of the re-launch would attest, the explosive growth of news media in the 1990s had indeed transformed the relatively staid news market of Bangalore, as with the rest of urban India, into a ‘hot and dusty’ marketplace.16 Drawn by growing advertisement revenues and readership volumes, both national and regional players launched several new dailies in English and Kannada, as well as Bangalore city editions of many other regional-language newspapers in Tamil and Hindi. The older players and new entrants had not only to compete for the existing readerships but also to create new readership volumes to grow and survive. In fact, when VK was launched in 1998 by Vijaya Sankeshwara, the circulation for the paper grew dramatically without nipping at the heels of other papers or eating much into the volumes of the then highest circulated Kannada daily, Prajavani. VK had ‘created’ a new readership in Karnataka, just as the overall circulation and readership volumes of newspapers had grown considerably in the city alongside private news broadcasting since 1995, despite annual and biannual fluctuations.17 Recognizing the potential of the growing advertising market, media companies such as the Times group instituted advertisement-led revenue models and focused its resources on generating appropriate ‘consumer response’ to a range of advertisers. Although in the later years it made efforts to tap into subscription revenues through special weekend issues such as Crest, which were priced higher than the main paper, advertisement revenue still constituted a major source of revenue. Within the Times group, advertisement earnings contributed close to 90  percent of revenues for the TOI and 75 percent for VK in 2008. This reflected a broader trend when advertisement revenue share for newspapers in India went up from over 50 percent in the 1970s and 1980s to more than 90 percent since 1990.18 Enhanced competition and growing dependence on advertisement revenue led to at least two news practices that were markedly different from the earlier era. First, the papers now needed to connect with and know their readers better. This knowledge was needed not only in terms of what the readers wished to read in the newspapers, but also information on what they earned, owned and were likely to own. These trends conformed to similar practices in the United States and other commercially driven news fields, and a boom in the business of data analytics for marketing.19 Journalists across the field in Bangalore admitted that there was a ‘huge premium’ on reaching out to the readers and knowing their preferences, often drawing aphorisms from the broader commodity market that hailed customers as the ‘king’. Second, the readership itself had to be more clearly segmented in order to attract and retain a specific range of advertisers. None of these requirements was as pertinent to the

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field of journalism as it turned out in the 1990s. Predictably, the news field was restless in its attempts to overcome the limitations of intuitive knowledge of their journalists. It thus sponsored elaborate readership surveys that promised to rationalize the field’s knowledge of its audiences. The news field was not alone in this exercise of ‘rationalizing’ knowledge around a ‘modern consumer’. The growing dependence on readership surveys mirrored similar efforts in the public policy machinery and trade bodies. As Radhika Parameswaran argues, these surveys tried to affix the ‘unruly Indian middle class into the modern subjective space of the consumer’ in the early 1990s through much publicized surveys carried out, for instance, by the National Council on Applied Economic Research and the Confederation of Indian Industry.20 Within the Times group, several surveys and contact initiatives at the national and local level were sponsored to create ‘knowledge’ on readers. These organizational measures began with the premise of basic class differences between English- and Kannada-speaking readers revealed by general readership surveys serving the broader news industry. The Indian Readership Survey (IRS) 2006 Round 2, for example, showed that the number of Kannada readers earning below the monthly household income (MHI) of 10,000 rupees (200 USD) was twice as large as that of English newspaper readers. The number of English newspaper readers earning above the monthly household income of 10,000 rupees was close to double that of Kannada readers (Figures  3.1 and 3.2). The highest number of Kannada newspaper readers belonged to the MHI group of 3,000 to 4,000 rupees (60–80 USD), while the majority of English newspaper readers belonged to the MHI group of 10,000 rupees (Figures 3.1 and 3.2). By 2008, the difference in the volume of readers between English-language and Kannada newspapers above an MHI of 10,000 rupees had shrunk, but the Kannada newspapers still had their largest number of readers coming from MHI groups below 10,000 rupees. Large surveys such as the IRS threw up other important insights for the news organizations. They showed a poor overlap between Kannada and English-language newspaper readership, which was as low as 15 percent in 2008 (IRS R2).21 Although this meager overlap was conditioned by single paper subscription among a large section of readers to save costs,22 the apparent language divide in the readership reinforced the assumption among news actors that English and Kannada news readers were different in their class background as well as what they wished to read in the newspapers.

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Backed by market data on newspaper consumption and broad class differences between English and Kannada newspaper readers suggested by surveys, the Times group instituted several measures to understand the readers, keeping the linguistically aligned reader (class) groups as a starting point. In the years immediately preceding the re-launch and in the following years, the circulation department sent its sales persons to get ‘quick feedback’ on what the readers wished to read in the paper through short questionnaires. A large team of 150 ‘part-time salesmen’ visited the residences of readers in the early morning to get ‘a quick capsule to capture the reader profile’. Marketing executives explained to me that these were not designed to ‘critically evaluate reader preferences’ but were instead used as a vehicle to gain entry into the households to sell subscription packages. Hence, as I point out in Chapter 1, initial surveys by the paper did not decisively shape the national level changes instituted by the paper across its regional bureaus to ‘serve’ the ‘emerging’ new middle class. Much management fashioning was at work. However, owing to greater market pressure in the later years, the management wanted all its departments to focus their resources on gaining a clear understanding of the readers and suggest measures to attract and retain them. Journalists opened up direct channels of communication with the desired readers through emails, letters, telephone calls and other contact programs, which were much more rigorous and intentional than the long-established convention of ‘letters to the editor’. At the same time, the Times management subscribed to expensive readership surveys to generate more ‘reliable sources’ of reader information. These nationwide surveys, aimed at capturing the ‘demographics and psychographics’ of various newspapers, became a potent tool for the papers to rationalize their efforts at understanding the readers, much in line with the ratings frenzy of the television sector. The Times group, as with many other commercial news groups of the liberalized Indian media field, supplemented general readership surveys with customized market research surveys to gather specific inputs on the most effective and desirable mix of content for each paper under the group. For example, customized surveys showed that BM had to pay more attention to local cinema and sports culture for expanding its readership among the city youth. A senior editorial member of BM had little doubt about the merits of survey rationality: Some research shows BM is not doing enough sting operations. It should play down civic agency stories by 40 per cent. The survey shows that the readers want more coverage of local sports, on the Bollywood pages they want more Kannadiga [native Kannada speaker] talent to capture the youngsters.

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Similar content corrections were suggested for other papers of the Times group by expensive customized reader surveys. The editorial and branding team had to match the context mix of the paper with these survey ‘findings’, introducing changes in the editorial content at regular intervals. Understanding the readers went hand in hand with segmenting them. On the one hand, news companies’ efforts to fashion a profitable consumer base for the advertisers led to a rush toward appeasing the same class segment with an average MHI of 10,000 rupees (200 USD) and above. This rush to chase, target and cultivate profitable reader groups was especially pronounced among the mainstream English-language newspapers. In one of the interviews, the editor of a prominent English-language daily expressed this dramatically: ‘Have you seen Mad Mad,World [Hollywood movie]? It is like that! Whether it is Indian Express, DNA or Times of India, we all are after the same treasure. We all are trying to get the same readers! Everyone is knocking the same door!’ In the hunt for the treasure, marketing executives knew well that this was not always the same door after all: there were different doors to knock on, or at least different ways to knock on the door. Market segmentations entailed management efforts to internally segment their ‘product range’ to tap into a variety of advertisers. This implied a more systematic effort to recognize and generate differences between various news products offered by the same business group so that various ‘brands’ of the group corresponded with different consumer categories targeted by the advertisers. Customized market surveys instituted by the Times group through market research agencies such as the Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) drew out representative samples within the target reader groups and employed various research methods such as focus group discussions, immersions and dipstick studies to assess the ‘health’ and ‘visibility’ of the brand. This implied that the reader groups were already earmarked based on the desired income levels, product ownership and spending habits, which deepened the translation of class groups as reader groups. These chosen reader segments were later mapped onto different ‘newspaper products’ of the company such that advertisers could more judiciously pick their choice of newspaper for the products and services they aimed to sell. Even large surveys such as IRS provided elaborate tables that drew correspondences between product consumption and newspaper subscription. As the generic data on circulation generated by the Audit Bureau of Circulation since 1960 could not provide detailed market information on reader groups, news organizations began to rely more on cross-tabulated

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narratives of income, product consumption, reading and spending habits of the readers churned out by large sample studies such as the IRS and the National Readership Survey (NRS) to convince the media buyers. IRS data, for example, segmented the readers based on socio-economic group, gender, age group, education, occupation, travel within India/ abroad and media consumption (time spent watching television, listening to radio, reading newspapers and on the Internet).23 These tables also provided details on the ownership of electronic and other consumer durables – TV, DVD, refrigerator, air-conditioner, two-wheeler, automobile (car and others), computer, digital camera, ready-made shirts and ready-made trousers  – among reader groups for all major newspapers and magazines in large and mid-sized cities. Executives of the subscribing news companies would crunch the numbers, cross-tabulate them and gain ‘market intelligence’ to know which reader groups were buying what product. They could also estimate if the desired reader groups still read their paper or had succumbed to the enticements of TV and the Internet, and if so, by what measure and so on. For media buyers, it was possible through the IRS tables to check, for example, what percentage of VK readers owned a refrigerator and what potential it had as a market for refrigerator manufacturers. Like many other sectors, the news media had emerged as a valuable window into consumption metrics for product manufacturers, and yet another proxy for consumption index. News companies, on their part, shuffled and reshuffled their product mix to target, segment and serve ‘monetizable’ audiences. This logic of bottom-line differentiation was true for intra-organizational difference within a single news group as well as between various news companies in the news market. Large mainstream news groups vying for advertisement revenue relied on general readership surveys and customized market surveys to draw up profitable market segments. For instance, a leading market research company ‘cautioned’ Deccan Herald, an older English-language newspaper in the city, against its image of a ‘traditional and outdated paper’. The survey specifically highlighted what it claimed as a widespread (negative) perception among the readers and media planners about the paper that it gave a feeling of ‘reading a Kannada paper in English’. The market research company advised the news group to make concerted efforts to correct and undo this impression. The initial point of difference between the English-language and Kannada print news media in terms of readership volume and income, was thus hardened through such market surveys, which claimed to offer ‘scientific analysis’ of audience perceptions and brand receptivity. Keeping the initial heuristic of English/Kannada difference intact, the surveys further segmented the English and Kannada markets to help

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various newspapers to ‘position’ themselves in clearly spelt-out brand spaces. A  leading market research company, for instance, suggested a ‘middle position’ for its client newspaper Deccan Herald within what it described as the ‘bipolar’ English-language news field in the city occupied on the extreme ends by the TOI and The Hindu. According to the agency, the TOI was seen as a ‘light read’ and ‘lifestyle enhancing paper’ while The Hindu was on the opposite end of the spectrum with an image of a serious paper that was difficult to read. The client company, therefore, had ideally to position itself in the middle of the two poles and combine ‘serious information’ with light-hearted entertainment so that the readers would be attracted to its serious information and at the same time ‘pleasantly surprised’ to find the lifestyle section. The agency claimed that this strategy would help the paper to attract young readers without losing its core brand value of being one of the oldest papers in the region. Interestingly, these customized market research surveys sponsored by various news groups were consistent in claiming that a ‘new world’ had emerged after the 1990s and that the readers were forced to cope with it in various ways. This consistency often resulted from the fact that a very small number of market research agencies consulted for more than one major newspaper in the city. In much the same vein, these surveys highlighted other sections of the city in relation to this master discourse on new India and marked these sections as appropriate audiences for the English-language papers other than the TOI. One such survey claimed that not all residents of the city embraced this ‘new world’ with an open heart. A section of the city, which the survey recognized as women residents in the age group 18–24, had ‘lost their comfort zone and felt alienated in their own land’. The agency urged their client news group, which had a longer presence in Karnataka, to address this growing sentiment. Through such efforts to mark and slot the readers for the client news companies, market research surveys objectified differences between reader groups both within the same language market and between English and Kannada, offering them as ‘putatively expert knowledge’.24 As Todd Gitlin brilliantly analyzes prime time television in the United States as early as the 1980s, commercial newspapers in post-reform India felt the pressure to adopt seemingly ‘systematic, impersonal and reliable ways’ of mapping the readers in order to ‘institutionalize their quest’ to comprehend them.25 At times, news actors (including circulation and advertising executives) were themselves wary about the technical jargon of the market research companies and fine segmentations based on multiple criteria of wealth and spending drawn up by the surveys. During many conversations, they admitted that these reader segmentations were needed to impress media buyers and advertisers, so that the buyers felt

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assured that they were investing in the most appropriate media vehicle. Perhaps media buyers too shared their cynicism. But the promise of ‘scientific’ knowledge about readers had acquired an efficacy of its own. For the management this was an effective tool to offer evidence of an appropriate reader base. To maximize profits through the market logic of segmentation, the Times group fashioned a difference within its ‘product range’ – TOI, BM, VK and Times of India Kannada (the Kannada version of the TOI)  – and gave them distinct brand identities. This brand fashioning derived its content from the recent history of VK’s rapid expansion in the state, the national focus on urban audience spelt out for the TOI, top-down management initiatives to tap and shape a ‘racy, young readership’ for BM and cultivate a global-modern Kannada public for TOI Kannada.26 Of the acquired papers, VK had already established itself as the most widely circulated Kannada daily in the state with a pan-Karnataka presence. Even before the Times acquisition in 2006, Vijaya Sankeshwar, the founder-owner and businessman-politician, had followed the Eenadu model of regional media tycoon, Ramoji Rao, in the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh, to arrange to print the paper from nine local centers across the state. This strategy had helped the paper to localize its content for the district editions as well as distribute the copies early in the morning to the subscribing households. The management had put the logistics of Sankeshwara’s truck transport company to optimal use to distribute the paper to every corner of the state and increase circulation volumes. Together with other tactics such as price cuts and colorful advertisement campaigns on hoardings and television, the efficient trucking system expanded VK’s popularity, even as it tapped into and fueled right-wing Hindutva sentiments across the state. The Times group decided to use the ‘pan-Karnataka’ presence of the paper as a key element of its brand identity, and marked its audiences as ‘mass readers’. For other ‘products’ of the news group, there was an equally clear brand policy. A senior management executive expressively summarized its position: Times of India is a statesman. It respects people, culture, ethos, the state, government, the bureaucrats. We say things in a particularly diplomatic manner. Bangalore Mirror is the brat of the group – irreverent, screw you, I will take on anybody, I will take on the Governor if he has given some land to XYZ, I will take up stings. Because, I am not targeting Times of India readers. I am targeting the age group of 19 to 25. In other words, we are looking at different segments of readers. [Moving his hands down in the air] I then want to go down to the middle level in terms of age-groups and psychographics. I want to capture that target also. Then I want to look at the vernacular market – the Times of India Kannada targeting upwardly mobile Kannadiga market. Then I want to look at the political market

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because that’s what the vernacular ethos is all about – an overdose of politics, very little content except politics. And there is some religion, spiritualism and corruption. In other words, I want to present in all these markets and slots. I don’t want to leave any slot vacant because someone else will come and occupy it.

To occupy every slot, the paper needed flexibility but it was also accompanied by ambiguity and confusion. The management’s internal differentiation of readership did not imply that they were stable categories. Senior editorial members admitted that there were serious differences between the departments (editorial, brand, advertisement and circulation) on ways to draw the profiles of purportedly distinct reader groups and match them with the company’s various titles. The consensus about the respective reader groups was at best temporary. The management did not indeed lock them as stable and settled categories, since the papers had to constantly transform based on what the readership surveys and circulation patterns revealed at regular intervals. These flexible market segmentations and aggressive circulation tactics seemed to yield results for the company. Vijayanand Publishers Limited (VPL), which was a ‘very sick company’ before acquisition, had started to generate profits, and the TOI continued its ‘winning streak’. The differences between the English-language and Kannada papers of the Times group were reflected again by a related difference in the profile of advertisers. If the IT and real estate sectors contributed a major share of advertisement revenue for the TOI, they constituted less than 3 percent for VK. Consumer electronics and automobile sectors were the major advertisers for VK. After the first point of division between ‘mass’ readers of Kannada papers and ‘class’ readers of English-language newspapers, the Times group strategized to enhance its profits by further segmenting the Kannada readership and targeting the small but affluent group of bilingual readers who were assumed to have different motivations to read Kannada papers vis-à-vis the ‘mass Kannada readers’. For the circulation executives, this implied boosting the higher end of the reader income groups for Kannada titles after firmly establishing a broad base of readers across all income groups. As circulation executive of VK confidently described, the paper had ‘a huge base which is sufficient enough to have the foot right on the ground and move the higher numbers to A, B and A plus (IRS) readers’. A senior editorial member at the VK called these elite Kannada readers as ‘buddhijīvigalu’ (erudite) with a passion for language, land and culture. The Times group decided to cater to this segment by introducing erudite commentaries on Kannada literature, culture and science – a move that was significant in opening up spaces for alternative, if not always progressive, discourses about the city:27

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This section could be described as buddhijīvigalu [erudite], urban readers or pragnavanta varga [enlightened class]. They include professors, doctors, lawyers and such other professional groups. They subscribe to both English and Kannada papers. They are the elite class of readers. Their mother tongue would be Kannada but they would know English very well. We cater to this section by paying extra attention to our headlines, layout, and by publishing mature, thought provoking articles in the supplements. We also have the editorial and oped pages for them.

Market maps of differences between ‘mass Kannada readers’, ‘buddhijīvi Kannadiga’ and English readers soon consolidated as ‘basic knowledge’ of the news field that no player could ignore. On the one hand, journalists working for the older publications in the region – Deccan Herald (English) and Prajavani (Kannada)  – came under growing management pressure to be up-to-date about the changes in the city. They uniformly rehearsed the discourse of the upwardly mobile and changing Bangalorean, responding to the management’s attempt to rescue both its brands from the image of a ‘heavily Kannadized and outdated’ paper. For the executives at the Times group, on the other hand, internal segmentation seemed to yield more lucrative results. The presumed differences between English-language and Kannada news publics were further reinforced when the ambitious project of the Times group to extend its ‘global modernity’ into the regional-language domain via the Times of India Kannada failed within the first three years of its inception. With his characteristic trenchancy, a senior Times executive who saw himself as a shrewd strategist who could do wonders in any language news market, described this experiment to me in vivid detail. With no knowledge of Kannada, the executive used the help of translators to keep a watch on ‘what was going on in the Kannada papers’ of the Times group. This lack of knowledge did not deter him; he remained quite confident about how he would transform the entire range of the news market for his employer in the region. He said that the Kannada translated version of the TOI represented its effort to ‘modernize’ the ‘cess pool of politics, religion, casteism and fanatic culture’ that characterized conventional Kannada news media. It was an effort to initiate the Kannada youth into what ‘existed beyond’ the boundaries of their narrow ‘local ethos’.28 TOIK had more than eighty per cent of its content translated from the English version and the page layouts too had little variation from the English title. The management made little effort to hide the fact of translation and instead planned to capitalize on the brand image of their flagship product by naming it Times of India Kannada (TOIK). TOIK, launched in 2007, targeted young readers with colloquial ‘Kinglish’ (teenage Kannada lingo with liberal garnishing of simple English) and flaunted

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a stylized ‘cool attitude’. An advertisement for the paper exhorted the youth to sever their links with old habits and robustly claim their generational difference. A young male model sporting large sunglasses, jeans and T-shirt appealed to the youth with his casual swagger:  ‘appana jote tur u; appana jote cinema; allo appana newspaper be‫ﷳ‬ka?Yella new Guru’ (‘touring with father; cinema with father; hey buddy, do you want father’s newspaper too? Everything is new Guru’). The strategists in the news group believed that the new generation of Kannadigas was restless to break the ‘shackles of tradition’ and ready to embrace the new content offered by TOIK and its ‘global outlook’. The senior strategist sounded anxious when he spelt out the agenda for TOIK: ‘He [the reader] gets less of the Devegowda [politician] and the rubbish that is going on in Karnataka. He gets less of it. It is targeted to the young, global, out-looking [sic] and with an outlook that is beyond Karnataka. It is for the forward-looking young Kannadiga.’ Despite aggressive publicity, circulation tactics and confident plans of the strategists, the paper failed to generate profit even two years after its launch. The paper could not generate advertisement revenue on its own, leading to its formal closure in 2010. Rather than interpreting the failure of TOIK as an indication of obstinate Kannada news publics refusing to take the Times formula of cosmopolitan modernity and hyperconsumerism, I  suggest that the various class groups in the city clustered their articulations of difference from the discourse of the new middle class around the symbol of Kannada, especially when the discourse took on the garb of ‘global modernity’.29 I elaborate this point in the next chapter, but as for the market logic of difference, the collapse of TOIK was discouraging enough for the Times group to rethink their effort to transform ‘ordinary Kannadigas’ through narratives of global modernity. Instead of a translated paper, the group decided to target a more affluent class of readers within the Kannada readership by providing long commentaries and lifestyle stories through a combination of advertisement and subscription revenue. Consequently, the Times group converted TOIK into a Kannada translated version of the Crest edition of the TOI to tap into the Kannada-reading class groups with higher household income, and in the later years of acquisition it introduced this material increasingly within VK. Important as they were, survey-directed segmentations and market maneuvering did not fully account for the linguistic marking of the audiences. If anything, they had only objectified, through management endorsement and survey rationality, the already prevalent perceptions among journalists that differences between Kannada and English newspaper readers were real. Much of what was seen as a difference between English and Kannada reading publics related to what Jayarama Adiga, a

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senior journalist and media commentator, perceptively described as the ‘mania and phobia’ among journalists about distinct language publics. This was significant because the marketplace charted by readership surveys remained an ‘abstract and imperfect guide’ that had to be constantly filled and put into action by controlling ‘both supply and demand  – supply in order to smooth its workings, demand so that it remains of a sort the … [news organizations] … are set up to satisfy’.30 Even so, journalists’ own experiences of the city and their multifarious interactions with the audiences constantly exceeded organizational rationality to define and control the needs of the audiences. Many journalists were not aware of any reader surveys, nor did they have access to the findings. When they did have access, the incomplete and abstract portraits of readers provided by the surveys waited to be translated into practical decisions on news on a daily basis. Vishweshwara Bhat, the editor of VK, stated matter-of-factly: ‘We do not take the reader for granted. We care for their views. We also have our own ways of doing things. It is 50:50.’ The differences between English and Kannada readers and all the subdivisions thereafter thus owed as much to journalists themselves as to the market rationality of drawing out differences. As Simon Cottle rightly argues, the audiences after all are not an empirical object ‘out there’; the relationship between journalists and audiences is always discursive.31

Mapping the audiences: imaginations of journalists

The dominance of the TOI model in terms of bottom-line and celebrity journalism was evident among journalists across publications of all languages in Bangalore. This was in many ways reflective of the very form of journalism as a professional and social practice with a strong tendency to mimic and follow peers. Dominic Boyer rightly argues that acts of mimesis are pronounced in the news field since news organizations rely on their peers for ‘attentional and evaluative cues’.32 Many Kannada journalists, often grudgingly, admitted to the dominance of the TOI formula. The popularity of the Times news agenda as a successful (market) formula normalized and even distorted the TOI discourse on the new middle class, neoliberal urban governance and global modernity. Several journalists believed that the ideal recipe for news should completely abandon stories on the poor and the underprivileged, because the TOI ‘had successfully demonstrated’ that the new reader was not interested in reading them. The galloping march of the TOI on every market parameter was accompanied by several myths about its success and the journalists themselves felt pushed into a state of confusion over how to define and defend their fortes. Referring to

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the recent construction of a new international airport in Devanahalli near Bangalore, a senior journalist at a Kannada newspaper revealingly contemplated: There is a crisis in the community [of journalists]. Whether we should have airport in HAL [Hindustan Aeronautics Limited] or Devanahalli … How big a problem is this anyway? How can it become a lead [story] in English papers? Following them, how can it become a lead story in Kannada papers? It is posed as a life and death problem! We are also following it … Because we want to reach out to the readers. Otherwise you will be lost somewhere. This competition is vicitra [absurd]. It makes you lose your values and offer justifications. Readers otherwise may say they want Times of India. The situation is forcing us to take a certain direction.33

The pressure to ‘take a certain direction’ was evident in the more ‘in-the-face’ tabloidized forms of writing often delivered as ‘tajatana’ (freshness) in approach and layout, compared to the earlier Kannada papers that used circuitous and Sanskritized Kannada sentences as hallmarks of excellence and instruments of power.34 These changes were especially marked in VK and Kannada Prabha. Some news themes also traded boundaries. It was more common now, for example, to have cricket news or celebrity marriages on the front page of a Kannada newspaper. This was, the VK editor emphasized, unthinkable two decades ago. ‘We take some from English papers, they take some from us!’, he reasoned, with his trademark mordancy. Equally important in this mutual exchange was the common trope of ‘change’ that entrenched the narratives about readers. To confirm that the Kannada readers had also changed, a senior editorial member at VK pointedly drew the gastronomic example of Gobi Manchoorian (spicy snack of East Asian roots prepared with cauliflower), which was never a part of conventional Kannada cuisine two decades ago but is now widely relished across the length and breadth of the region, spanning high-end boutique restaurants to street-side food vendors. The Kannada press could, therefore, no longer remain like ‘a devout and loyal wife of the old times’ (halekalada pativrate), as Dr Purnima, the editor of a large Kannada daily, piquantly remarked. The rapid spread of corporate retail and shopping malls in the mofussil towns signified changes, just as the rising popularity of television media and FM radio channels with their colloquial hybrid forms of Kinglish (Kannada/English) commentaries prompted Kannada journalists to share the belief that reader expectations really were shifting. In VK, the changes in the news content and layout became even more prominent in the later years of acquisition, around 2010, when the daily city supplement was renamed Lovelavike, which replaced the earlier title of Bengaluru Vijaya. The change in the name was designed to resonate with youth jargon, after combining the

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English word ‘love’ with the Kannada word ‘lavalavike’ (enthusiasm). Page 3 photographs and sponsored articles on fashion, cinema and promotional events by consumer product companies and shopping malls began to make their appearance in the supplement. Editorial staff members of VK admitted that they were under pressure from the advertising and branding departments to include these themes with flashy images of Page 3 celebrities. Alongside the stylistic shifts, a greater influence of English-language papers and television media was the growing focus on urban news. There was an increase in the volume and importance of Bangalore city news across all editions of Kannada papers, just when village- and town-level news expanded in the district editions.35 A  senior Kannada journalist noted that Kannada papers began to ‘talk about life, culture, education, living, infrastructure and corruption’  – the typical middle-class urban concerns of post-1990s India in the frames of a large section of the English-language news media. This was not merely an act of mimesis, even less a forced one. Reflecting the massive urbanization across the country, the city of Bangalore had expanded phenomenally in these decades, both in population and administrative sweep, after the regional government formed Bruhat Bengalur u Mahanagara Palike (Greater Bangalore Municipal Corporation) in 2007 by merging older city areas with the adjoining city municipal councils and villages into a single administrative unit. Following these administrative changes, the number of regional election (assembly) constituencies from Bangalore had doubled from 12 to 24, prompting even the more ‘orthodox’ political reporters of the Kannada newspapers to admit that the city had gained more importance for journalists and the political class. At the same time, the structures and resources of news-gathering continued to be common for different language reporters who made the same customary visits to various public services agencies and bureaucratic divisions: Bangalore City Corporation, Bangalore Development Authority, Bangalore Sewage and Water Supply Board, Bangalore Electric Supply Corporation, Police Department, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, Horticulture Department, Education Department and Vidhana Soudha. There was little difference between Kannada and ‘English journalists’ in their professionally groomed practice to rely on bureaucratic sources for state information as well as for the necessary stamp of authenticity for their news stories, which would remain ‘unconfirmed’, unreliable or simply false without the confirmatory quotes of the bureaucrats.36 Irrespective of the language, size or genre, the world continued to be ‘bureaucratically organized’ for journalists, as Mark Fishman noted as early as 1980.37

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Despite the pressure to import the dominant news recipe from the TOI, a common trope of ‘changed readers’, a common staple of news sources, and a shared focus on local urban news, or especially because of these shifts and interlinkages, a section of Kannada journalists – who were under similar pressure to delineate their readers – set out to mark their audiences with different registers. Bilingual dynamics refer to the mutual constitution of the subfields as ‘different’ precisely through these interlinkages. Barbie Zelizer notes that journalists, as ‘interpretive communities’, structure their practices not only through professional tropes of objectivity and facts, but also through ‘informal contacts among them, and the centrality of narrative and storytelling’.38 These shared discourses and collective interpretations are not limited to the ‘external’ events they cover. Shared narratives about their own community members and audiences entrench the practices of journalists, so much so that news frames reflect internal socialities of the journalistic community as much as the ‘events’ out there in the world. Although the formats of personalized news and organizational practices of reader contacts and patterned permeations made their way into Kannada newspapers, what marked the difference was the content that journalists filled into these formats. This content derived its difference primarily from two well-founded beliefs among Kannada journalists: that their readers were the ‘voting public’ interested in news on formal politics, and that their readers were distinct in the ‘rootedness of their culture’ as opposed to free-floating, promiscuous global modernity.39 In these narratives, ‘English media’ referred largely to readers of the TOI and new papers such as DNA, Midday and Deccan Chronicle that were launched after 1990, and the efforts by older English-language newspapers to mimic them. The common thread that drove these sentiments in the newspapers was the journalists’ assured sense of difference from the English-newspaper readers. In many cases, the nuances were overridden by a willful pursuit of differences – hardening, caricaturizing and stereotyping reader identities all at once. The chief reporter of VK drew the contrast: Kannada readers have different expectations. Their taste is different. English readers may include people who know Kannada or they may not know Kannada. But one distinguishing factor is that they are not interested in politics. Instead, they are interested in lifestyle and fashion. They may even worry about civic amenities. Kannada readers need politics, crime and day-to-day developments. They don’t want lifestyle, fashion, and jagamaga [glitz].

By terming the English-newspaper reader interests as jagamaga, Kannada journalists built a narrative of their readers based on the features that not only stood distinct from, but were consciously opposed to the trivia,

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excess, superfluity, gloss and vanity signaled by jagamaga. As opposed to the TOI reporters’ ready (although at times disapproving and cynical) portrait of the ‘new middle class readers’, VK journalists’ delayed responses were nevertheless consistent in delineating the figure of a Kannada reader as ‘janasamanya’ (common man – always masculine in the narratives even though jana is gender neutral). The common man, according to them, faced problems of everyday living – electric power, water, railways and buses. The Kannada common man ranged from a professor to a semi-literate rural reader. The common man came from diverse occupational background than those who visited multiplexes  – the term included government employees, self-employed petty traders, owners of small stationery stores, auto drivers, vegetable vendors, hawkers and, importantly, as journalists themselves stressed, the rural community. His interests ranged from politics and industry to agriculture, literature and dharma (religion, caste and spirituality); hence the stories in Kannada papers too had to range from ‘ISRO [Indian Space Research Organization] to poojas [ritual prayers]’. All these diverse interests converged in the figure of janasamanya, as a senior VK journalist described during one of the interviews: ‘Our reader is a common man’, he asserted. ‘Who is the common man?’, I asked him. ‘You, me and everyone. When there is power problem, I don’t give story from the industrialists’ angle. We write about power cut, railways and buses. I and you may commute in a car. But we will surely have a wife, a daughter or a mother who travels in buses! We also write stories that reach out to farmers. When there is a decision on government employees, we take it on page one. People living in villages and lower class people read our papers. English newspapers cater to the upper class.’

The class dimension of the readers thus remained a crucial frame for understanding the janasamanya. Many journalists in VK and other Kannada dailies believed that they had a moral obligation to give a voice to those sections of the city population, issues and localities ‘mercilessly’ abandoned by the English-language dailies. Thus, Kannada journalists drew out their own reader geographies within the city: if English-language papers worried about Cantonment areas and the newly affluent localities of Koramangala and HSR Layout that had a large high-tech migrant population, Kannada journalists believed that they catered to the readers in the older areas of Kalasipalya, Basavanagudi and Chamarajpet with significant number of lower-middle-class groups, petty traders, daily laborers and recent rural migrants from different parts of Karnataka. This imagination continued despite English-language newspapers’ considerable reach in these areas. Many Kannada journalists pointed out that they filed more stories than their English peers on the peripheral

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towns and villages newly annexed to the greater metropolitan area of Bangalore, and wrote on problems of water supply, drains and roads in these neglected areas. They passionately invoked the rural masses and urban middle class as their readers, often as a vengeful contrast to English-language dailies’ focus on ‘upmarket readers’: When there are stories about Chikangunya [a form of viral fever], hooch tragedy or Kannada medium schools, we should take them as leads. English papers won’t do it. If a huduga-hudugi [boy and girl] dance in a five star hotel, it is not news for me. They [English dailies] write about Bowring Institute and Windsor Manor. But our readers ask for basic infrastructure, bus, drains and street lights.40

These journalists believed that basic infrastructure included water, government welfare schemes and public health centers  – a frame much broader than the TOI’s emphasis on good roads, street lights and garbage collection in big cities. Barring a handful of senior editorial members who were privy to the management’s efforts to tap affluent Kannada readers, journalists at VK and other Kannada dailies believed firmly that their readers belonged to the lower income groups and held a range of occupations, alongside litterateurs and politicians whose constituencies ‘overlapped’ significantly with those of Kannada papers.41 Crucially, what bound them all together, in the eyes of the journalists, was their common interest in ‘political news’. Just as the new middle-class reader was assumed to be least inclined to read news on formal politics and politicians, the ‘common Kannada reader’ shared a common interest for stories on politicians, party politics and the day-to-day running of the government, despite occupational diversity. Unlike the TOI reporters who vouched by surveys and management guidelines, Kannada journalists put their ‘wisdom’ and ‘feel’  – ‘their personal quality gained from experience and grafted onto the principles and practices of the profession’42  – as a superior form of knowledge to assert that their readers were interested in political stories, first and foremost. Journalists pointed to poor voter turnout among the educated middle class in the cities as clinching evidence to justify this framing. Vasant Nadiger, a seasoned journalist in the Kannada field, was one of the earliest employees at VK. He had shifted to the newly launched paper after serving at Kannada Prabha for many years. His wife was a lecturer in mathematics at a local college and held a ‘more stable’ job, as Nadiger once described. Nadiger himself was risk-averse in his career, having served long years both at Kannada Prabha and VK. Even this single job shift entailed little change in his job profile. He was adept at sifting the news feed, managing the news flow from different district centers, deciding on the day’s lead stories and adorning them with witty

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headlines filled with puns. Through his years of experience in Kannada dailies, his assumptions about Kannada readers had only grown firmer: People who are too educated and rich don’t vote. Politics bisi tattodu ruralge [It is the rural area that suffers the heat of politics]. A few people who know Kannada might have changed their culture and society. Those people do not read Kannada papers. They read English papers. Our readers are those who vote. It is said that politics, sex and cinema sells. We give politics and cinema. And so far, no sex.

Although city editions of Kannada papers experimented with fewer stories on formal politics, political stories continued to be a key thematic focus for them. Within VK, out of 11 reporters, five were assigned exclusively to the ‘political beat’, with the chief reporter himself taking a keen interest in this beat. Only one reporter was assigned to ‘civic issues’ of the city, while there were as many as eight reporters working for the ‘metro bureau’ in the TOI with separate beats for infrastructure, power, environment and civic issues for the city. Out of 16 reporters in the TOI, four reporters handled formal politics along with government news and policy stories. Often, Kannada journalists’ emphasis on ‘political news’ drew its greatest strength from the contrasting pole of market, consumerism, Bollywood and high-tech industries in the city – all viewed as symptoms of the same ethos, often derisively summed up as English ‘cosmopolitanism’. Consistent with this value reversal between the pole of market and politics, Kannada journalists refused the familiar icons drawn from the new economy dotting the English-language news stories. Instead, these journalists insisted on having politicians as their key news stars, even when they did not consider them as role models for their readers. Shreesha, a seasoned journalist at VK, pointedly described the different ‘tastes’ of English and Kannada news publics: They [English readers] have a corporate base. They want statements from Narayana Murthy and Premji [IT captains]. Our base is Siddaramiah and Devegowda [political leaders]. Consumerism’s influence is less on our readers. Political influence is more. Our readers are not interested in Shahrukh Khan or pizza and refrigerator offers. Siddaramiah is our market. Devegowda’s statements are our news.

Shreesha was one of the oldest members in the VK reporting team. His slack khadi shirt, faded sandals and a small notepad hanging from the pocket evoked the stereotype of an old-fashioned journalist. He was known among his colleagues as a sincere man, but one who had too much to say about journalism because he had seen the field ‘far too long’. Many Kannada journalists I met in the field drew a list similar to Shreesha's in marking the differences between English and Kannada readers. In translating the market mechanics of differentiation, journalists thus did not blindly reproduce the differences but refracted them

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through their own understanding of the city and its publics. Sometimes, these narratives contrasted marketing efforts to capture the very audiences interested in ‘refrigerator offers’. Although the management was chasing the more affluent pockets of Kannada readership, Kannada journalists fiercely guarded their territories against the influence of affluent readers. They saw these affluent readers as English news publics interested in ‘how [Bollywood actor] Amitabh Bacchan acted in Bhootnath or who Katrina Kaif eloped with, because these readers have no problem of securing square meals a day.’ The consuming, frivolous and pampered English-newspaper reader was a personified form of the city itself – striking in its vanity, arrogance and extravagance. A popular columnist in VK castigated the city and its English-reading patrons for complaining about the water supply in Bangalore when smaller cities like Hubli received public water just once a week. It was a similar sentiment against the corporate sector and the ‘affluent city’ that drove VK journalists to write a front-page story against the proposals for privatizing the water supply for the city and outsourcing it to a Swiss company. The story ran with a provocative headline: ‘Kudiva Nīru Puraike Parades´igala Palu’ ([Alien and invading] foreigners take away drinking water supply [contracts]). Visceral contempt for English news readers among a large number of Kannada journalists thus translated into anguish about the city – a city that haunted them as unfamiliar and spoilt. This was partly reflective of the background of many Kannada journalists, who had migrated from villages and smaller towns to Bangalore for education and jobs, and were in most cases first-generation migrants from agricultural households. They saw themselves as rightful critics and cynical outsiders to this extravagant and privatizing city, represented as such by the affluent IT-BT (Information Technology and Biotechnology). The feeling of a cynical outsider did not imply that they relinquished their claims on the city. Rather, it was the inverse. The ‘sense of being a local refugee haunting the Kannadiga migrant in a city’ reinforced journalists’ marking of their English peers as ‘outsiders’ with little or no legitimate claims on the city.43 Hence, the position of a cynical outsider fed into militant forms of asserting the son-of-the-soil arguments. These journalists transposed the rural/ landed sentiments onto the urban news terrain in ways to critique it in moral-cultural terms. They saw the material extravagance of the city as a symptom of a severe cultural deficit – a result of the deterritorializing logic of the English-enabled new economy. It was then not surprising that although Kannada papers heavily depended on city news markets for their revenue and witnessed a marginal dip in rural readership in the later years of the 2000s due to aggressive market-driven strategies to boost city circulation, many Kannada journalists derided the urban form for its cultural emptiness. A senior Kannada journalist commented: ‘Urban

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thinking is anything that is not associated with the roots, anything that is not related to the land and culture. This is merely about food, living and a certain (superficial) culture of a community. Urban thinking is false thinking.’44 The ‘falseness’ of urban thinking gave way to various articulations of the city public refracted through the prism of ‘Kannada language’ and its ‘rooted culture’. I  will discuss the consequences of these sentiments and journalists’ habitus underlying them in greater detail in the next chapter. In terms of the volume of city news, however, journalists’ sense of the ‘falseness’ and vanity of the city had clear repercussions. For instance, during recessionary trends in the overall economy and a slump in the advertisement sector in 2008, journalists in VK readily implemented the management’s decision to cut down the number of pages by eliminating two pages that had been introduced recently for exclusive stories and news features on Bangalore. The extra pages for city news were the obvious choice of the journalists in implementing the management’s cut-down policy. On the other hand, senior editorial staff members strove to retain the weekly Sunday literary supplement, which was the first target of the management for ‘austerity’ measures. Such was the enthusiasm to retain this treasured weekly supplement that a special discussion meeting was convened at the Times office to discuss the fate of the Sunday supplements, with a strong intention to save them from management strictures against wasteful expenditure. The editor of the paper and the supplement editor moderated the discussion among a handful of invited guests to devise strategies to change the supplement in order to save it. The guests included a book publisher, a litterateur, a media commentator, a television journalist and a young IT professional who was also a Kannada story writer. The editors extended an invitation to me, marking me as a researcher and writer, to discuss ways to rescue the supplement. I promptly joined the other guests for a meeting arranged at one of the Times offices in the older city. Inside an elegantly furnished meeting room, everyone seemed to share a sense of impending danger and concern that the many foibles of Kannada newspapers were now showing the signs of a serious disorder. A worried editor recalled the glorious history of Sunday literary supplements in Kannada papers, and how they had served as a key discussion forum for many literary debates. These supplements were nothing less than a springboard for literary movements and a rite of passage for anyone who aspired to become a serious literary scholar in Kannada. ‘Without Kannada Sunday supplements, it is hard to imagine how Navya movement [modern literary movement in Kannada] could have grown at all!’, wondered the editor, recounting the erudite inveighs and debates among the literary scholars such as Y.N. Krishnamurthy (YNK), Gopalakrishna Adiga and Chandrashekar Patil

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(Champa) in these very columns.45 Opinion was sought from the invited ‘pragnav  antaru’ (enlightened class) on how the Sunday supplements should be modified to address the changing, yet ‘surely distinct’ Kannada readers and their expectations. Such efforts by the journalists to strategically accommodate management concerns about wasteful expenditure by refashioning but ultimately retaining what was deemed as fit and proper for Kannada readers signaled not so much r­ esistance to management dictates as journalists’ deeply rooted belief in the d ­ istinctness of their readership and their own indubitable difference from the English-speaking ‘mandi’ (people). These efforts deflected and at the same time reinforced management strategies of segmented readership. For the most part, the ideology of difference between local Kannada and ‘migrant English readers’ embraced by the TOI hinged on a series of binary oppositions that suffused journalists’ imagination of their readers. If the opposition between janasamanya (the common man) or jana (people) and the ‘upmarket, hi-fi, ITBT’ English reader was the most common of them, there were also other interlocking binaries. Kannada journalists imagined their readers to be serious readers as opposed to the frivolous, commercial-minded English news reader; represented ur u (place) in contrast to nagara (city); included halli jana (rural people) versus the overwhelming majority of town jana (urban people); resolutely stood for bhase-nela- samkriti (language–land–culture) as opposed to stocks–corporate–money; embraced Devegowda, Yedyurappa, Chennigappa (politicians) as news stars in contrast to the English-language media’s favourite icons, N.R. Narayana Murthy, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and Nandan Nilekani (captains of the new economy); represented a general adult public rather than the frivolous flirtation of English-language papers with hud￳uga–hud￳ugi (boy–girl) readers. A string of similar contrasting images between the political subjects of the Kannada readership versus the apolitical consumers of the English papers, and the voting public versus the ‘non-voting chatterati’ of the English papers shaped the imaginations of Kannada readers. These differences in the reader imaginations were animated by, and in turn animated, the larger field of news production, in which not only did the news organizations compete for ‘monetizable’ difference but subgroups of journalists tussled for status and legitimacy in a fissured landscape.

Fissured landscape: competition and antagonism in the news field

‘… ī valase patrakartaru …!’ (these migrant journalists), cursed Sacha, a senior Kannada journalist, grinding his teeth in seething anger. Sacha

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sat across a small round table at the lounge adjoining a busy bar on the lush green campus of the Press Club inside Cubbon Park, the largest public park in Bangalore. By their own account, the bustling Press Club was the most important recreational site and professional association for city-based working journalists. In his long journalistic career spanning three decades, Sacha had never missed his daily ritual of paying a visit to the club, unfailingly amusing his colleagues with pun-filled invectives on politics, journalists and corruption. It was not uncommon for frequent club visitors to witness Sacha sipping a cup of tea and pontificating on the state of journalism before a mesmerized group of club journalists surrounding him. ‘English journalists need only money. They feel they are just three steps away from heaven because they are equipped with English’, he accused, still in a fit of anger. Before he could end his diatribe against the English-language journalists whom he derisively described as ‘migrant journalists’, he remembered that a small section of his own ‘tribe’ mimic ‘English arrogance’. He ranted, in fury, ‘Some of our own journalists behave this way. Shekar46 never asks a question in Kannada. In all the press conferences, his questions will be in English. When do we become de‫ﷳ‬si [rooted, local]? We need to worry about amma first [mother: Kannada]. Then comes cikkamma [aunt or step-mother:  English].’ It was ironic that the gendered metaphor of amma–cikkamma was invoked at a predominantly male hang-out, where Sacha’s audiences and the Press Club in general rarely featured female journalists. For male journalists in the city, the Press Club was at once a retreat and a bustling source of news. The club attracted newspersons from various media, languages and backgrounds, just as it drew an even larger number of politicians, social activists, private companies, religious leaders, caste associations, civil society organizations, artists and a wide range of people staking claim to publicity through multiple strategies of appeal. Here, everyone knew everyone else and had an opinion to match. The club was flush with funds, thanks to generous grants by bureaucrats and politicians who plowed in money through formal and informal channels to befriend and appease the journalists. At the sprawling outdoor campus, across the round tables pitched at wide intervals, journalists sat, stretched out and gossiped. Gossip, indeed, was the language of the club. It was a token of status and means of mobility. Journalists were inducted into the community through gossip, which also determined how fast they grew within the community. Journalists with a proven ability to deliver gossip were clearly the strongest. The closer the gossip was to the power elite, the stronger was the journalist. Just as the gossip was not meant to be shared with everyone, it was not about everyone. A clear pecking

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order determined the flow of gossip. Young journalists were bullied by senior scribes, political reporters threw their weight around other beat reporters, journalists bullied or patronized the waiters, reporters with strong news sources in party politics clustered around to share news and gossip leaving the less informed out of their reach, reporters belittled cameramen and photographers, as did senior cameramen with their juniors. Sacha’s tirade against the English-media journalists represented one of the most dominant strands of the pecking order – the linguistic identity of the scribes. Just as Kannada journalists negatively contrasted their readers with English news readers, they marked their own difference from English-media journalists with striking antipathy. This was especially intense when the English-media journalists were from other linguistic states, female and young. The difference in the recruitment networks for English and Kannada papers was important here. If large English-language newspapers increasingly drew its labor from other states, leading to an increase in the number of journalists from Kerala and Tamil Nadu in Bangalore, Kannada newspapers attracted aspiring journalists from rural and semi-rural areas, often through personal networks and association. The strongest invective against the English-media journalists rested on the logic of associating migration with de-rootedness, English with migration and, thus, inauthenticity with English-language scribes. Kannada journalists had several pejorative titles reserved for their English peers – ‘banner journalists’, who thrive on the brand image of the papers rather than on their own merit, ‘academic journalists’ who get formally trained in vocational journalism schools and thus lack literary skills and depth of thinking, ‘corporate journalists’ who cozy up to business leaders and imbibe the arrogance of the elite corporate class, and ‘cooling glass journalists’ who never delve deep into the realities of the city – face its heat and dust – and instead take shelter behind the shield of their English privileges (with the English language itself as the greatest privilege). A  veteran Kannada journalist pointedly drew the contrast:  ‘English journalists view Bangalore with a cooling glass. Many things are blurred away for them. Kannada journalists look at it with power glasses. They see every minute detail – its brick and dust, sud￳ugad￳ s´unt￳i, everything.’ As with journalists’ imaginations of their respective reader groups, the metaphor of ‘sud￳ugad￳ s´unt￳i’ (literally ‘scrappy ginger’, but figuratively minute details) had clear class connotations. Many Kannada journalists in the city invoked the ‘insider/outsider’ binary to deride English-media journalists as ‘outsiders’ who had no knowledge of history, and who did not share a genuine concern for

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the state and its people. This spatial metaphor dovetailed with a gendered representation of inside/outside, as when journalists invoked the normative spatial assumptions of women relegated to the ‘interiors of home’ that was subverted by ‘arrogant and stylish’ English-speaking lady reporters who did not know anything about ‘socialism, Gokak caluvali [agitation], farmers’ movement or Tippu Sultan’.47 There were several narratives circulating within the journalistic community, which ridiculed the ‘shameful inadequacies’ of English journalists who confronted the towering personalities of the Kannada world with little knowledge, but were ultimately ‘tamed to bite the dust’, as the journalists triumphantly recalled: They [English-media journalists] sit cross-legged before Prof Nanjundaswamy [leader of the Karnataka state farmers’ association] and arrogantly ask him to introduce himself at press conferences. Once, a young lady from [the] Times of India asked him to introduce himself. A  visibly irritated Nanjundaswamy gave a smirking look at the young lady through the corner of his spectacles. He said softly, but with biting firmness: ‘your paper reaches 50 thousand people out of Karnataka’s five crore population. Our farmers use your paper to wrap bondas [crisp snack] and could care less about what you write. If you are not aware of who I am, please leave the room.’ The embarrassed lady left the room in silence!48

The ‘dignified reprimand’ of Prof. Nanjundaswamy was precisely what many Kannada male journalists reserved for the rising number of young English-language journalists. When moderate voices within the Kannada news field showed disapproval, often rightfully, to young journalists’ ignorance of culture and history, they did not fail to stress that they were English and female journalists. Even those who did not share the gendered representation of English vanity derided the new breed of English-media journalists’ lack of local knowledge. In his famous blog ‘Churumuri’, Krishnaprasad, a noted national journalist from Karnataka, wrote: The tragedy of Indian English media today is that for all its size and reach, it is pretty shallow if not vacuous. Mysore is famous for wonderfully fragrant sandalwood, which in Kannada is called ‘gandha’. Most of our English media have no idea, have no ‘gandha’ of anything local. They have no idea of local history, local culture, local cuisine, local heroes, local industries, local people, local anything. They have no domain knowledge of anything local beyond the superficial; no space for it beyond a few hundred words and some silly tit-bits.49

The more belligerent voices in Bangalore used an arsenal of binaries to further delegitimize these journalists, especially when they came from other states of India to work for the TOI, DNA, Deccan Chronicle, Mid Day, BM and other new-age English-language papers. More senior

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English media journalists from Karnataka and those who had migrated from Kannada newspapers to the English-language media were mostly not the target. A  popular Kannada journalist scathingly described through his striking binary of pracodane/santvana (provocation/consolation) that English journalists could only excite and provoke their readers but not console them. Invoking yet another opposition between bhavuka (emotional and attached) and nirbhavuka, Kannada journalists considered English reporters as nirbhavuka (detached and emotionless) in the face of real tragedy, who reduced life to a series of newsworthy banalities. Even when they shone in the sharpness of their reportage, they sensationalized news instead of seriously engaging with it and adorned the stories with vacuous smart-thinking. A  young Kannada journalist contemplatively commented, ‘It’s a beauty that inspires but does not help. This beauty can only provoke you, but cannot console you.’ The overarching cultural logic was rooted in the concept of ‘Kannada sogad￳u’ (flavor), which English-media journalists could never acquire despite their long years of working in the city, or especially because they stayed in the city within their comfortable English zones. As an effective strategy to force a semiotic rupture in the English-driven discourse of a global-modern city, the notion of sogad￳u inspired the journalists to establish their distinctiveness and assign alterity to English journalists in more assertive and aggressive ways. Sogad￳u, a popular term in the Kannada cultural and literary mindscape, connotes distinctiveness (vais´istya), ambiguity (eno vivarisalagada vais´istya) and beauty (savi ), which effectively rendered assimilation of English journalists impossible because they were forever different from Kannada distinctness, and constantly failed to imbibe sogad￳u, which is beautiful yet ambiguous in its sweep of meanings, and therefore indefinable and unattainable. According to several Kannada journalists, the TOI most strikingly epitomized the depredations of the ‘invading outsiders’. I heard journalists deploring the ‘monopolistic tendency’ of the TOI that ‘had the audacity’ to ignore local Kannada readers and exhibit its ‘over-confidence’ by inducting new (unelected) leaders like R.K. Mishra, winner of the Lead India campaign, into formal politics. Such was the contempt for this paper among a section of Kannada news proprietors and journalists that the British origins of the paper were frequently cited to debunk it as unpatriotic and imperialistic. The news proprietor of a Kannada evening daily reserved his most scathing remarks for the TOI, in his unremitting criticism of the English-language daily: I don’t even touch Times of India in my hand. Karnataka people will not benefit in any way from this group. They will loot our wealth, but will not help the state

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[region] in any way. It has no commitment at all. They will gobble us up for their own benefit [nungi nīr kudītare].

Many senior Kannada journalists squarely accused the TOI’s civic activism as ‘negative journalism’ that did not foster democratic politics in any sense, but ended up showing the bureaucrats and the political class in a poor light with no constructive solutions in sight. Pointing to some of the city infrastructure projects on which the TOI had turned belligerent in its critical comments, these journalists felt that state actors received an unfair share of bad publicity. Senior journalist V. N. Subbarao, who headed the Karnataka Media Academy, a state initiative to promote good journalism, remarked that negative journalism was not the same as the adversarial, investigative journalism of the 1970s: Why don’t you look at the positive side? If you go on needling them [state authorities] every day, what good would it serve? It is negativism. Negativism, to a certain extent, is welcome. It is required of us too. But if you bank only on this and make it a creed, there will be distortion. Adversary [sic] journalism was not negative journalism. There are several honest public servants and politicians. You should not deify certain personalities, nor should you demonize others. There should be some kind of a balance.

Subbarao, a man in his 60s, became the chairperson of the Media Academy after working for Kannada newspapers, television and cinema for more than four decades. Fluent in both English and Kannada, he built a public profile as a media commentator, with several juniors looking up to him as an influential man. Despite his long journalistic career and chairmanship of a government-sponsored academy, his idealistic reflections on old journalism had little purchase among English media journalists, especially those who had just entered the field. Just as Subbarao and his Kannada colleagues derided ‘English journalists’, English media scribes shared equally generalized perceptions about their Kannada peers. English journalists, especially those who recently migrated from other states, felt that the Kannada journalists kept aloof because they suffered from a severe ‘inferiority complex’, which made any professional collaboration with them extremely difficult even when they worked for the same commercial organization such as the Times group. The ‘invisible architecture of antipathy’ inside BM/VK, with which I  started the discussion, illustrates the contrast vividly. English journalists cultivated their own images of the Kannada scribes: that they were steeped in office politicking, busy designing complex plots to rein in defiant colleagues and favor sycophants, they were corrupt because of their close association with politicians, and orthodox in their cultural outlook because they gave disapproving sidelong

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glances at women wearing ‘tight blouses and hip hugging pants’ or passed remarks when a male colleague engaged in a long conversation with his female colleague. These perceptions were especially stark when not only the language but also the beats failed to match. Thus, if an English journalist on a ‘political beat’ was more comfortable striking up a relationship with her/his Kannada peer, it was more difficult for a business correspondent to connect with a political correspondent working for a Kannada newspaper. The presence of a small number of upper-caste bilingual journalists who enthusiastically straddled the worlds of Kannada literature and English-language journalism often deepened the perceptions of difference, as they too shared their discomfort with TOI-style urban modernity and English-media reporters who lacked ‘depth’ of local knowledge. Although English journalists working for the TOI and other new newspapers in the city did not unequivocally embrace the discourse of global city, as Chapter 5 will show further, the images of shallow journalism disloyal to the local land were well entrenched among a large number of Kannada journalists. The perceptions of difference persisted even though there were many contradictions within both the subfields. It was largely through their own, often turbulent, relationship with their peers on the other side of the language divide that journalists came to discern and decide which readers they served and in what ways. Competing newspapers in the inter-organizational field of news mimicked individual journalists in reproducing these aggressive ripostes and closely held perceptions of difference. The field of news-making was pulled by the contradictory forces of mimesis and difference. If mimesis played out most expressively through anxieties surrounding ‘missing a story’ or missing a trend, struggles for difference were perilously close to market-driven segmentations and brand positions. If the TOI marked its difference through the ‘new middle class’ discourse that was presented as culturally and politically superior to other reading publics, Deccan Herald struggled to balance ‘tradition’ and ‘newness’, which in practice meant a mix of lifestyle Page 3 stories with conventional emphasis on party politics and local culture; and The Hindu assumed a more critical voice and marked its distinction through elite forms of high English and erudite commentaries. If VK offered more racy prose on its front pages and laid great emphasis on columns by guest writers, Kannada Prabha, another prominent Kannada paper, fashioned a racier style of sensational news reporting. Prajavani shared the dilemmas of Deccan Herald and oscillated between more light-hearted urban news and serious coverage of political news and rural issues.

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In actual practice, these struggles for difference translated into a zestful chase for exclusive stories. Competition and struggle for difference often led to contradictory assessments and contrasting representations of the same event or personality, giving ample space for the political class, bureaucrats and other public personalities to maneuver, subvert or simply escape serious media evaluation. However, as far as urban politics was concerned, the inter-organizational competition for distinct identities and the antagonistic relationships between various journalistic groups played a key role in generating and iterating diverse visions of news publics. As the foregoing analysis illustrates, the marking of difference was especially striking along the English–Kannada divide. Conclusion This chapter has argued that the field logic of difference manifest in the journalistic imaginations of readers, the market logic of reader segmentation and the cultural logic of sogad￳u that animated antagonism within the linguistically marked journalistic community systematically reproduced a set of discursive practices that drew a distinction from the ‘global city’ discourse. Among other things, it brought the rural and marginalized groups within the city to the fore, and downplayed, if not demonized, the high-tech corporate sector. It valorized formal politics and politicians and fashioned a distinct cultural space sanctified by Kannada. Every element of this alternative vision of news publics, resulting from the acts of difference and antagonism within the news field, rendered the TOI-enabled neoliberal vision of the city even more tentative and incomplete, in ways that ‘defied sublation into hegemonic systems of understanding’.50 More important, visibility to multiple publics was structured as differentiated publics through the market and field logics of news production. While the dynamics of difference creation in Bangalore’s news field reflect the specificities of news markets in India, it is possible that such an analysis will be useful for similar field logics in many multilinguistic and commercial news fields, especially in postcolonial nations where colonial legacies shape linguistically marked struggles for power:  for instance, the tensions between media in Arabic and English in Lebanon or Egypt, or in Brazil where growing middle-class news segments in a neoliberal market have led to a boom in ‘popular’ tabloidized papers alongside national papers like O Estado de Sao Paulo and O Globo catering to high-income consumers.51 Without doubt, news media are organizational sites of market modulation and ‘order’. But they are also, as we saw, trans-organizational spaces of interaction and interpretations among journalists. The next two chapters

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will delve deeper into the forces of sociality that shape these interactions, foremost those of language and caste. I show how the processes of marking difference in the news field – discussed in this ­chapter – are shaped by the larger social field of language, caste and urban transformation, and how, therefore, the antagonisms in the news field cannot be reduced to a mere negative consciousness or empty position-taking by various players.52 How do embedded forms of sociality such as caste and historically inflected ideologies of regional language operate in the news field in ways that the logic of difference gains content and instigates a distinct form of urban politics? How do they together deflect, contest and even partner with mediated desire and global-urban modernity? Why did the Kannada journalists, for example, perceive their English-media counterparts as inauthentic outsiders? What was the larger socio-economic and ideological context that rendered this cultural invalidation of English journalists plausible and necessary? What were the consequences of these news practices for urban politics in globalizing Bangalore, and what does it say about global capital’s operations in ‘Third World’ cities? To these questions, the next chapter will turn.

4 Kannada Jagate: The sounds and silences of the bhasha media

Nothing but the grandeur of Vidhana Soudha, the state legislative house in the capital city of Bangalore, could have matched the ambitions of Vijaya Karnataka’s (VK) much publicized reader-driven campaign across Karnataka. For over a month, the campaign had gathered readers’ demands for state action on a set of issues and challenges facing the region, and had compiled the demands as a ‘citizen’s charter’ to petition the newly elected regional government in 2008. On this day, the final charter had to be formally presented to the Chief Minister of the state before a large gathering of invited guests and readers at the stately Banquet Hall, the largest convention room inside Vidhana Soudha. In the brand jargon, the campaign was a ‘reader-connect’ initiative, the first in a series of similar campaigns after the takeover of VK by the Times group. The branding team had planned two similar reader-connect programs to run simultaneously in its flagship products in the respective language markets. If VK’s campaign showcased a more dramatic title, ‘namma ase nimma bhase’ (Our dream, your promise), connoting religious idioms of promise before the divine authority of the god, the TOI’s more stoic and emphatic title of Citizen Agenda was cast in secular terms of contracts between the state and citizens. The teeming crowds at the Banquet Hall but little revealed the branding team’s elaborate corporate planning and meticulous market calculations. The overflow of myriad visitors gave it the appearance of an indoor political me‫ﷳ‬la (fair). Except for a handful of Times marketing executives who moved around in their Western formal suits with identity badges pinned to their shirts, the large congregation was a kaleidoscope of colors. The politicians, largely from the ruling BJP government, appeared in their spotless white suits and gleaming gold, talking incessantly on their shining cellphones, even as their aides softly rubbed the phone on their shirts (to avoid bad breath) and handed it over to their masters with a dutiful slouch every time a new call beeped on the little gadget. A small number of Kannada litterateurs walked in with a book in hand or the customary jhola, exchanging greetings with 126

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politicians, Kannada authority officers and senior bureaucrats with familiar camaraderie. Several Kannada film stars came in flashy outfits with an entourage of bemused abhimanis (fans-as-devotees). Kannada television actors arrived in equal number, matching their big-screen peers in style if not the aura of fan cover. The main astrologer for the Times group, who wrote regular columns in both the TOI and VK on astrological predictions, occupied a seat in the very first row in the audience. Sporting a huge vermilion dot on the forehead, rudraksi (sacred beads) around the neck and shimmering precious stones on the fingers, he acknowledged the reverential salutes of several of his clients among the audience. Not all, however, had the privilege of entering the venue. At the door of the Banquet Hall, a group of autorickshaw drivers flashed a single invitation card and sheepishly bargained with the police to allow their entire group into the venue. The police seemed more lenient with them, and silently allowed them to pass through the security metal detector. Outside the Banquet Hall groups of men were beginning to get restless with their failed attempts to cross the security post without an invitation card or an entry pass. Among them were young men with striking yellow shirts or stoles, loudly declaring their loyalty for Kannada nad￳u (Kannada land/Kannada nation) by matching the color of their attire with the bicolored flag of Karnataka. In front of Vidhana Soudha, on the public road, there was more commotion. Pro-Kannada activists of Karnataka Raksan￴a Ve‫ﷳ‬dike (Karnataka Protection Forum, KRV) and other groups of men were riding on their speeding bikes, waving and swirling Kannada flags, and trying to drive past the police barricades with loud cheering for Kannada.1 There were also open Jeeps and small vans crowded with activists, boisterously negotiating with the police through their raucous symbols of affluence or ear-splitting sounds of Kannada slogans, and engaging the police in heated debates on why they had a right to enter the venue. I made my way through the crowded roads and loud slogans, to enter the familiar campus of Vidhana Soudha, confidently flashing the invitation card at every security checkpoint. Although uncomfortable with my presence at his office for long periods of research and especially during the editorial meetings, Vishweshwara Bhat, the editor of VK, had been very generous in handing the invitation card to me, and had even expressed surprise over my hesitation. ‘Of course, you can come’, he had assured me, perhaps fully aware of the public nature of the event in contrast to the confidentiality of editorial meetings. The invitation card had eased my way into Vidhana Soudha, which had lately become a sealed fortress following anonymous bomb threats.

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Unsure of which row to occupy, as there were clear markings on the reserved rows for the VVIPs and VIPs, and seeing several familiar faces among the audience, I finally decided to occupy a seat in the press gallery on the left of the dais, which gave me a chance to strike up a conversation with reporters from other news publications. The number of print journalists at the gallery was small, since the event was organized by a rival newspaper. However, prominent Kannada television channels did not hesitate to cover the event of an indirect competitor and deputed their reporting crews in large numbers. The regional branch of the state television channel, Doordarshan, had arranged for a live telecast of the event on its Kannada channel. The ambience was just appropriate for a live telecast, since the gathering was large, yet manageable for an indoor shoot; the cultural events were brief, yet sharply effective in raising the Kannada spirit; and most of all, the presence of the Chief Minister gave a seal of legitimacy and state sanctity. The program started with a musical note. A band of musicians sang ‘bar isu Kannad￳a d￳ind￱imava’, a robust composition by leading Kannada poet Kuvempu, to rouse the vivacious spirit of Kannada by invoking the deity Lord Shiva and his dance to the thunderous, pulsating rhythms of d￳amaruga.2 Amplified through massive stereo sound systems, the song reverberated across the hall to hold the large audience in an exhilarating patriotic spell. Such was the impact of the resonating sounds and the chromatic splendor of the visual symbols of Kannada that a senior management executive of the Times group began his welcome address in a thickly apologetic tone, almost beseeching the audience to forgive his impudence in breaching the sacrosanct ambience with the taint of English. ‘Namaskara’, he started confidently, with the local expression of greeting, to shield the rest of his English speech from possible jeering, and watched his words carefully to include quotations of Kannada poets and metaphors drawn from Kannada literature. The essence of his English speech, however, echoed the familiar Times rationale behind such campaigns as a ‘bridge between the state and its people’, although this time it had a broader embrace of the entire state of Karnataka and not merely Bangalore, since their Kannada flagship product VK was promoted as ‘rightly poised’ to be the ‘voice of Karnataka’. A printed booklet with the final list of people’s demands was distributed at the venue to the audience, soon after Veerendra Heggade, the social reformer and religious leader of a Hindu-Jain pilgrim center, Dharmasthala, ceremonially released the ‘people’s mandate’ (janara hakkottaya) on the elevated dais, to the thundering applause of the large gathering. Moments before the release, there were courteous nudges between the chief guests on who should occupy the largest and most

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ornamented chair on the dais. Although the high seat was reserved for the Chief Minister, he refused to assume it before the religious-social reformer, and insisted on occupying a smaller chair next to it. Heggade, on his part, shied away from ceremonial importance, although he finally acquiesced, persuaded by the Chief Minister’s polite, almost reverential, requests to him to ascend the high seat. The Chief Minister explained the rationale behind this gesture by calling Heggade a ‘Rajaguru’ (court philosopher), who, in the long Indian tradition, assumed the superior role of amending and guiding the moves of the ksatriya (ruler). When his turn came to address the gathering, Heggade used the same idiom of traditional India, but this time re-inscribing it in religious and devotional terms, to liken VK’s campaign to a morning suprabhata (devotional praise) for the reigning deity. Just as the devotees awaken the deity with loud jagate (a gong/plate-shaped percussion instrument) and devotional praises every morning, jana (people), as devouts, should bestir the governments from their slumber through the devotional awakening sound of jagate. Although VK, on its part, had promptly translated the key Times vocabulary of ‘aspiration’ as ingita (will), aśaya (aspiration) and hakkottaya (mandate), the chief guest of the event and the symbolically consecrated representative of Kannada jana had more firmly cast the terms of engagement in religious-devotional idioms. Without contradicting this approach, the editor of VK, who had chosen the religious-social reformer as the chief guest, briefly summarized the demands of Karnataka janate (people) before setting the stage for its formal release. Finally, however, the news peg of the event for the journalists came in the form of an announcement by the Chief Minister about a mega summit, slated to be held shortly, to discuss and draw out plans to make Bangalore a model city. Lapping up the Chief Minister’s announcement as a concrete piece of news emerging out of an otherwise ‘esoteric cultural event’, a small number of print journalists hurriedly left the place. Until the end of the Chief Minister’s speech, the reporters were nervous about finding a suitable news peg, since the event could not have merited a news story merely as the presentation of people’s mandate, collected as such by a competing newspaper. What does this performative matrix of ‘Kannada nad￳u’ and ‘Kannada janate’, through which various demands of readers were assembled, tell us about the imagining and workings of ‘Kannada’ in the news media? How, within this performative matrix, were a range of actors – politicians, religious leaders, social reformers, astrologers, litterateurs, middle-class readers, local cinema actors and working-class groups – brought together as embodying Kannada nad￳u? What are the social and political functions assigned to and sanctified by Kannada in this performative and

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discursive practice? How did it, ironic as it would seem, end with a grand announcement of a mega summit to fix the Bangalore agenda? This chapter is concerned with the symbolic and political effects of ‘Kannada’, and how Kannada, as a force of sociality, political sensibility and a ‘symbol’ for diverse meanings and embodied practices, shapes the news media’s interface with urban transformation in Bangalore. As I have been arguing, the news media’s entanglements with urban politics cannot be captured in a singular frame of capital takeover manifested in the ideology of ‘global city’. This chapter is a step toward complicating this narrative about the news media’s assumed compliance with particular avatar of the neoliberal urban agenda in urban India. As this chapter will demonstrate, this is also not a straightforward case of subaltern resistance. In exploring the performance of ‘Kannada’ in the news field, I  develop a framework of ‘bhasha’ media that speaks to diverse iterations of what the city should mean to its readers. These articulations sometimes resist and at other times deflect or simply remain oblivious to the broader urban changes instigated by global capital, while also being appropriated by new forms of nexus between regional and global capital. The key question that drives this chapter is whether the multifarious demands cohering around the cultural logic of ‘Kannada’ shape alternative discourses about urban publics, and confer democratic visibility on sections of people other than the celebrated ‘new middle class’. Examining the cultural and political repertoire of Kannada as they unfold in the news field, I ask how journalists, especially Kannada journalists, negotiate urban transformation through their narratives about the grievances and cultural superiority of Kannada nad￳u. I  trace this along three inter-related registers:  the insider–outsider binary, cultural politics of Kannada, and Kannada’s moments of subalternity. In so doing, I  do not intend to give an impression that the entire Kannada press behaves in a predictable manner, or that English-language journalists do not in any way relate to the meanings enmeshed in the symbol of Kannada or engage in caste-based news practices. The framework of bhasha moves beyond a simple divide between the English-language and Kannada media, although for reasons I have been elaborating throughout the book, bhasha is more readily articulated among the Kannada journalists or English journalists who consider themselves as ‘insiders’ to the city.3 In charting the practices of bhasha, I extend the recent postcolonial critiques of cultural production in India, most prominently the works of Kajri Jain and Arvind Rajagopal, and historical works on linguistic identities,4 to grapple with the elusive category of ‘vernacular’ publics and how it could speak for news cultures mobilized by notions of Kannada nad￳u and Kannada janate in Bangalore.

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These studies, including the subaltern seam of critiques, recognize, define and legitimize forms of publicness that are distinct from bourgeois modernity. The alternative terrain of meanings and politics is called by various names  – ‘indigenous’, ‘local’, ‘vernacular’, ‘subaltern’  – and is always conceptualized in terms of its relation to the hegemonizing forms of discourse and power, whether it is global capital, universalist-modernist paradigms of knowledge or the nation-state.5 With varying degrees of emphasis and vantage points, scholars have defined this relation as one of exchange or co-constitution, such that the problem is in terms of translating between the two languages of politics operating in the two realms. Very often, this domain speaks in languages other than English. The language of the ‘other domain’, therefore, is not a simple difference in the medium of communication; it embodies a distinct political and discursive location within the larger matrix of power. This position is very rarely a dominant one, and as such is reinforced by the everyday denigration of the ‘vernacular’ as an inferior language medium, including, at times, in the field of journalism. If in traditional India the vernacular languages had to articulate their position in relation to the high literary form and exalted language of Sanskrit through acts of reverential alterity, as Sudipta Kaviraj points out,6 the current linguistic configuration assigns vernacular languages a dominated status vis-à-vis English, although the subaltern domain itself has been variously theorized as subversive or, as in the Derridian tradition, ‘that untamable specter, which haunts and operates all master narratives’.7 In many of these works, attempts to ascertain the nature of the subaltern domain are cast in the larger theoretical project to intervene in the teleological accounts of Western modernity, and as such, the domain is arrested in its alterity, leaving little scope for its mutations and changing articulations with the dominant systems of capital and power. Perhaps a more nuanced account of the vernacular has arrived in the ‘second wave’ of postcolonial studies. Here, the ‘vernacular’ is more explicitly defined in relation to the global (neoliberal) modernism of liberalizing India and theorized as a realm distinct both from the corporate service sector and English-speaking national commercial culture. Spelling out a theory of ‘vernacular’ for post-liberalization India, Kajri Jain, in her extensive study of calendar art in India, insists on the category of ‘vernacular’, which can steer clear of primordialism and romanticism because ‘[v]‌ernacularity is not pure, systematic, temporally primordial, or territorially bounded; it speaks to the heterogeneity of postcolonial idioms and forms of experience while addressing their contemporaneity and currency, and their implicitly subordinate relation to hegemonic forms of discourse and practice.’8 However, she quickly adds that ‘vernacular’ cannot be theoretically equated with ‘subaltern’ because

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it can be simultaneously subordinate within one set of power relations and dominant in another. I take this thread of inherent heterogeneity, ‘impurity’ and multiple power positions of the ‘vernacular’ and develop it in the context of news practices of the bilingual news field, but without borrowing the term ‘vernacular’. This is for three reasons. First, the latent potential of the ‘vernacular’ to efface the particularities of language cultures and power dynamics could foreclose the possibilities of variation. This is especially true in the case of language- and text-based print media, as Jain herself recognizes. Second, avoiding ‘vernacular’ entails avoiding the assumption of ‘epistemic disjunction’ posited by Jain. I have discussed this point in the previous chapter in relation to values of objectivity in the news field. Third, as a specific departure from Jain’s conception of the vernacular, I examine the nature of articulating alternative political spaces through multiple vocabularies of news publics and news practices within the corporate sector or national commercial culture, rather than the ‘bazaar’ realm, which is apart and distinct from both. Vernacular also carries the theoretical load of interpretations in the Western academy that considers it as ‘the power of not being institutional’.9 To avoid these problems, I replace ‘vernacular’ with ‘bhasha’ media. Bhasha designates a set of practices and cultural imaginations of news that index claims to cultural richness and distinctness, often with popular imaginations of geocultural spaces of political expression10 and particular sets of sedimented meanings conveyed through regional languages’ position as vehicles of nearness, intimacy and familiarity. These meanings gain valence especially through the binary of English–Kannada, as we saw in the previous chapter. The long history of regional languages in traditional India that were born out of a ‘slow process of differentiation’ between ‘the commonness of Sanskrit at the high end and the easy neighborly intelligibility of the dialects below’11 and their mode of address in intimate and familiar terms in the twelfth-century bhakti tradition (devotionalism) shape the bhasha domain as at once intimate, familiar and ‘authentic’. As Orsini reveals in her illuminating historical work on colonial public spheres in North India, nationalist struggles assigned ‘authenticity’ to the Hindi press by positioning Hindi against English, ‘the language of imperialist rule’, and Urdu, which was portrayed as ‘the language of a debauched and tyrannical elite’. Therefore, in the realm of popular nationalist struggles, it was especially the duty of the vernacular press (Hindi) to reflect the ‘real nation’ and reflect the ‘sadharan￴ samaj’ (non-elite public domain) by symbolically refusing the hierarchy between ‘superior’ English and inferior vernacular.12 Sentiments centering on languages extend beyond the grounds of authenticity in Tamil Nadu, as Sumati Ramaswamy reveals

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in her work on Tamil politics. The structures of affect and sentiment that developed around Tamil transformed it into ‘an object of devotion’ among Tamil speakers through diverse discourses interwoven with the language.13 In her richly detailed study on Telugu linguistic nationalism, Lisa Mitchell demonstrates how a language could transform into an object of intense affective attachment shaping the political course of the Andhra region in South India and affecting, in no small measure, the lives of thousands of activists who were ready to sacrifice their life for the language community.14 Together with the perceptions of intimacy, constructions of authenticity and sentiments of love and devotion centering on it, bhasha also signals the latest phase of resurgence and confidence in the regional-language news markets,15 mirroring the revival of regional-language literary markets across the country under the reinvigorated category of bhasha, which set in motion subtle changes in the power equations between the ‘superior’ realm of English and ‘the dominated’ regional-language spheres.16 In 2011, the ten largest circulated newspapers in India included papers in Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil. Only one English-language news daily, the TOI, appeared in the list. The market-inflected revival of the bhasha literary domain as well as the regional-language news media calls for a revision of the ‘vernacular’ thesis, and I seek to do it by replacing the term with ‘bhasha’. Bhasha speaks to the specificities of the current social-political context of a second-wave of revival of regional-language news markets (after what Robin Jeffrey described as vernacular news revolution), while at the same time acknowledging the sedimented meanings and distinct modes of address, marked by a sociality that is ‘ambivalent about the exuberant globalizing market place and its forms of public culture, and [whose members] are self-consciously removed from this, and even occasionally indulge in imagining they are constituted outside it or prior to it’.17 Bhasha does not denote a realm severed from the larger ethos of market centrality; rather it is self-consciously set within the overarching context of urban transformation and consumer modernity, and defined by its organic links with formal politics.18 At the same time, it draws groups of actors such as language activists who straddle the boundaries of formal and informal politics and seek to forgo the boundaries between urban and rural in their cultural constructions. Bhasha constitutes practices where binaries of formal–informal or civil society–political society become untenable.19 It embodies a ‘surplus of connotations’,20 with its moments of subalternity in terms of giving voice to the subaltern-as-disenfranchised,21 but overlaps also with elite politics based on caste and linguistic territoriality. It emphasizes what Kajri Jain has correctly recognized as the problem of reducing ‘the popular’ to

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a homogeneous site of social change, co-option (by the marketplace) or resistance (to capitalist power/nation-state), and instead examines the very context within which such distinctions between national, vernacular, global, even bhasha, emerge as a cultural-social concept, and as part of a web of semiotic and political distinctions between them.22 Bhasha thus forces us to understand the conditions that brought the bhasha ethos to the fore, as well as the sedimented meanings around the regional language it animates in the process. What then were the meanings of Kannada that constituted the bhasha news ethos? Was it only a nativist argument against the perceived invasion of the global order? Was it mere cultural drumbeating? Was it these and more?

Theorizing ‘Kannada’ for the news field

How can Kannada denote a subaltern world? All our rulers come from here! U.R. Ananthamurthy23

Looking closely at the colonial period and post-independence decades, Janaki Nair has extensively documented and analyzed the gains and downfalls of the Kannada movements.24 Her arguments are based on the central thesis of ‘division of labor’ between languages, which draws on Bourdieu’s framework of linguistic markets to elaborate the predicament of Kannada and Kannada identity movements.25 As she points out, Kannada movements operate within the historical condition of privileging economic nationalism over cultural nationalism in princely Mysore, and a strong association between capitalist growth and the English language in countries like India. In such a context, Kannada movements have ‘abandoned the economic and technological dominance to English while striving for political legitimate authority through the agency of the state and against other minorities’.26 This division of labor has translated into aggressive language politics in the cultural-political sphere, although it has failed to address the growing economic dominance of English, which is the actual source for the dominated status of Kannada. While much of Nair’s analysis is without doubt compelling and amply supported by a large volume of historical material, it nevertheless hinges on an implicit assumption of finely differentiated fields of politics, culture, economics and technology, with little room for overlaps or fuzziness between them. This is not merely a fine-grained theoretical objection; it also has implications for the normative positions we assume with regard to the Kannada movements or language-based movements in India more generally. Although Nair recognizes that there are multiple strands of the Kannada movements, she foregrounds virulent and

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xenophobic ethnocultural nationalism as the key feature of the Kannada movements, based again on the framework of division of labor between English and Kannada. My ethnographic fieldwork among journalists in Bangalore suggests that this argument needs a revision in the current moment of urban transition. Following Ernesto Laclau, I contend that Kannada works as an incomplete and partially embodied ‘empty signifier’ for the Kannada-language journalists and a section of English-language journalists, in ways that different demands are brought to bear on the news discourse without always failing to ‘harness the democratic political energies of those who are critical of current social transformations’.27 VK’s efforts to assemble various publics as true representatives of ‘Kannada nad￳u’  – as we saw at the beginning of the ­chapter  – is one indication of the heterogeneous composition of Kannada’s work as an empty signifier. Thus, I take a more sympathetic view of the movements marshaled on behalf of Kannada and the symbolic space circumscribed by Kannada, reposing some faith in them, as it were. However, this position is qualified by a strong awareness of the possibilities of conservative and violent xenophobic politics made available precisely through its fleeting, protean and unstable nature. Laclau’s description of ‘empty signifiers’ captures these tensions and instabilities through an elaborate conceptual grid: in their most ideal form, empty signifiers serve to signify the totality of ‘differential ensemble’ (demands and identities existing through their difference from others) by ‘expelling’ an element (identity, demand or a certain section of the population) and articulating an equivalence between all the differences within the ensemble by embodying the totality in its particularity.28 Because the demands/identities/social groups are rarely ready to abandon their difference, the totality is always a ‘failed totality’ marked by a tension between what he elaborately describes as the ‘differential and equivalential logics’.29 Empty signifiers rely on representations, libidinal forms of bonding and affect to articulate its particularity as the impossible totality. The tension between differential and equivalential logics, however, continues to render empty signifiers unstable, partial and in need of affective investment. Equally important is the indeterminacy of the content of these empty signifiers – neither is it supplied by the economy in the last instance or functionalist system paradigms. It is historical, particular and contingent, which could embody either progressive politics or regressive populism. In borrowing this analysis, I do not intend to propose that Kannada operates as an empty signifier in its most idealized form in the news field. I  only suggest that, for news actors, different grievances came to acquire meaning and intelligibility through the signification of

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Kannada. Furthermore, because of its unstable nature, it embraced a range of positions, values and meanings, which can at best be termed as a constantly mutating constellation of meanings. This constellation of meanings and demands was largely forged in relation to the expelled other  – English-speaking bourgeois, global consumption and corporate-sector interests that had together acquired reasonable clarity under the strict editorial directions of newspapers such as the TOI. Therefore, rather than conceptualize the problem as a division of labor between English and Kannada, I argue that overlapping political, cultural, social and economic concerns of a heterogeneous group of news publics are increasingly expressed through Kannada, which serves as a partial empty signifier. Further, the partial embodiment of this signifier rests on associated meanings of nad￳u-nud￳i-sanskriti-samudaya (region–language–culture–community) shaped and authenticated by Kannada vagmaya (linguistic ecumene). This, among other things, means that the dominated status of Kannada is both a cause and a symptom of struggles that are mobilized in the name of Kannada. Although it is tempting to conclude that it could very well be another instance of ‘ethno-populism’ in which ‘plebs and populus overlap’ with no internally constituted ‘other’,30 I  intend to show that the figure of English, corporate and globalizing Bangalore very much functions as an ‘internal other’ and partially empties ‘Kannada’ in ways that it could embrace a wider range of demands, differences, and grievances.31 Kannada, as a partially empty signifier, operated in the news field in at least two distinct ways. First, notions around Kannada assembled the reading publics other than the English bourgeois and corporate votaries of neoliberalism as an intelligible category for the journalists. Second, concurrent with caste-based news cultures, practices centering on Kannada shaped the struggles among journalists to gain or avert dominance within the news field. In other words, Kannada, as deployed by journalists, provided a thematic grid to define news publics distinct from the TOI-sanctified upwardly mobile new middle class, and at the same time embodied the internal power dynamics of the news field. In both these enactments, journalists drew on the historical meanings associated with Kannada to negotiate with the discourses, actors and practices of English-media-driven global agenda for Bangalore. To invoke Bourdieu again, this indexes a dialectical relationship between power struggles within the news field enacted by journalists and their embodied practices, and similar struggles in the larger social field mirrored and shaped by the media. In the following section, I describe various demands and publics that were brought within the folds of media visibility as legitimate and important through the specific performance of Kannada as a partially empty signifier.

Heterogeneous publics as a news public



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Heterogeneous publics as a news public: the performance of Kannada

With little doubt, at times in faint embarrassment, Kannada scholars admitted that Sheldon Pollock’s seminal work on the ‘cosmopolitan vernacular’ constituted a watershed moment in the literary history of Kannada. First published in 1998 as a research article for an international journal, it circulated among the Kannada intellectual community through the plentiful writings and seminar discussions of K.V. Subbanna, who was among the most prominent in reviving scholarly interest in Kavirajamarga (KRM), the first available literary text in Kannada.32 Pollock was not the first to interpret the influential text nor was his work the only comprehensive treatise. The canonical text had sparked interest sporadically throughout the post-independence years, with bilingual intellectuals like Bheemarao Chitaguppi (1972), M.M. Kalaburgi (1973), Muliya Timappiah (1973), V.  Seetharamiah (1973) and Krishnakumar (1995), among other scholars, laboring with their sound knowledge of both Sanskrit and Halegannad￳a (medieval Kannada from the fifth to the fourteenth century CE ). Erudite as they were, their works, however, treated KRM solely as a prescriptive rule-setting text of poetics (laksan￴agrantha), considered to be operating under the deep influence of the larger literary and intellectual tradition of Sanskrit.33 Pollock’s work was seminal not only because he took these debates to a new level of intellectual discourse, connecting them to the wider South Asian literary tradition, but also because he offered a compelling socio-political interpretation of KRM, whose meanings and functions, according to him, far exceeded the formal aspects of prescribing norms and codes for poetry. Two arguments are important in Pollock’s thesis: first, it was evident from KRM that Kannada articulated a transregional linguistic-political aspiration by envisioning an expansive, albeit regional, geocultural space in the early ninth century C E (also known as the middle or medieval period); and, second, this articulation had the inevitable underside of dominating ‘smaller cultural spaces’ (e.g., smaller linguistic-cultural spaces such as Konkani, Tulu, etc.). The geocultural space envisioned by Kannada worked itself out by ‘domesticating the literary apparatus … of the superposed cultural space’ embodied by Sanskrit.34 Just as Sanskrit emerged as a ‘prototype’ for transethnic political and moral order through its aesthetics and rigid grammar, Pollock contends that Kannada claimed a similar translocal cultural-political universe within a smaller regional geography by consciously appropriating the Sanskrit cosmos and ‘grafting’ it on to the ‘local world of Kannada’. Indeed Pollock went on to compare KRM with Dante’s De Vulgari

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Eloquentia and went so far as to argue that KRM could be ‘the first work in world culture to constitute a vernacular poetics in direct confrontation with a cosmopolitan language’.35 While I do not engage with the arguments of Pollock critically on their own terms, for I  am not equipped for it, I  intend to examine the effect it had on a significant section of Kannada intellectuals. As such, the number of intellectuals engaged in serious evaluations of classical texts has always remained small and do not constitute a majority even within the small group of Kannadigas with an interest in literature.36 However, at the turn of the millennium, there was a surge in scholarly interest around KRM among intellectuals and other readers, beginning with Pollock’s thesis but quickly followed by Kannada commentaries on KRM, especially the edited compilation by Rahamat Tarikere (first published in 2000 and republished in 2008); workshops and seminars on the text at the Kannada University, Hampi and Ninasam, Heggodu and other places; and, to cap them all, the publication of S. Settar’s influential historical work locating KRM in relation to early Dravidian literature, primarily the first Tamil text Tolkappiam (first century CE ) and Sangam literature of the early decades of the first millennium. Such was the demand for Settar’s book that the publishing house (Abhinava) brought out seven editions within a span of three years, preparing in 2010 to release another compilation of Settar’s key historical and other literary works. There was a wide range of positions, perspectives and evaluative stances among Kannada intellectuals on KRM itself and the historical works of Pollock and Settar, debating finer points on the relative influence of Sanskrit and Dravidian literature on early Kannada texts, the authorship of KRM and distinctions elaborated in the text between De‫ﷳ‬si (literature of Place) and Marga (literature of the Way). However, what stood out as a key concern in all these positions, and what indeed fueled a revival in the interests around the text was the presumed potentiality of Kannada to ‘resist the surging phenomenon of globalization and reinvent the dissipating roots of our culture’, as Murigeppa, the vice chancellor of the Hampi Kannada University, stated in his foreword to a new critical analysis of KRM.37 KRM was believed to epitomize this competence because it had ‘successfully confronted’ a mighty Sanskrit cosmopolis with its cultural virtuosity and aesthetic splendor. Where, therefore, the oft-cited lines of KRM were not the intricate passages or erudite exegesis on the distinctions of poetics between De‫ﷳ‬si-Marga, gun￴a-dosa (linguistic features that enhance or hinder literary beauty), gaud￳a-vaidarbha (northern and southern styles of Kannada literature) or vakrokti-svabhavokti (indirect and direct expression), but ‘Kuritodadeyum

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kavya prayoga parin￴atamatigal’ which hailed the people of Kannada as erudite and skilled in the use of literature even when they had not read it, and ‘Kave‫ﷳ‬r i indama Godavarivaramirdanad￳u’,38 which was suggestive of KRM’s mapping of the Kannada geocultural space under a single polity between the rivers Kaveri and Godavari in the Deccan region. Far from Pollock’s nuanced arguments on the cosmopolitan vernacular that was at once ‘regional and supraregional’, and even farther from Settar’s copious praise for the literary merit of early Tamil literature, Kannada enthusiasts invoked KRM to claim an integrated and ineffaceable semantic complex that bound together language, community, culture, territory (land) and unified polity. Growing readership for new critical treatises on KRM suggested that Kannada enthusiasts were no longer confined to litterateurs and scholars, but represented a broader group including non-residential Kannadigas living abroad, a section of journalists, techies, college students, university professors and middle-class women writers. While scholars like Subbanna repeated, with their own slant, Pollock’s key arguments on KRM’s construction of an ‘organic, comprehensive and composite unit’ of the Kannada world, they also insisted that it might not indicate ‘mapped spaces … and measured distances’ in the modern sense of boundary marking,39 but rather that the ‘unmapped mapping’ of the text indexed a larger bhava (feel and sentiment) of the Kannada cosmos.40 Although interpreters of KRM stressed this nuanced abstraction, many Kannada activists seized the text to forward more direct claims. To them, the vast geography between Kaveri and Godavari suggested by KRM stood as evidence for Kannada’s prowess. During one of our conversations at my home institute in Bangalore, a leading scholar of KRM, half in jest, quipped that he was still surviving at the hands of Kannada enthusiasts because he had sought to demonstrate that the fuzzy mapping of the text could indicate a Kannada land stretching far beyond the boundaries of Kaveri and Godavari, and not the opposite. Ironically, the canonical text written in Halegannad￳a bestowed on and resuscitated an identity for those who had never read and were least likely to read it in its original, full form. For many Kannada activists, the modern conception of bounded regions, circumscribed, as it were, by the language, was more suitable for linguistic politics than any insistence on fuzziness or abstract bhava, however erudite or well-researched they might have been. This was even more pronounced when Kannada linguistic pride was made to measure itself against the neighboring Tamil nationalism, as Janaki Nair rightly argues. Such was the enthusiasm to establish Kannada’s uniqueness and antiquity that scholarly debates were often about proving how

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KRM was ahead of Tamil’s Tolkappiam in boundary marking (nakas e racane) and in assuming literary status by braving a successful encounter with the Sanskrit cosmopolis. Most clearly, this composite stock of meanings around Kannada and its power relations endowed the symbol with particular sedimented signifieds, which were historically inflected by KRM’s early treatise and shaped by contemporary invocations of the canonical text to mark Kannada identity.41 Perhaps, Kannada linguistic movements could have asserted their position even without KRM’s purported suggestions, but the growing popularity of the text at the turn of the millennium indicated that the text provided a sense of historical sanctification, and stood as a striking illustration of Kannada’s possibility to stand up to the surging ‘supralocal’, which in the last two decades was marked as global English-language modernity, and the ‘IT-BT corporate sector’ embodying it in a city like Bangalore. Insider/outsider binary It was not surprising, therefore, that the most common invocation of Kannada loka among journalists rested on the conflictual zone of insiders and outsiders, based on the logic of territorial localization, proprietorial nativism and the metaphors of ‘soil’ and ‘the aroma of the soil’ (man￳n￳ina vasane). Such sentiments had always existed in the Kannada news field, sharing the longer history of Kannada nationalism. The earliest forms of organized Kannada movements (Kannada caluvali) in the region were linked to annexing Kannada-speaking regions to the newly created state of Mysore (renamed Karnataka in 1973). Pro-Kannada groups that were galvanized into action even before the state unification movement demanded, for example, that the Bellary region bordering the then Hyderabad province (under Nizam’s control) should become part of the Mysore state. These early struggles suggest that the origins of Kannada movements were deeply linked to what they considered as their relevance primarily on the grounds of geographical (territorial) integration:  how frayed geographies should be assembled into linguistically bound territories.42 Janaki Nair points out that the emergence of a more belligerent form of Kannada nationalism in the last two decades of the twentieth century marked a shift from the earlier articulations of Kannada identity.43 She cites writer D.R. Nagaraj to consider a distinction between fear-centered Kannada nationalism (represented, for example, by KRV) and ‘spiritual nationalism’ espousing humanism in the writings of earlier Kannada ideologues such as Aluru Venkata Rao.

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Kannada sentiments of proprietorial nativism, ascendant in the last two decades of the twentieth century, significantly influenced journalists’ decisions to choose between diverse news sources, inflecting the news content they produced. To have Kannada organizations as reliable news sources, for instance, was more common among Kannada journalists than English-media journalists who dismissed them, with visible antipathy, as ‘rowdy organizations’. I once asked a young Kannada journalist to name pro-people organizations they cover or cite regularly in their stories on the city. He instantly named Karnataka Raksan￴a Ve‫ﷳ‬dike (KRV, which was the first to be named), Vatal Nagaraj Paksa (Vatal Nagaraj Party), Kannad￳a Se‫ﷳ‬ne (Kannada Army) and Kannad￳a Samara Se‫ﷳ‬ne (Kannada Combat Squad) – organizations active in Kannada identity politics. ‘There are plenty more Madam, but these are the most important pro-people organizations’, he said to me, with casual conviction. Following this discussion, I  returned to VK and the Press Club for more conversations with journalists on Kannada movements. The Indian state had just then announced that Kannada would get classical language status, which was until then reserved for languages such as Sanskrit and Tamil. This had brought to a successful conclusion a long battle fought by Kannada scholars, and intermittently supported by the regional governments. I saw Kannada journalists celebrate the news with enormous excitement. My Kannada-speaking family and relatives exchanged congratulatory greetings on the day, although I shared the skepticism of a few commentators about how classical status could do anything different to a language we call our own. For many journalists, however, the classical language status was a sign simultaneously of Kannada’s illustrious past and its untameable present. They used the occasion to show the repeated ‘unjust onslaught’ of migrants from other states on the Kannada language community. On the day the announcement was made public, the editorial in VK seized the occasion to bemoan the ‘sorry state’ of Kannada and complained that the language was ‘incapacitated’ despite its glorious history and ‘faced the risk of being a minority language in its own city of Bangalore’.44 The distinction between ‘legacy Bangaloreans’ and ‘migrant outsiders’ was strongly entrenched in the bhasha news field, and Kannada emerged as the key symbolic node to vent frustrations around the perceived dominance of affluent, migrant population employed largely in the new economy sectors. As we saw in the previous chapter, Kannada journalists derided English-language female journalists as inauthentic scribes, partly because they represented the ‘inauthentic’ migrant groups in the city. Such was the animosity toward the migrant community that a section of journalists vented their anger through their blogs when an

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anonymous online group started ‘leavingbangalore.com’ to hurl criticisms at the city’s crumbling infrastructure and ‘boring’ culture. A section of bhasha-inflected journalists sprang into action and accused these migrants as ‘pīd￳e’ (pests) who derived their livelihood from the city and yet remained detached, and even hostile toward it. Jokes and satire circulating on journalist blogs captured these sentiments vividly. In one such chain mail of lampooning the migrants, a blogger had recreated the stereotypes about Kannadigas to ultimately drive a message about their dominated status: One Kannadiga = Udupi Hotel in Singapore/Seoul/San Francisco Two Kannadigas = Father–son political party Three Kannadigas = Campus placements at Infy [Infosys], scheduled to go to the US soon Four Kannadigas = Entire Kannada-speaking population of Koramangala and Indiranagar.

Another journalist improvised the chain by adding, Five Kannadigas = Kannada activists.45 There was indeed a canny consensus between these journalists and Kannada activists on the question of migrants from other states in India. In perfect consonance with the demands of the Kannada identity movements for state intervention to redress the grievances of Kannadigas, Kannada newspapers continued their support for reservations for people of Kannada origin in the railways and other public-sector undertakings of the central (federal) state, and considered adequate news coverage on these issues as their primary responsibility (although English-language papers never missed reporting them). By the turn of the century, Kannada activists started to demand preferential treatment for Kannadigas in the more visible IT sector in the city. KRV launched an agitation and staged demonstrations before the headquarters of Infosys, a major tech company, in Bangalore to demand preference for Kannadigas in the ancillary service jobs such as security, transport, office administration and food catering within IT companies. KRV blamed these companies for ‘appointing people from Andhra Pradesh for canteen services and North Indians for security services’, neglecting a large number of eligible local Kannada speakers available for these jobs. A series of reports in Prajavani (PV) implicitly supported KRV’s demands by projecting them as the legitimate frame of reference against which the state government and the IT sector had to defend their positions. IT voices were framed as ‘outside’ the legitimate frame of reference, and even softly smirked at, through expressions such as ‘IT companies have changed their tunes’ (raga badalayisive) in the front-page news stories when the tech majors flip-flopped on the issue

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of extending preferential treatment for the local Kannadiga workforce. Headlines in PV and KP raised objections to the state government’s faltering position on the issue and its reluctance to publicly support KRV’s demands, and urged the state officials to draw up a clear policy to favor local Kannadigas to fill ancillary service jobs in the new industries. Among other implications, these demands disrupted the narrative of global city as a developmental goal aimed primarily at unhindered and deterritorialized growth of private enterprise. Similarly, mainstream Kannada dailies showed little hesitation in supporting the state government’s claims to a ‘rightful share’ of Kaveri river water during various crisis moments and disputes with the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu.46 The anti-Tamil rhetoric was especially sharp in the Kannada news dailies during the abduction of Kannada film icon Rajkumar by a Tamil-speaking forest smuggler in 2000 and the Kaveri riots in 1991. On both the occasions, the city of Bangalore became a flashpoint for warring discourses between Kannada speakers and Tamil ‘migrants’, staging violent street protests. These controversies took Kannada identity politics in the city to dangerous levels of antagonism toward the Tamils in the neighboring state and migrant Tamil workers in the city. Mainstream Kannada broadsheets sided with the radical voices of identity politics to demonize and belittle their neighbors. Indeed when a new controversy erupted in 2008, with two riparian states locking horns again over a proposed drinking water project in the Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts of Tamil Nadu,47 Kannada newspapers competed with each other to lay claim to being the first to ‘expose the misdeeds’ of the neighboring state. Many Kannada journalists recalled, in a triumphant tone, their painstaking groundwork behind a series of exclusive stories they filed against the ‘conspiracy of the Tamil Nadu government’ to divert Kaveri water to their territory. A few Kannada newspapers recognized quickly that radical Kannada identity politics and commercial gains were not indeed incompatible. KP, owned by the Indian Express group and later acquired by a BJP parliamentarian-businessman, fashioned an aggressive posture of Kannada identity politics to salvage its sinking fortunes, and gave voice to what was believed to be the simmering frustration of people who felt abandoned by the global utopia of the English-language press and its corporate mentors. ‘Yes, it is paying for us’, a senior editorial member of KP revealed, when I  asked him about their aggressive stance. KP had increased its circulation from 95,444 in 2006 (Round 2, ABC) to 149,964 in 2008 (Round 1, ABC), an increase of 57 percent in less than two years. At the Press Club, groups of Kannada journalists admired KP’s Kannada activism. I heard Kannada journalists praising KP’s heroic

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posture against the Tamils and the ‘English crowd’, whenever I broached the subject of Kannada nad￳u. In one such discussion, Sacha, a senior journalist, exclaimed excitedly: Kannada Prabha is doing a great job! Express group does not belong to Karnataka, but they are sensitive to the needs and problems of the state they operate in. In the Kaveri issue or the demand for reservation for Kannadigas in the Railways, Express group stood by Karnataka. Kannada Prabha has taken up the laudable task of alerting Kannadigas on these issues.

KP was certainly not alone in supporting the cause of the Kannadigas. A  majority of Kannada news dailies portrayed Kannada organizations and their activities positively, and justified this stance by pointing to the more assertive Tamil nationalism and the emerging masculinist Marathi identity politics of Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in the state of Maharashtra. According to several Kannada journalists, Kannada-language movements neither cultivated these assertive stances in the required measure nor did English-language newspapers espouse ‘loyalty for the land’ by supporting these voices. Yet again, Kannada journalists’ embrace of wider Kannada identity politics was mediated by their severe revulsion for the TOI’s news agenda in the city. A senior Kannada news proprietor’s invective against the TOI as a ‘British imperialist paper’ was one of the several similar attacks against the largest circulated English-language daily I encountered in the field: Times of India is a big disease for society. They are Westerners! Their blood is Western! Who started it? The British! We have commitment to language and our region [rajya, subnational state]. They are committed only to advertisements and revenue. Regional papers are not barking dogs. They are biting dogs. There is quick impact. Times of India and other English papers show Karnataka Rakshan￴a V e‫ﷳ‬dike in negative light. We show them in positive light. There may be 20 per cent deficiencies in them [pro-Kannada activists]. Don’t we have drawbacks? Why do you highlight their loopholes alone? If Tamilians or Marathis show their love for language, it is not [negatively framed as] language movement. But if Kannadigas show the same love and commitment, it is derided as language movement!

The aggressive defense of Kannada identity movements, stripped to its essentials, rested on the politics of the insider–outsider binary that was so deep-seated among a section of journalists that they pinned the success of the TOI on Bangalore’s ‘bastardized culture’. The onward march of the TOI thus posed a larger threat to these journalists than the mere commercial success of a rival paper – it embodied the dangers of a deteriorating language and its culture, as a veteran Kannada journalist anxiously described:

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Hyderabad is a far less cosmopolitian city. It is more traditional. Cultural bonds are deeper in Hyderabad and Madras. We are like Bombay. Ours is a bastardized culture. Where are the original Bangaloreans? Our growth pattern shows that Nehru brought large PSUs. Malayalis and Tamilians came here and worked. This was the first thrust towards cosmopolitan culture. We lost out on our cultural roots. Original Bangaloreans in Chamarajpet, Basavanagudi and Malleswaram slowly started losing their identity. Others started taking over. After liberalization, there was a fresh surge of immigrants. IT-BT has no linguistic barrier. Everyone came here. Today IT-BT industries employ more than 3 lakh [300,000] people. They all are high salaried. I believe there are more than a lakh people who earn a lakh per month. Affluence seen in Bangalore is not seen either in Hyderabad and Madras. If you take Times of India to such cities, it will definitely not click. Bangalore was just asking for it. Because there are more migrants and more money, there is less of this ethnicity. The earlier migrant community did not have this kind of money power. They were mostly migrant laborers. They created a lot of slums in Bangalore. They brought a lot of Malayalam and Tamil [sic] into Bangalore. Today we do not know where people are coming from.

If until the mid-1990s, Tamil working-class migrants and the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu were the most common adversaries for Kannada nationalism and its votaries in the news field, the following years also saw a growing resentment against North Indian migrants and the corporate world in general. Within the news field, the common description of the ‘urban other’ was the figure of a ‘corporate guy’ who was most likely to read only the TOI, served by an ‘arrogant English speaking female reporter’. Very often, Kannada and a section of English-language journalists profiled these new migrants as willfully opposed to the cause of Kannada language and its people or, at best, aloof in their gated luxuries. For these journalists, the new migrants were hypocritical on any issues beyond their own personal comfort, including the more fashionable concern over environmental degradation. A young Kannada reporter cynically dismissed the ‘run for a cause syndrome’ that had become popular among the yuppies in the city as yet another instance of techie hypocrisy. Amply sponsored by a range of consumer product companies, these long runs (marathons, half-marathons and 10-kilometer runs) were organized on the main streets of the city or on the outskirts, around agendas of personal fitness, environmental protection and other ‘social cause’ concerns. But rarely did they strike the majority of Kannada journalists as being for an honest cause. At the Press Club, Dhyan Poonacha, a resourceful crime reporter for VK, with great enthusiasm answered the barrage of questions I posed, and praised the city for its latest economic growth that had brought prosperity to him and his fellows, pointing to his shining silk shirt as evidence. However, he turned sharply cynical when he brought up the issue of

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urban environmentalism:  ‘People who run in such events work inside the AC rooms. They are mostly from IT companies. Beyond running on this day, I bet, they don’t do anything for the environment.’ If cynicism about yuppies was common among bhasha journalists, even more common was their personal anguish about ‘North Indian migrants’, who were accused of ‘robbing’ the city of its old-world charm and physical beauty. Some journalists were more meticulous than others in marking the physical, cultural and occupational boundaries of these migrants. H.R. Ranganath, who was the editor of KP when I met him and became editor-owner of a private news channel in later years, described clearly drawn mental maps of the localities in the city, which he believed had already gone ‘into the folds of the North Indians’. A man in his forties, Ranganath was one of the youngest editors in the Kannada press, and known for his fierce columns, editorial acumen and ‘wide knowledge’ about Karnataka. He took up the mantle of leadership in KP from a journalist much senior to himself, but soon tightened his grip over the editorial team, determined to restore the paper to its past glory. Aggressive Kannada politics stemmed from his struggles to lift the paper out of its current state of declining readership as much as his own conviction about rescuing his homeland from the North Indians. He cleverly listed some thumb rules to determine which localities had succumbed to the ‘intrusions’ of North Indians, by pointing to cultural practices such as hanging out clothes for drying on the balcony right in front of the house rather than in the backyard ‘as the localities do’. According to him, it was equally easy to map them occupationally: ‘Today most jewelry traders are from West Bengal, carpenters are from Bihar, tile layers are Rajasthanis, electric workers are from Uttar Pradesh, real estate is also full of North Indians. Today a Kannadiga [native Kannada speaker] feels that Tamilians and Telugu people are better than these North Indians.’ Such closely held sentiments among influential journalists in the Kannada news field resulted in news stories that were at times completely blind to the class issue, and instead played up linguistic identity to trump issues of exploitation. Thus, in December 2008, when there were clashes between construction laborers at a private construction site in the city over drinking water, KP framed it as ‘Bihari Goondaism [strong-arm tactics] over Kannadiga laborers’, adding that ‘this was not the first instance of Bihari menace in the city’ but that they had tried to assault a Kannada woman laborer in the past.48 Issues around working conditions and the gross negligence of large private builders and contractors to provide safe drinking water to these laborers did not figure in any of the discussions on the incident. Instead, the conflict was cast primarily as a clash between ‘helpless

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and docile’ locals versus ‘criminal’ outsiders. Several journalists even deployed mythical-historical accounts to prove that the North Indians did not belong to this land at all, in a strange moment of camaraderie between all South Indians, including Tamils, the ‘erstwhile’ bête noire. Riding pillion on a speeding bike behind a young male journalist on the busy roads of Bangalore – my heart pounding to the sounds of zooming cars and thunderous trucks, and to the anxiety of hitting any of them any time – I heard him saying loudly to me: Oh these North Indians! [scornfully, turning his head toward me on the motorbike and moving his hands in air]. Half the city’s problems are because of the North Indians. They have put the physical infrastructure under stress. They are also responsible for cultural degradation. If you look at it racially [sic] they are foreigners. They are from Central Asia. We are from the Dravidian descent. We are conservative and orthodox in approach. We have a tribal instinct. South India is always regarded as one [entity]. Caste hierarchy and other social problems were only seen in North India. Today Hindu–Muslim clashes in Bangalore are also because of the North Indians.

In the course of our interactions, the journalist became an important interlocutor, and I  soon gathered that he had migrated to Bangalore just a year previously from a small town in Karnataka. He vaunted his small-town status by flashing a Facebook ID with the tag of his home town’s historical name, and carried with him all the deep sentiments attached to the rural as a pristine site of culture and authenticity. Kannada was his mother tongue, but he was now working for an English-language newspaper in Bangalore.

Cultural politics of Kannada

Within the news field, thus, the symbol of Kannada, as a weapon of war, at once embraced all the South Indians to reiterate an aggressive position against North Indian migrants and folded back equally efficiently into its narrower definition of the Kannada linguistic community when water and boundary disputes erupted with the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. If reterritorialization in the narrower sense of boundary-marking was a particular manifestation of Kannada loka, the cultural politics around the reinstitution of ‘territorial codes’, as Deleuze and Guattari define it, was yet another interlinked articulation of Kannada.49 For many journalists, invocation of Kannada implied a sense of cultural richness, which, owing to its contradictory movement, resulted both in bringing the non-English, ‘non-high-tech’ communities of the city within the fold of news visibility as well as spilling out conservative politics, in collusion with the

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Hindu right, as is evident in the case of the Valentine’s Day protests and the Pink Chaddi campaign. In its simplest form, the cultural politics of Kannada resulted in avowedly pursuing and reporting cultural actors and performances from the folk, classical and semi-classical traditions of Indian art and culture, particularly from the local art world, which were often de-emphasized by TOI-style English newspapers.50 An influential Kannada reporter contrasted his reports on Bangalore’s cultural scene with what the English papers reported – ‘rock concerts, guitar and all’. Implicitly, he had declared that the latter did not merit to be called ‘cultural’ in the first place: English journalism does not want our culture. Forget culture, they don’t need anything worthwhile. They only need revenue. I remember Dheerendra Gopal’s play [a popular Kannada cinema and theatre actor]. A journalist comes to him and reports that a girl was run over by a van. Dheerendra Gopal chides him for being naïve and dictates a more sensational headline – ‘blood stains on the skirts of a teenage girl’. This is the state of today’s English journalism. They don’t want anything. They only want revenue, revenue, revenue. People who have come from outside Karnataka are changing our culture.

Completely eliding questions on the growing commercialization and sensationalization of news within the Kannada news media, many Kannada journalists blamed the English-language media for being simultaneously greedy and culturally empty, to suggest that the two were intricately linked to each other within the overall frame of the insider–outsider binary. Several English journalists, on their part, sought to expose the ‘hypocrisy of the Kannada intellectuals who advocated the cause of Kannada on public forums but secretly sent their own children to English medium schools and foreign universities.’ Such cultural wars within the news field, performed through the symbol of Kannada, had a direct bearing on some of the largest cultural events in the city. One such moment arose in 2008 when a controversy broke out around the celebrations of Bengalur u Habba (Bangalore Festival), a culture-fest organized by a private group of artists (Artists’ Foundation for Art). The organization had planned a series of Indian classical music concerts, Western pop concerts, Indian classical dance recitals and plays in English as well as in other Indian languages across the city. Many artists for the events were invited from other states in the country and some from other countries. The cultural event had received state patronage from an earlier, liberalization-friendly regional government, when Bengalur u Habba was pitched as a key event to attract tourists and promote a culturally upscale image for the city to match its ‘high-tech’ status. The event organizers were Padmini Ravi and Nandini Alva, themselves well trained

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in the Indian classical dance form and hailing from politically influential families. In line with its marketing strategies to offer ‘media sponsorship’ for such elite events, the TOI offered free advertisements and wrote generously in its news columns about the event and published program announcements. Bengalur u Habba, however, soon, sparked a controversy. Just a day before the inauguration of the event, the event organizers, along with the Chief Secretary for the state government (the highest-ranking bureaucrat in the state administration) and other government officials, called a press conference at Vidhana Soudha to brief the reporters on various cultural programs planned for the event, and to announce that the Chief Minister would himself inaugurate the event. Perhaps nothing could have been more devastating for the event organizers than the decision to hold a press conference at the official center of state power, with the Chief Secretary on the side. A section of journalists shot back at the event organizers and state authorities with questions about how appropriate it was for the state government to host a press conference at Vidhana Soudha to announce a private cultural event and, more importantly, pledge 2.5 crore rupees (half-a-million USD) of ‘government money’ to the event. Entering into a heated debate with the Chief Secretary and other officials of the local city government present at the conference, the journalists challenged them to provide justification for this exorbitant expenditure and official endorsement for the event. If Deccan Herald, in its next day edition, reported that the scribes confronted the officials on the grounds of ‘squandering taxpayers money when both BBMP [Brihat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike – Bangalore City Corporation] and BDA [Bangalore Development Authority] were facing resource crunch to improve infrastructure facilities’, Kannada reporters debated on the grounds of cultural correctness. Prabhakar, a senior Kannada reporter at VK, who had actively challenged the government’s decision to extend the support, explained furiously: ‘What was scheduled for Bengalur u Habba anyway? Drums, guitar, violin! Who will listen to them?! Only corporate persons need this, that is all! On the other hand, we need Bengalur u Karaga, Kadale‫ﷳ‬kai Parise, An￳amma Utsava. This is how a Kannada reporter thinks.’51 Karaga, Parise and An￳na ￳ mma symbolized the Kannada land, the ‘proper’ cultural expression of the native city. Reluctant to allow their opposition to disappear as pointless diatribes at the press conference, some reporters took it up as a crusade and confronted the MLA (elected member of the legislative assembly) who had supported state sponsorship for the event. The crusade was a secularized An￳na ￳ mma Utsava – both shared the territorial anxieties of a people ‘under siege’ from the ‘outsiders’. Taking their cue from the journalists’ confrontation, KRV soon staged

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a protest to demand the withdrawal of state sponsorship for Bengalur u Habba, burning an effigy of the Chief Secretary before the media crew. The controversy thus flared into public view. Addressing the protestors and the media, T.A. Narayana Gowda, the state unit president of KRV, aggressively stated that the government should not support an event that ‘promoted Western culture when several local theatre and folk artists suffer because of funds crunch’.52 If Kannada papers reported this protest in their editions, it was conspicuous by its absence in the TOI. A section of Kannada journalists persuaded a powerful minister of the ruling government to reconsider and withdraw state sponsorship of the Habba. Sensing trouble, the government canceled the event on the grounds of ‘security’ and revoked its decision to extend financial support for the event. The regional government went so far as to seize the title from the private artists, announcing that the state government would organize the event by the same name, but this time involving local theater and folk artists instead of artists from other states and countries. Pragmatic as it was, the TOI too left the event organizers in the lurch by abruptly ending its media sponsorship, because the editorial team feared that the controversy might eventually show the paper in poor light, sparking the misconception that the government withdrew support because the TOI was involved in it. A month later, an influential political reporter of VK, who played a key role in putting pressure on the government to withdraw its support, recalled the incident as a victory for a rightful cause. This journalist started his career as a newspaper vendor for a salary of 90 rupees a month (two USD) in a provincial town of Karnataka. Soon, he graduated to work in the printing section of a local newspaper which still used the letter press. One day, accidentally, he got an opportunity to cover an event for the paper. Since there was no reporter available at the office to rush to an unexpected event, the chief reporter assigned him the job. His writing skills impressed the chief reporter, and this surprise opportunity launched his journalistic career. He moved to Bangalore city after some years, to work for large Kannada newspapers. Now a seasoned political reporter, he covered party politics with sharp insight. During one of the conversations we had on the VK news floor, he described at length his role in defeating the grand plans of Bengaluru Habba. He was convinced that his news reports on the event had extended the immediate cultural concerns to broader issues of floods and famine, since any financial support for an elite cultural event, according to him, would only have aggravated the government’s apathy for the real troubles ailing the region. As he suggested:

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The Chief Secretary had not called a press conference when several people died in the floods, nor did he call a press conference when large tracts of land dried up due to famine nor when the farmers committed suicide. It is a shame that he had to appear before the media for the sake of Bengalur u Habba. When we were reporting this, we again had the common people in mind. I would say it was wrong for the government to have let them [event organizers] inside Vidhana Soudha.53

This was exactly the line echoed by a four-column article in VK, which challenged the state government with a confrontational headline: ‘Hi-tech Habba [Hi-tech festival] gets state support: How appropriate is it? [oucitya].’ The report accused the Chief Secretary of finding time to attend the Bengalur u Habba press conference ‘even when he finds no time to give a word of consolation [santvana], let alone give compensation, for the farmers who are devastated by the loss of crops such as potato and groundnuts due to famine and floods in various parts of the state’. Curiously, while the flagship product of the Times group gave free advertisements for the event, a section of its sister publication had gone the extra mile to ensure that the state support was withdrawn and the cultural agenda of the event organizers collapsed. Equally curiously, the cultural tenors of the event no longer remained merely ‘cultural’, but provided a means to address agrarian issues in an act of similitude between cultural and agrarian concerns. Although this could also be interpreted as a strategic use of agrarian issues for a conservative cultural agenda, the association by equivalence, in Laclau’s terminology, between agrarian and cultural issues and its effects remained the same. The common adversary in this act continued to be the symbolic bundle of ‘high-tech’ and all the actors who took its side and constituted the image of the ‘global city’.

Kannada’s moments of subalternity

The same common ‘high-tech’ adversary and the notion of ‘Kannada loka’ confronting it struck an equivalence between the rural (as marginal) and sections of the urban population slated to lose out rather than benefit from the ongoing expansion of high-tech global industries and the urban modernity of the consuming classes employed by them. This was enacted through various meanings around Kannada, but the most common invocation in the field of meanings was ‘land’ in its most material form. ‘Land’ had a wide range of complexities associated with it, ranging from the land of the Kannada region inspired by the popular address of KRM and Kannada patriotic songs, to the land owned by small farmers, landed gentry and mighty politicians, and urban plots of land owned or aspired to by the journalists themselves. With the high-tech sector as the expelled

152

Kannada Jagate

other, invocations of land and Kannada invariably implied writing stories in favor of farmers’ right to own their land or bargain for better compensation when there was no choice but to relinquish it for industrial expansion. It was more common among the Kannada papers, for example, to write against the imposition of expensive tolls on the highway of the Bangalore–Mysore Corridor Project, a controversial public–private partnership project to connect Bangalore with the adjoining city of Mysore, or to report on farmers’ demands to build a footbridge at various village junctions criss-crossed by this expressway after acquiring large tracts of fertile land.54 No doubt the actual coverage of the project in both English-language and Kannada papers was more complex, owing to the vested interests of different political leaders and the private infrastructure company that had bagged the contract. Ashok Kheny, a US-based NRI businessman who owned the private infrastructure company, had forged alliances with the powerful regional caste and religious leaders (especially the seers of the Lingayat and Okkaliga monasteries) and sponsored Kannada cinema and cultural activities to ease the nexus between regional forces and global capital.55 As a result of intricate maneuvering of local politics and scathing legal battles between warring parties, news reports across the language spectrum took varying positions on the project, often contradicting their own earlier reports. Despite this ambiguity about the mega-project, editors of major Kannada dailies maintained that they had a clear understanding of the social constituencies they served, and had little doubt about their readers’ expectations from the Kannada papers on the question of land in such controversies. Thus, when land rows broke out at regular intervals within the city and high-tech companies competed to acquire land for expanding their offices, Kannada papers took the side of farmers and wrote extensively on their demands for fair compensation. The conversations I had with Kannada journalists invariably raised this issue, as a way to emphasize their ethical journalistic practice – a mark of difference from the corporate-friendly English-language press. The editor of KP recounted a well-known controversy involving a prominent home-grown software services company: It is true that this company has done a lot of good for our country. It has generated a lot of jobs. Yes, people should salute it for that. But the methodology [sic] that they are using is moving them away from the true people of this country. It is a land hungry company. What they could do within 100 acres, they do it on 500 acres of land. This land has come from an ordinary farmer who loses his land for peanuts. Where will he move now? City cannot give him the same dignified space. Before him are the growing Kube‫ﷳ‬ras [rich person, in Hindu mythology the demi-god of wealth] – the very people who grabbed land from him. This unsettles him. This is already happening across the country – Singur, Nandigram, Devanahalli and the

Kannada’s moments of subalternity

153

outskirts of Bangalore where software companies have their offices. Kannada journalism represents those people who are irritated with the systemic changes.

With several such narratives widely circulating among many Kannada journalists and bhasha-inflected English journalists, I was curious to see if these claims of resistance and difference could be substantiated by a more thorough content analysis of published news reports. I selected the widely publicized Bangalore International Airport (BIA) project as a case study to examine this, and trace, if there were any, Kannada’s moments of subalternity.

Bangalore International Airport

In May 2008, a new international airport, sprawling across 4,045 acres of prime agricultural land on the city outskirts, was formally inducted into the cherished ‘cutting-edge’ landscape of the city of Bangalore. After years of uncertainty over the nature of ownership, source of investment and size of operation, the airport finally inaugurated its commercial operations. It stood unique not only because of its magnificent size and gleaming modern accoutrements, but also for its distinction as the first airport in India to be built on a public–private partnership (PPP) model. After many revisions, consultations and negotiations, a consortium of foreign and domestic companies led by the German-based company, Siemens, won the contract to build the airport initially at a cost of 12 billion rupees (197 million USD), which was estimated to have doubled in 2008.56 The private-sector partners enjoyed a majority stake of 74 percent and stood to gain not only from airport operations but also from large tracts of real estate annexed to the project as part of a constantly changing list of airport expansion plans and business park proposals, including hotels, entertainment joints and a golf course. The remaining 26 percent stake was shared equally between the Government of Karnataka (GoK) and the central government. The GoK contributed primarily in the form of land, by acquiring close to 4,000 acres from over 600 farmer households in the villages around Devanahalli taluk near Bangalore, after invoking the controversial provision of eminent domain in the Land Acquisition Act (1892).57 It was little surprise that Airfinance Journal, an aviation industry publication, hailed the Bangalore International Airport (BIA) project as the ‘Asia Airport Deal of the Year’ in 2008, adding in the same breath of exhilaration that the project had ‘created a model for other airports’ by successfully ‘demonstrating [how] Indian airports can be privately owned’.58 The ‘model airport’ emerged as a metaphor

154

Kannada Jagate

for the aspirations of a world-class city and was now a striking illustration, even as it stood mired in a thick mesh of controversies. When I  started my fieldwork in 2008, much of the heat around the topic had vanished and the newspapers only occasionally reported routine stories on technical snags, flight delays and passenger discomfort at the new airport. The newness of the airport had eroded and the private-sector partnership had settled as an accepted norm, at least among a section of the English-language media. However, the heat had only recently subsided and the debates were still fresh in the narratives of journalists, who very often made references to how the project was covered in various papers and pointed to it as a pivotal case of TOI-led urban activism and a staunch war of difference launched by a section of the Kannada media. Indeed, many Kannada journalists cited the BIA project as evidence for their distinct news agenda that stood in contrast to the ‘shrillness’ of the upper-class urban rhetoric of the TOI and other English-language newspapers. Journalists added that the airport had a symbolic value far exceeding its use as a city infrastructure project. It embodied a ‘successful’ PPP model waiting to be emulated by other cities in post-reform India. Convinced that this project needed detailed examination, I  gathered news reports on the project published in five major newspapers in Bangalore:  three English (the TOI, the New Indian Express [NIE] and The Hindu [TH]) and two Kannada (VK and KP). I organized content analysis of news stories in two parts: first, the frequency of coverage of BIA as a news theme and the frequency of coverage of various themes within this population of news items; and second, the nature of sources accessed and cited in these stories. This was supplemented with qualitative analysis of the content, to map the key arguments, perspectives and frames used by various newspapers. With individual news stories as units of analysis, I measured the frequency with which a particular theme was covered in these papers, by counting the number of stories that mentioned this theme.59 The population of news items related to these topics was large. Therefore, I sampled articles published in 2008 – the year the international airport started its operations.60 The common field of news and its recent emphasis on local urban news shared by English and Kannada media, discussed in Chapter 3, was evident in the fact that newspapers across the language divide considered the project to be a relevant topic for news coverage. No newspaper ignored its significance, not only because it was a large project involving hundreds of acres of land and massive capital, but also because newspapers referenced each other for informational cues as they together covered common press conferences and deployed their staff for ‘special stories’. However, the

Table 4.1. Frequency of BIA-related themes discussed in newspapers (2008) Content themes Total frequency of all theme units BIA infrastructure and business Connectivity Passenger facilities at BIAL Fee (user development charges, etc.) Project updates Retaining HAL Industry- and passenger-related (total) Percentage of total count of themes (industry) Land acquisition, farmers’ woes, compensation Percentage of total count of themes (farmers) Jobs for local Kannadigas Renaming of BIA after Kempegowda, learning Kannada Kannada renaming and Kannadiga (total) Percentage of total count of themes – Kannada-related Others Corruption, transparency Security Public/private status

TOI 125 13 35 12 14 10 22 106 85

TH 103 18 19 20 5 11 15 88 85

NIE 112 31 12 20 9 4 23 99 88

All Eng. 340

293 86

2 1.6 2 2

4 4 2 2

2 1.8 1 4

8 2.5

4 3.2

4 3.8

5 4.4

13 3.8

2

2

1

4 3

3 1

3 0

VK

KP

All Kan.

31 2 3 4 4 1 5 19 61

64 1 7 7 7 10 12 44 68

5 16 3 3

6 9 5 6

6 19.3

11 17 1

1

1 1

95

63 64 11 12.5

17 18

Kannada Jagate

156 Kan. avg. KP VK

Industry/Passengers

Eng. avg.

Farmers Kannada/Kannadiga

TH NIE TOI 0

20

40

60

80

100

120

Figure  4.1 Difference in the coverage of BIA themes (percentage of total frequency of theme units) (2008)

most striking difference between the English papers and the Kannada papers was in the volume of coverage extended to BIA-related stories. An online search of the TOI database gave a search result of 820 stories, a manual search in TH and NIE fetched 84 and 89 stories, while VK and KP published 21 and 41 stories each in 2008 (Table  4.1).61 Kannada journalists pointed out that the issue was less important for them because a large majority of their readers would not use the airport anyway. ‘But the English papers covered it as a life and death issue’, a senior Kannada journalist remarked sharply. No doubt there was much variation even among the English-language papers and some overlaps between the Kannada and English newspapers, but the differences were clearly evident in what the papers considered as important issues related to BIA and, consequently, what amount of news space they deserved (Figure 4.1). I will summarize three important themes: Theme 1  – ‘Brand Bangalore’: Coverage of BIA issues in the TOI diverged little from its hard-boiled editorial policy to support the private sector and boost ‘Brand Bangalore’ as a signpost of the ‘resurgent post-liberalized India’. The volume of BIA coverage in the TOI far exceeded other papers in English and Kannada, and the content reflected industry voices in its framing, size and display. There were significant overlaps between the sponsored supplement Times Property and

Kannada’s moments of subalternity

157

the main sheet, with a large number of stories emphasizing the urgency and symbolic significance of the airport. In one edition, Times Property interviewed Harish Bijoor, brand consultant and one of the key celebrity commentators for the TOI, to emphasize that the international airport was critical in generating a good first impression of the city for the business community and fostering ‘Brand Bangalore’. The paper published verbatim his description of Bangalore as a strong brand that embodies ‘value that is rich in its ability to leverage bigger and bigger investments into the city – investments in terms of money, infrastructure and people’.62 The sponsored content in Times Property went so far as to speculate that property values in North Bangalore would go up once the airport project took off, echoing the real estate industry’s flash lines on ‘high growth quarters’, ‘vibrancy of the realty mart’, ‘redefining growth paradigms’ and so on, to directly link BIA with escalation in property values. On the main sheet, a sense of urgency and momentum around BIA was maintained by regularly featuring young college-going readers and industry experts with colorful photographs accompanying short quotations on their anxieties and excitement about the project. As Table  4.1 suggests, despite some variation in the frequency of specific themes, all the English-language papers devoted a large portion of their print space to stories related to the business community or upper-middle-/middle-class air passengers. These themes included the business and infrastructure issues of BIA; the quantum of the user development fee; project updates; and demands to retain the old HAL airport in the city alongside the new airport so that the business community and upper-middle-class travelers could have the option of choosing between the airports and commute the long distance to the new airport only for long-haul flights. Together, stories on industry and passenger concerns about the airport constituted 85% of the total frequency of themes cited in the TOI’s BIA stories. It was 85% and 88% respectively for TH and NIE, averaging 86% for all the three English newspapers. In VK and KP, the volume of passengerand business-related stories on BIA stood at 61% and 68%. Theme 2 – Connectivity: Of all the issues discussed concerning BIA, connectivity stood out as the most frequently cited problem in the English-language media. Since the new airport was on the outskirts of the city, these papers projected the poor state of roads and lack of train connectivity as a major concern for the air passengers. The TOI carried long articles with infographics, pictures and detailed accounts of the multiple plans to widen existing roads or construct new connecting roads to the airport. Point-by-point accounts of the government’s decisions on this issue were presented with evocative headlines such as ‘Connectivity

158

Kannada Jagate

Blues’ and ‘Big C’. KP, on the other hand, carried a story on the alleged corruption of an influential family of politicians to change the route of the expressway, citing middle-class and farmer communities who were slated to lose land for the new route for the highway, even though on various occasions it borrowed the frame of ‘hurdles’ to raise concerns over bad road connectivity to the new airport. This frame received a boost through judicial intervention, when the High Court expressed its ‘disappointment’ with the slow pace of progress on connectivity projects and recommended that the older HAL airport should be retained until connectivity was fully addressed. All the English newspapers covered the court’s intervention, and vigorously debated various options such as a metro train, high-speed rail link, dedicated expressway, special air-conditioned public buses and widened roads to help private transport to reach the new airport. BM went a step further and led a full-blown campaign to raise alarm over the connectivity issue. Using the localized pun ‘Devanayelli’ as the title for the campaign (yelli is ‘where’ in Kannada, playing on halli – village and yelli), the paper gave a detailed account of the progress and delays in the efforts to connect the city with the new airport, weighing and assessing various connectivity options. The campaign culminated in a panel discussion among senior bureaucrats of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, bureaucrats of the state infrastructure department and representatives of private-sector industry. Connectivity coverage was significantly low in VK. Despite some variation among the three English newspapers – aggressive campaigning for the private sector in the TOI and BM, relative irreverence for state power as well as corporate power in the NIE, greater reliance on governmental sources in TH – and some overlaps with KP, the emphasis on the perspectives of industry and air passengers was considerably higher in the English newspapers than in the two Kannada papers. Theme 3  – Land acquisition and Kannada: Journalists across the language divide shared the opinion that it was not the business community and air passengers alone who had interests in BIA  – the project had affected close to 600 farmer households due to large-scale land acquisition by the state. Local development decisions of such magnitude entail, in Timothy Gibson’s words, an inevitable renegotiation of ‘the inherent tension between experiencing urban space as a resource for everyday life and viewing space as a resource for accumulation and profit’.63 The BIA project betokened crises for many local communities, finding expression through a range of politically mobilized groups. There were Kannada activist groups with sets of demands clustered around and mobilized through a closely knit matrix of Kannada and local employment. If Kannada associations demanded job reservations for local people in the airport, a section of Kannada and caste associations urged the

Kannada’s moments of subalternity

159

government to name the airport after Kempegowda (a warrior-chieftain under the Vijayanagara Kingdom in the sixteenth century who is credited with founding the city of Bengaluru).64 Farmers bargained for better compensation for their lost land, and middle-class residents opposed a proposed new expressway to the new airport to save their residential properties along the route. Politicians alleged substandard work at the airport. While many stories in the TOI and other English-language newspapers carried these competing frames, what differed significantly was the volume and visibility of the stories. VK and KP covered farmers’ demands and the reterritorializing efforts of ‘Kannada’ more frequently and extensively (an average of 30% of the total count of themes) compared to the TOI, which mentioned these competing voices in strikingly shorter stories than the industry perspectives and also less frequently (5%).65 NIE was close to the TOI (6%) while TH’s more frequent and better-displayed stories on farmers’ issues (4%); with other Kannada related issues (8%) were overshadowed by a large number of stories with industry and passenger perspectives (including when they were channeled through the judicial and bureaucratic sources) (Table 4.1). Newspapers in the two languages were also sharply divided in their approach to covering the issues of land acquisition, compensation and livelihood options for the farmers. Alongside a small number of farmer stories, English papers were active in advising their middle-class readers on how best to benefit from the BIA projects through smart investments in land and equity. The NIE cautioned middle-class land buyers to make investment choices around BIA only after the final blueprint of the master plan is released. Similar caution was relayed by TH, which urged middle-class buyers to verify the credentials of land developers promising residential layouts around the new airport. However, there was also a story in NIE on how the farmers, addressed in the story as ‘land losers’, were given ‘petty jobs with paltry salaries’, the most common being that of security guard. The story, shared by its sister publication in Kannada (KP), cited many farmers, sympathizing with their grievances against the airport authorities and the state government on unfulfilled promises of ‘decent jobs’ and adequate compensation. The story was written by a senior reporter at NIE who had recently migrated from a Kannada publication. TH carried a story with an image of two aged women from the villages where people had lost their land to the BIA project, with a detailed report to capture their grievances and feelings for the lost village. Capped with a touching headline – ‘People around Devanahalli mourn lost land, livelihood:  Displaced from their villages, many are rendered penniless’ – the story gave details on the relocation plans, crop losses and the financial burden on the farmers to build new houses on sites granted by the government as compensation. When fresh

160

Kannada Jagate

notifications to acquire additional land (over 850 acres) for the hardware technology park and the Special Economic Zone for the aerospace cluster near BIA were issued in April 2008, TH cited the newly formed Raita Horata Samiti, a grassroots association of affected farmers, to note that nearly 500 families of small and marginal farmers would be displaced due to land acquisition. The association’s demands for a share in the developed land (9,600 square feet per every acre lost) and a compensation package at the market prices were promptly covered.66 Within ten days, the TOI published a story on the same issue by framing it as a ‘familiar roadblock of delayed land acquisition’, subtly ventilating the restlessness of private-sector investors. When the state agency increased the compensation amount for further acquisition for the hardware park project around the airport, Raita Horata Samiti demanded 30  million rupees (490,000 USD) per acre as cash compensation. In its report, the TOI portrayed the conveners of farmers’ associations as ‘sticking to their demand’, implying that they were being unfairly adamant. In its less-than-flattering portrayal, the TOI, in another story, profiled two farmers who had benefited from the huge sums of compensation in exchange for their ancestral land around BIA. Under the headline ‘Reaping Crores’, the TOI surveyed key industrial projects across the country in which farmers were compensated with handsome packages: ‘Land meant everything to the Indian farmer, now it means big bucks. As large swathes of farmland turn into prime real estate, instant crorepatis are sprouting across the countryside.’ Among the sampled stories, there was just one news feature published on the first page of the TOI that presented the farmers’ perspective on the project on its own terms. VK took up the case of farmers with much rigor, devoting full pages to report their efforts to forge organized protests against unilateral land acquisition. Many stories referred to the groundswell of discontent among aggrieved farmers, who poured out their anguish over industrial policies of the state government. Captivating headlines such as ‘har ida vimana han￴akkagi raita hairan￴a’ (airplanes soar, farmers despair) capped the stories, to reveal the plight of farmers and their agonizing wait for compensation money. The stories gave details of the rise of middlemen and real estate agents, who obstructed the flow of compensatory benefits to aggrieved farmer families. Citing the difficulties of procuring land records, stories noted that several farmers, who had no knowledge of adequate land papers, did not get any compensation, since they could not produce relevant documents before the local authorities. Reporters visited the villages where the state agency had constructed relocation sites, and filed detailed reports on poor services and problems with drinking water in these sites. A  year before the new airport

Kannada’s moments of subalternity

161

was inaugurated, Sudarshan Channagihalli, a young political correspondent of VK, visited the affected villages to report farmers’ strategies of protest and demands advanced by grassroots farmers’ organizations. These stories were carried as part of a special series called ‘Avalokana’ (Inspection)  – a full-page feature with informational reports, graphics, box texts, interviews and pull quotes. The title of the feature directly challenged the rationale behind acquiring fertile agricultural land for industrial projects: ‘Rokkada gidakke‫ﷳ‬ke be‫ﷳ‬ku sarada bhumi?’ – Why does a money plant need fertile land? Money-plant climber stood as a metaphor for industrial projects, signifying the ‘vacuous’ money-making impulse of these projects and their rapid growth. The article strongly argued that industrial projects should not be planned on fertile land, since 788,100 hectares of barren land and 1,325,211 hectares of land unsuitable for agriculture were available in the state for industrial expansion (in 2007). Citing a report from an investigative committee appointed by the legislature, the story raised alarm over the encroachment of more than 40,000 acres of government-owned land in Bangalore’s urban and rural areas. Scathing in its remarks, the special feature questioned the efficacy of the state government’s decision to hand over acquired land to private developers, instead of developing the land through its own agencies. Provocative in its tone, the feature linked these issues with Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal  – sites of massive peasant protests against state-led land acquisition in liberalizing India – and anticipated that the current controversy in the state could flare up into similar full-blown farmer agitation. The various demands of the farmers’ organizations, including fair compensation, a share of the developed land and employment for one member of each aggrieved family, were listed as legitimate demands meriting urgent attention from the state. At the same time, the special feature highlighted the pitfalls of the sudden rush of compensation money into farmer families who lacked the skills to effectively manage their one-off financial compensation for long-term sustenance. Thus, the special news feature implicitly stressed the need for long-term support systems to ensure that the farmers who had lost their land and livelihood regained their dignity of living and comfort on a sustainable basis. Sympathetic legislators, farmers and representatives of state-level and grassroots farmers’ associations were widely quoted in the feature. The particular success of the feature was evident when the correspondent received the Charaka award for progressive journalism from an NGO active in development communication. Awards like Charaka gained valence within the journalistic field, since they entered the journalistic imagination as instances of successful resistance and contestation to the unilateral development policies of the state and corporate power.

162

Kannada Jagate

If the difference in framing and volume of stories was prominent, a related difference was in the news sources accessed for BIA-related stories. English papers relied more on BIAL authorities (17%), high-tech industry (7.4%) and bureaucrats of the central government (15%), compared to Kannada papers (10.5%, 1% and 8%). The differences were sharper in citing the political class (9.7% in English and 37.5% in Kannada), farmers and farmers’ associations (3.6% in English and 11% in Kannada) and pro-Kannada organizations and caste associations (3% in English and 12.5% in Kannada) (see Table 4.2). Barring significant convergence in accessing sources from the judiciary and some overlaps in the smaller volume of sources drawn from airport laborers and urban civil society, the differences in the access of news sources revealed that the key areas of disputes in the project received dissimilar, and often competing, frames of coverage in the English-language and Kannada press. This difference framed the debate as a contestation between the private industries on the one hand, and publics assembled under the symbolic rubric of Kannada and caste on the other. ‘Kannada publics’ included not only farmers but also the local Kannadiga workforce, politically influential intermediary caste groups, middle-class Kannada litterateurs, regional politicians and local bureaucrats. The significance of this contestation became evident when the quantum of compensation money was raised from a meager 500,000 rupees per acre (8,000 USD) in the early stages of the project to 5.5 ­million rupees (90,000 USD) in the later years, pushing the compensation package closer to the market value. Senior representatives of farmers’ associations told me that they cited reports in the Kannada papers during their negotiations with state authorities, describing how these reports were particularly useful in raising their ability to bargain with the state. An office bearer of Raita Hōrata Samiti showed me a thick file in which he had carefully cut and pasted the Kannada newspaper clips on the airport project. He said he always carried this file when he met bureaucrats in the city. As the project progressed, these associations also succeeded in procuring a share in the developed land and guaranteed jobs for one member of each family losing land for the project. Despite vigorous advocacy of farmer causes in VK and occasional references to these issues within a section of the English-language press, the differences in approach did not go beyond the immediate concerns of distinct readership segments or the habitus of Kannada journalists who remained close both to the political class and their own agrarian and landed class background. The primacy of land, formal politics and caste in the Kannada news ideologies obscured from view the issue of landless laborers (with the exception of one story in TH among sampled

Kannada’s moments of subalternity

163

Table 4.2. Frequency of citing various news stories (BIA stories 2008)

Total number of ­stories analyzed Citation frequency BIAL authorities Industry ­representatives (high-tech) Airlines, fashion, hotel and other private industries Bureaucrats – state and local bodies Bureaucrats – central and public-sector agencies Ruling government (­ministers, etc.) – state and center Politicians (opposition parties) Farmers and farmers’ associations Pro-Kannada ­organizations and caste associations Middle-/ upper-middle-class passengers High Court, Supreme Court Reporters’ own ­experience and assessments Workers – HAL, AAA, BIAL Urban civil society, academia

TOI

TH

NIE

VK

KP

96

84

89

21

41

18 17

22 8

25 4

3 0

6 1

8

5

5

1

2

18

15

11

4

5

19

19

20

1

7

8

5

5

2

7

7

8

6

3

6

5

5

3

4

4

4

5

2

4

6

11

22

13

4

0

5

11

10

2

5

7

5

0

0

1

1

1

3

1

1

3

3

4

0

1

news stories). The landless subalterns, therefore, benefited neither from the celebratory discourse of world-class infrastructure, nor from the language-inflected news ideologies of Kannada journalists. The coverage of the project, despite the limits of the Kannada media’s practices of difference, may appear to be an archetypical case of a polarized discourse peddled by the bilingual news media about the city, and

Table 4.3. Percentage of source citations to total citations (BIA stories 2008)

BIAL authorities Industry representatives (high-tech) Airlines, fashion, hotel and other private industries Bureaucrats – state and local bodies Bureaucrats – centre and public-sector agencies Ruling government (ministers, etc.) – state and center Politicians (opposition parties) Farmers and farmers’ associations Pro-Kannada organizations and caste associations Middle-/upper-middle-class passengers High Court, Supreme court Reporters’ own experience and assessment Workers – HAL, AAA, BIAL Urban civil society and academia

TOI

TH

NIE

All Eng.

VK

KP

All Kan.

14 13

16 6

22 3.6

17.3 7.53

10 0

11 2

10.5 1

6

4

4.5

4.83

3

4

3.5

14

11

10

11.7

14

10

12

14

14

18

15.3

3

13

8

6

4

4

4.67

41

13

27

5 4 3

6 4 4

5 3 2

5.33 3.67 3

10 14 14

11 8 11

10.5 11 12.5

8

16

12

12

14

0

7

4 5

8 4

9 0

7 3

7 0

10 2

8.5 1

0.7 2

0.7 2

3 3.6

1.47 2.53

3 0

2 2

2.5 1

Kannada’s moments of subalternity

165

thus sharper than other topics that may suggest greater fluidity and convergence between English and Kannada print news. While this objection is certainly valid, BIA coverage in the newspapers suggests that the ruptures in the city discourse in the bilingual news media became prominently visible and strikingly confrontational in large-scale projects such as this. With an acute feeling among the older journalists of deteriorating journalistic standards and sharp cynicism among the younger scribes about the hypercommercial cannibalistic media under which their own ‘praxeological agency’ was seen to be under threat, the ideological task of keeping close ties between land, marginalized urban publics, rural problems and Kannada became even more pronounced for a section of Kannada journalists.67 In many ways, Kannada gave a symbolic forum to articulate these concerns as inter-related, relevant and deserving of media visibility. At the same time, a section of Kannada identity politics, with significant overlaps with media practices as evident in the Bengalur u Habba and BIA controversies, had itself begun to publicize these problems, drawing on the language–land–community matrix centering on Kannada. Karnataka Raksan￴a Ve‫ﷳ‬dike, for example, stationed itself at every site of urban controversy when the interests of global or local capital collided with those of marginal daily wage or contract laborers, and mediated in many disputes between these groups to secure better wages and working conditions. This was evident in the case of garment workers in the industrial township of Peenya and cab drivers serving multinational companies as contract laborers.68 In a conversation, Mallige, a gender rights activist in Bangalore, described KRV and other Kannada organizations as ubiquitous mediators in urban conflicts. In the Peenya incident, Mallige and other gender rights activists had stormed garment factories to demand better working conditions and wages for female garment workers. However, before they could confront the factory owners, the workers had approached Dalita Sangharsa Samiti (Forum for Dalit Movement) and KRV, since the workers believed these organizations would be more effective in negotiating with the factory owners than the secular and more ‘feminine’ gender rights groups.69 In the context of eroding organized left politics in the region, KRV launched several small labor unions for specific labor groups, including unorganized medical shopkeepers, weavers, gold/silver traders, garment workers, autorickshaw drivers, taxi drivers, lawyers, fruit vendors and hawkers, as well as small-scale industrialists. They held demonstrations to demand ‘Below Poverty Line’ (BPL) cards for the garment workers, just as they went around the state to demand relief for flood victims, assert Karnataka’s right in border disputes with the neighboring states or protest against the hegemony of Hindi.70 In KRV’s public discourse, rights of local

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Kannada Jagate 30 All English

25

All Kannada

20 15 10 5

Urban civil society, Academia

Workers – HAL, BIAL

Reporters’ own experience

High Court, Supreme Court

Upper middle class....

Pro-Kannada org. and Caste...

Politicians (opp. parties)

Farmers and Farmers’ assc.

Ruling govt. – state and centre

Bureucrats – central and PSUs

Bureaucrats – state and local

Airlines, Fashion and Hotel

Industry (high-tech)

BIAL authorities

0

Figure  4.2 Differences in the news sources accessed between English-language and Kannada newspapers (%), BIA stories (2008)

Kannadigas to secure private-sector and public-sector jobs in Bangalore were co-extensive with the rights of farmers to save their land against industrial acquisition around the city. Rumors were rife that KRV struck deals with the capitalist class every time such a conflict broke out, to amass wealth, or, much worse, blackmailed them with their strong-arm tactics to incite these conflicts. Journalists themselves often described the organization as Karnataka Bhaksan￴a Ve‫ﷳ‬dike (‘Forum to gobble up money rather than protect Karnataka’) and not Karnataka Raksan￴a Ve‫ﷳ‬dike. Some of them completely blocked news coverage for the Ve‫ﷳ‬dike, blaming its dubious politics. Other pro-farmer organizations such as Raita Horata Samiti (Organization for Farmers’ Struggle) were skeptical of KRV’s intentions. In a long conversation, a senior office-bearer of the organization took pains to show that the benefits accrued to farmers from Vedike’s protests were meager. Many Kannada journalists nevertheless stuck to their belief that such organizations were needed to protect the interests of Kannadigas and the marginalized class groups, because, as the editor of a large newspaper piquantly reasoned: ‘you encourage a devil [like KRV] when you have no option to turn to.’

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Alongside KRV, Kannada journalists enthusiastically reported the activities of Karnataka Raita Sangha (Karnataka Farmers’ Association), a key pro-farmer organization in the state that had led agitations against multinational companies like Kentucky and Monsanto to protect the interests of local farmers in the late 1990s. Kannada papers portrayed its leaders as legitimate representatives of their news publics, regularly flagging the concerns of the farming community represented by such organizations in their editions. Prajavani continued its special weekly supplements for farmers (Krishi Puravani) even when papers like VK had stopped them, while other Kannada papers like Udayavani did not find it ‘off-trend’ to write about farmer suicides or on migrant agricultural laborers in the city.71 Many in Udayavani attributed this to the efforts of Dr Poornima, a seasoned journalist leading the paper as the editor, and her thorough grounding in Kannada literature. As the only female editor in the Kannada print news field, Poornima appeared regularly in several public forums to raise her voice against ‘globalization’ and growing corporate control of the news media. In one of the early interviews during my fieldwork, she shared her concerns on how journalism had been evolving in recent years, lamenting the growing interference of advertising executives in editorial decisions. This, she asserted, had strengthened her commitments to the land and language (nadu ￳ -nud￳i), describing how her responsibilities for the ‘Kannada loka’ translates into news practices in the city: Most journalists feel that Bangalore’s problems are only with its flyovers. They may be a problem for the IT crowd who are 20 per cent of the city’s population [sic],72 but what about agricultural laborers who have migrated here? There is a sizeable population of such laborers in Bangalore. Who listens to their woes?

Quite often, ‘land’ conveyed ideas of ecologically rich soil for the Kannada reporters, who emphasized their genuine feelings for ‘tigers and ants that inhabit the soil’ and expressed repulsion for a city that had no soil or vegetation. Yet again, the apathy of English papers to these closely held sentiments around land and the farming community was shown to be in striking contrast to their own commitment to ‘mother nature’. In one of the discussions at the Press Club, a young Kannada journalist lashed out: Show me stories on sugarcane issue, water problem or bad roads in the rural areas in the English papers! Kannada papers carry such stories and include grievances even in the V acakara V an￴i [Letters to the Editor]. English papers write about bad eyebrows. They will have booked a corporate doctor to give advice on how to keep the eyebrows in shape, how to color the nails and so on. They write stories about affairs between celebrities or do some such mischief and spoil their peace of mind. We don’t find this in our Kannada papers. Times of India publishes photos of women whom I cannot even identify. Even as a journalist, I don’t know which country she comes from or what language she speaks!

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At times, these self-narratives relied on sweeping generalizations or exaggerated statements on journalistic virtuosity, closely tied to ideas of Kannada virtuosity. Many of these stories on the poor and the marginalized sections of society failed to get published in the proportion envisaged by the journalists, at a time when Kannada journalists did not indeed remain untouched by the cultural splendor of globalization reflected in the shopping malls, revived Kannada cinema, expanding private entertainment television and FM radio.73 However, the experiential salience of meanings associated with Kannada and Kannada publics ensured that the ‘non-high-tech’ sections of the city and the rural areas were regularly brought into the remit of media visibility. By sheer habit or explicit intent, Kannada journalists continued to cover public demonstrations and rallies by municipal sanitary workers (pourakar mika), anganavad￳i workers (pre-nursery teachers in government schools), cooks employed by the government for the midday meal scheme, school teachers, bus drivers, autorickshaw drivers, farmers, agricultural laborers, government employees, petty traders and other occupational communities, and yoked them together as legitimate Kannada publics, through the equivalential performance of ‘Kannada’ as a signifier. Often, these stories were played down, if not completely erased, in the TOI and other English-language newspapers with aggressive pro-market models.74 The difference between the Kannada papers and TOI-style papers was equally striking in terms of imagining the age of their readership. Although there was commercial pressure to cater to the young readers, Kannada journalists not only continued to have a close association with the older generation of Kannada intellectuals, but they also more consciously involved a general population of senior citizens in their news planning. For instance, Udayavani’s new column, Uttarayan￴a (the sun’s course north of the equator, but figuratively the second half of the human lifespan), was planned as an exclusive column to highlight the lives and challenges of senior citizens by publishing stories on pension plans, health and astrology. Most strikingly, the sweep of ‘the Kannada self’ at times included workers who did not fit the conventional definition of Kannada publics: for example, migrant laborers from other states. Thus, when construction laborers died on a construction project of a large private builder, the English papers hesitated to directly implicate the builder or publish its name to avoid antagonizing its key advertisers. Kannada papers found it easier to sympathize with the laborers by openly naming and challenging the builder. In many of these instances, the conservative tone of language nationalism had yielded to the symbolic performance of ‘Kannada’ as a

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language of protest. If ‘the local’ is always ‘newly different differences’,75 it was very much evident in these moments when Kannada instantiated equivalential relations between various demands and claims, by explicitly referencing the supralocal discourses riding at this moment on global capital as well as turning to its own sedimented histories. These claims referred to issues of property ownership of the landed middle class and farmers, but also to the substantive cultural-political rights and the broad-ranging ‘use value claims that constitute the right to the city’ where groups demanded the ‘right not to be excluded’.76 Conclusion In conclusion, it might be useful to return to the ‘citizen agenda’ campaign organized by VK and the TOI with which this chapter began. Consistent with its focus on city infrastructure and industry experts, the TOI had set the agenda well before the readers’ demands started arriving via email and telephone, declaring on the very first day of the campaign that ‘Many infrastructure schemes have got entangled in red tape, lethargy, indifference, or simply, lack of vision.’ The paper added: ‘Indeed, that’s why the citizens must prepare a wishlist.’77 It was not surprising that the final ‘wishlist of the citizens’ mirrored the same concerns: ‘Bad roads, irregular water supply, clogged drains, chaotic traffic, land encroachment, rising pollution’, and also healthcare, state corruption and security that affected the urban middle class and private industries.78 The campaign, in this sense, was consistent with the mode of patterned permeations (Chapter 2). This time, the campaign went a step further in its city agenda and demanded a separate minister for the city.79 The final wishlist was handed to the Chief Minister at a public meeting organized by the state government at NIAS, my home institute in the city during my doctoral studies, with all the ‘stakeholding’ civic agencies ready with their reports and vision for the city. VK, on the other hand, reserved for itself a broader sweep of ‘Kannada Nadu ￳ ’ (Kannada land/country/nation) as its news territory. Consequently, the citizen charter prepared by the paper reflected this broader remit. Although they operated within the market cartography drawn up by the management, VK journalists set the terms for the wishlist through their own understanding of what ailed the region and its people. A special team within the editorial department was set up in Bangalore and across the district bureaus to execute the campaign. In striking contrast to the TOI’s emphasis on clogged drains and chaotic traffic ailing the city’s residents, VK’s list of demands included problems related to drinking water across the state, the inter-state border dispute between Karnataka

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and Maharashtra, regional imbalance (developmental disparities between northern and southern parts of the state as well as within these subregions), public health services, primary education, infrastructure and tourism, and the pending industrial projects of the state government. The final list of demands on agriculture was longer than the other lists, and covered a range of issues including features on advanced farming equipment, fixing appropriate prices for agricultural produce, education on agriculture at primary schools, rainwater harvesting, organic farming, insurance for farmers, IT benefits for the farming community and a comprehensive agricultural policy, among others. In contrast to the TOI’s emphasis on private educational institutes, VK highlighted the problems ailing public schools and demanded better-quality education in rural and state-owned schools, especially those in the less developed regions of the state. One whole page was indeed devoted to the problems facing the capital city of Bangalore. The list of priorities for the city had significant overlaps with the TOI and other mainstream publications:  road infrastructure, water supply, garbage collection and other sanitary conditions. However, there was also a firm demand to conduct elections for the city administrative body (BBMP) and demands to build cemeteries, bus bays and playgrounds for children, and to regulate illegal layouts – issues directly relevant for the middle- and lower-middle-class readers. The campaign did not miss drawing attention to the newly emerging large residential complexes in the city. Derisively naming these apartments ‘Kirikiri apartment’ (troublesome apartments), the report squarely blamed them for causing inconvenience to the city residents, implicitly marking them as the (expelled) ‘other’. These expensive apartment complexes were largely occupied by high-tech migrants from other states in India. The feature story revealed, in a tone of anxious caution, that the number of apartments was growing at a rapid pace, and demanded greater regulation in provisioning water and power to these ‘migrant hot-spots’. Through sets of demands ranging from agrarian concerns to public schools, and regional developmental disparity to (nuanced) regional chauvinism, the campaign strikingly illustrated the unstable and protean career of Kannada news politics. If the language–community–land matrix of Kannada simultaneously constricted and expanded the scope of who counted as legitimate news publics for the journalists, the expelled IT/ high-tech/urban publics and their assumed deterritorializing global modernity shaped an equally contradictory emptiness to Kannada as a signifier. In other words, both conservative alliances and pro-farmer and pro-poor sensibilities were made possible by the fleeting, yet historically shaped, constellation of meanings and demands clustering around Kannada.

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Incomplete market surveys of Kannada readership and the market rationality of distinct readership deepened this heterogeneity and confusion, just as the social background of Kannada journalists cemented the close ties between Kannada, rural communities, urban subalterns and formal politics. As mentioned in the previous chapter, a large majority of Kannada journalists were first-generation migrants to the cities, who had left behind their farming families in the village. Although many of them had urban experience early in their lives, Bangalore was still a new place, which overwhelmed them as strange, vacuous and culturally degraded. Often, the village offered them ‘a counterpoint to the city’.80 Although they had migrated to the city, many of them strongly resisted equating their status with ‘outside migrants’. Neither did they recognize in themselves the presumed cultural preferences of the ‘outsiders’. Many journalists pointed out that it was more difficult for the Kannada journalists to do Page  3 journalism because of their background in agriculture or public university education. The Kannada news field and a section of the older English-language news field still revealed the remnants of farmers’ movements, student movements and regional theater movements, in which many journalists had actively participated as university students. The older generation of journalists nostalgically invoked the socialist and left-leaning ideologies of the mid-1970s and 1980s that had ‘inspired a generation of journalists to take interest in pro-farmer reforms and Gokak agitation [language movement]’.81 Although these sentiments were slowly eroding as the commercial ethos took hold, they nevertheless remained as marks of ‘suture’ shaping the habitus of the journalists.82 While at the same time, the very same habitus also considered KRV as a necessary evil, the migrant population as illegitimate residents of the city and landless laborers as invisible subjects. If the ‘burden of expression of Kannadaness’83 and the thematic grid of Kannada cemented by the habitus of the bhasha journalists mediated their imaginings of readers in these contradictory ways, it was also a more direct weapon of war in the hands of Kannada journalists within their own community. It was here that the invoked meanings of Kannada overlapped significantly with caste practices, to shape news cultures that consciously subverted, inadvertently confounded or simply remained blind to the neoliberal precepts of TOI-style journalism and the urban-global-modern discourse co-created by them. In the next chapter, I look closely at the intermeshing of caste practices with news production in Bangalore, and how this is inflected by a longer history of the non-Brahmin movement in the princely state of Mysore.

5

‘Journalists are pimps’: A triangulated axis of caste, language and politics

‘It was Hari1 who sent Siddaramiah to Congress Party’, revealed many voices in the news field to me in hushed whispers and with concealed excitement. Some had smug looks, dismissing Hari’s adventures with studied haste. If some envied his clout, others blamed him for instigating a dirty caste war among journalists. But whenever I asked questions on the nexus between politicians and journalists, or mentioned ‘caste’ in a throwaway line, journalists were quick to narrate Hari’s story. It was the story of a salaried, middle-class, print journalist with moffusil roots assiduously shaping the career of Siddaramiah, a mighty political leader in the region. Hari, the chief editor of a leading Kannada daily, used his knowledge of politics and proximity to the political class to help Siddaramiah in his strategic maneuvers in formal politics, until the latter took a risky leap in his political career to end his long association with Janata Dal (regional political party) and abandon the ambitions of fostering an independent party to join the mightier and older Indian National Congress. Many viewed this as a suicidal move since Siddaramiah was sure to be sidelined by the older and more powerful leaders of the Congress party and it was very unlikely for a newcomer in an established political party to gain clout in quick time. By journalists’ account, through all these precarious and tactical moves, Siddaramiah was fully supported (or misguided) by the suggestions and strategic networking of Hari, who, among other things, had brokered Siddaramiah’s entry into the Congress party.2 In no uncertain terms, a senior Kannada news proprietor bluntly called journalists like Hari ‘pimps’, who brokered deals, created rifts and spread rumors among the political class to advance the interests of their politician friends and, in turn, their own prospects. Many journalists told me that the strongest currency in these transactions was caste, which not only influenced but decisively shaped the nature of alliances between journalists and politicians. It was not incidental, therefore, that both Hari and Siddaramiah belonged to the backward-caste Kuruba community. 172

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In the dim lounge of the Press Club, Janardhana, an experienced Kannada journalist, waved his hands in the air and kept his little notebook aside, to spell out what he believed to be a dictum. He cleared his throat, and stressed each word to ensure I took it down clearly on the notepad: ‘Dharma [Religion] can afford to keep jati [caste] aside. Politics can afford to keep jati aside. But media cannot keep jati aside.’ Janardhana’s dictum did not come as a surprise. It spurred memories of my own agonies of caste in the professional field of journalism. As a female journalist from an upper-caste family in Bangalore, I had encountered caste as a weapon of power among male journalists, especially political correspondents, to keep female journalists away from their secret networks of news sharing. I often felt deeply embarrassed about my caste identity, and would squirm when my male colleagues pointed to it to chide me for how I could never see beyond the comfort zone of my caste. I understood this as blatant gender discrimination, never realizing how narrow-visioned I  indeed was in my comfort zone. When I  went back to the field as a researcher-in-making, caste reappeared as a weapon of power among male journalists, but I could also see diverse power relations effected and effaced by caste. Within the news field, the influence of caste practices can be registered through various vantage points, potentially growing into separate theses on their own. In this chapter, however, I approach it as a particular nexus between caste, language and formal politics that shapes news practices and influences the ways in which different news publics are brought into visibility, at times completely oblivious to the wider changes fueled by liberalization and global capital in the city. Caste acted in tandem with language ideologies as a maximizing strategy for the journalists, especially those working for the Kannada papers. It was a key currency for masculine sociality, affective ties and trust groups in the news field. The very readiness of bhasha-inflected journalists to embrace the vocabulary of caste signaled the overlaps between caste and linguistic ideologies, which too often defied the market maps of audiences and instigated struggles irreducible to market power. The apparently selfish alliances between strategizing news actors and politicians of the same caste group could be construed as mere acts of self-aggrandizement, with little, if any, need for explanation. However, I show how these nexuses and associations were diverse in their political intent and effects, and how they were underwritten by a longer history of bilingual power structure and caste politics, which had profoundly shaped early journalism in princely Mysore. This history does not just suggest a postcolonial ‘difference’ where the vertical patron–client mode of self-interested factions has little

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in common with rational-critical public sphere, or that mediated desire is purged of caste structures.3 Rather, it reveals how the overlaps between historically shaped ideologies of caste, modernity and language bear on news cultures and intervene in the making of upper-caste-driven discourses of the ‘global city’, in which invoking the caste question was itself seen as a sign of insufficient modernity.

Print communalism

In 1918, Kantharaj Urs, the Dewan (Chief Minister) of the princely state of Mysore constituted a committee with Justice Leslie Miller, the Chief Justice of Mysore, as the chair, to find the reasons for the severe under-representation of non-Brahmins in the princely bureaucracy and to recommend measures to increase their number. The constitution of the committee was a milestone in the history of princely Mysore, and represented the first major attempt in British India to introduce a formal reservation policy for socially disprivileged communities.4 The ascent of a non-Brahmin leader to the coveted position of Mysore Dewan led to a rupture in the caste constitution of the princely bureaucracy, as Kantharaj Urs, the brother-in-law of the Mysore king and the new Dewan, openly encouraged non-Brahmin contenders to claim their share in bureaucratic posts. From the time the committee was constituted to the time it submitted its report in 1920, and for at least a decade after, Mysore politics was caught up in fierce debates between warring caste constituencies on who should lay claim to bureaucratic power and why. The period represents the rise of a distinct form of non-Brahmin movement in princely Mysore:  a pan-caste and pan-religious non-Brahmin struggle to procure greater political benefits for the three elite non-Brahmin groups – Lingayats, Okkaligas and Muslims. These groups demanded inclusion in the state bureaucracy and better status in the broader social order. The non-Brahmin movement differed from the larger and better-known Dravidian movement in the neighboring Madras Presidency in several ways. Although it had connections with the Dravidian movement and thus rested on the premise of challenging Brahmin dominance in the state bureaucracy as well as Brahmin orthodoxy in the social and ritual order, the conflict was restricted to the elite sections of non-Brahmin caste groups that had either enjoyed positions of privilege in the earlier period (Muslims), continued to enjoy dominant positions in the village (Okkaligas) or had a long history of claiming equal ritual status with the Brahmins (Veerashaivas or Lingayats).5 The nature of the conflict, therefore, underscored a ‘reclaiming’ of positions of privilege in the case of Muslims and Veerashaivas, and ‘transferring’ the position of privilege from

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a rural structure to the state machinery in the urban center in the case of Okkaligas.6 The movement was distinct in that it did not represent struggles of the lowest-ranking caste groups, nor a movement forged strictly along the lines of caste boundaries. The movement was also distinct in that mass mobilization was absent. The movement represented the Mysore royalty’s efforts to expand the social base of its legitimacy and authority through a limited mobilization of the elite sections of major caste groups in order to enhance the autonomy of the princely state vis-à-vis the colonial government.7 This ‘mobilization from above’ was soon complicated by ‘mobilization from below’, although limited to the literate sections of major caste groups. If the Dravidian movement in the adjoining Madras Presidency was a key influence, the mushrooming of caste associations in the wake of census enumerations had also helped settle the ‘fuzziness’ of communities.8 Political expedience and census rationality led to the formation of numerous caste associations seeking to benefit from government patronage and representation in the legislative assembly. In the context of these caste-mediated struggles for control of the power center rather than against it, as Bjorn Hettne convincingly argues, newspapers became vehicles for social mobility and elite political mobilization among prominent caste groups in the region.9 Vrittanta Patrike, Sadhvi, Mysore Star and Okkaligara Patrike were the largest circulated papers at the peak of the non-Brahmin movement.10 All these papers corresponded to the caste groups they came to represent and promote: if Vrittanta Patrike and Sadhvi advanced the interests of the Brahmins, Mysore Star and Okkaligara Patrike contested the Brahmin dominance in the state bureaucracy as well as in the field of journalism by promoting and building alliances between the Lingayat and Okkaliga caste groups. This occurred in the context of local journalistic practice embodying two distinct tendencies. The larger trend of ‘petition democracy’ characterized by petitioning the state machinery for political privileges through a language of flattery had shaped what could be called as ‘petition journalism’ in the region:11 newspapers implicitly assumed the centrality of the princely state and adopted a tone of reverence while addressing the old Hindu kingship authority. On the other hand, encouraged by the establishment of new avenues for democratic participation at the turn of the century, a section of the press grew sharply critical of the royal administration through what the authorities considered as ‘incendiary’ writings against the Dewans. Inspired by the ideas of justice, public spirit and principles of democratic participation, journalist-intellectuals such as D.V. Gundappa invoked and reinvented the Hindu notion of ‘Raja Marga’ (political practice) and advocated in their voluminous writings that this should form the ethical basis for the indigenous press. This

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was similar to the intellectual climate elsewhere in the country, when Brahmin intellectuals took to English-medium education and advanced the ideas of public spirit and patriotism by combining their close reading of Hindu epics with liberal philosophies refracted through colonialism.12 In such a milieu, journalists engaged in the non-Brahmin movement by using the twin modalities of petition and demand for justice.13 Throughout the 1920s, the non-Brahmin movement of the press unfolded as two antagonistic groups vigorously attempting to discursively construct a coherent field of conflict by essentializing the opposing group’s identity and thereby defining the lines of political mobilization. Newspapers were the co-creators of these identities and were themselves constituted by them. Mysore Star named all the newspapers owned by the Brahmins, particularly those by M.  Venkatakrishnia, a leading Brahmin journalist, as ‘Sampadabhyudaya Koota’, or the ‘Sampadabhyudaya (Brahmin) Caucus’. Indeed, until the non-Brahmin movement picked up momentum, journalism in Mysore was primarily practiced by Brahmins. Even at the peak of the non-Brahmin movement, all the key positions in the Journalists Professional Association, formed in 1926 with its headquarters in Bangalore, were occupied by Brahmin journalists:  M.  Venkatakrishniah as the president; K.  Ranga Iyengar as the vice-president; T.T. Sharma and P.R. Ramiah as the secretaries. Opposed to this Brahmin ‘caucus’ was what came to be organized as the ‘non-Brahmin’ press. Ethnographic investigations and census reports of colonial authorities on various caste groups were crucial in this process. Using the growing body of colonial data, newspapers asserted the distinctiveness of caste characteristics and mobilized evidence of the numerical strength of different caste groups that became the premise for challenging the dominance of ‘minority’ Brahmins. Colonial knowledge politics then not merely served colonial interests but radically redefined the terms of local political power, paving the way to mount challenges to Brahminical dominance through deeply interpenetrating tropes of secular power and ritual superiority.14 For instance, citing H.V. Nanjundayya’s Ethnographic Survey of 1908, The Daily Post described the Reddys as a Telugu-speaking Okkaliga caste that was ‘thrifty and hardworking’ and ‘in the middle ages held the reputation of being the true interpretation [sic] of the Shakespearean delineation of the soldier – jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the … reputation even at the cannon’s mouth’.15 Mysore Star (1922), owned by a prominent Veerashaiva leader, claimed that the Veerashaivas also had four varnas and Panchamas (literally, ‘fifth’ varna, referring to the Untouchables). This was offered as a way to assert that they should be identified as a religion separate from Hinduism, although

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ironically with the same structure of ritual hierarchy. Vishva Karnataka (1926), owned by a Brahmin scholar, on the other hand, invoked part-historical, part-mythological sources to establish Brahminical identity and superiority. If ‘sources’ for establishing caste identities differed for the two groups, with non-Brahmin journalists drawing on ethnographic surveys more widely and Brahmin journalists alluding to mythological/ literary descriptions, both sides shared the common aim of claiming the distinctiveness of the caste groups they represented. Aside from qualitative descriptions, through its census and other enumerative practices, the modern administrative machinery helped the non-Brahmin movement by providing a strong numerical basis to claim greater representation in the state machinery. Newspapers started to assert the cause of numerically dominant communities. Mysore Star was relentless in its challenge to the dominance of ‘minority Brahmins’ in the state bureaucracy, and asked:  ‘Will God be pleased with these Brahmins who argue that only their community which is just two lakh should prosper at the cost of other communities who count 55 lakh?’16 Vrittanta Patrike, owned by Christian missionaries, was equally clear in its argument:  ‘if members of a community that is just one thirtieth of the total population are occupying three fourths of the key government posts, can anyone defend it as natural?’17 Mysore Star mounted a challenge that nationalism would be impossible without a proper solution to the issues raised by the non-Brahmin leaders, forcefully declaring that the non-Brahmin movement was no longer a regional struggle but would soon ‘revolutionize and nationalize’ society.18 With numerical strength as a key point of contention, newspapers facilitated the forging of alliances by publishing detailed commentaries on the Dravidian movement in the neighboring state of Madras, reports on the activities of allied caste groups and polemical editorials on the Brahmin community. There were detailed reports on the Okkaligara Sangha’s activities in the Veerashaiva-owned Mysore Star and, similarly, reports on the Lingayat community in Okkaligara Patrike owned by the Okkaliga community. The caste alliance between the Lingayats and the Okkaligas was promoted through these ‘textual communities’ alongside other forums of mobilization such as the Representative Assembly, Legislative Council and caste associations.19 The importance of newspapers lay in their role in defining the terms of the discourse on ‘communal representation’, as it was called, and providing a coherent set of arguments in support of their claims. It would be helpful to turn to one such argument in greater detail. The key issue in this argument was ‘merit’, and the question was whether reservation would disrupt merit or expose its lack of

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legitimacy. M. Venkatakrishniah (who owned Sadhvi, The Mysore Patriot, Sampadabhyudaya), representing the Brahmin community, and Yajaman Veerabasappa (who owned Mysore Star), advocating the cause of the Veerashaiva communities, became the key protagonists in this debate as they fought directly through their newspapers to advance the claims of their communities. For Brahmin journalist leaders like Venkatakrishniah, the non-Brahmin movement’s argument about numerical strength as the basis for proportional representation was the hardest claim to challenge. As a numerical minority whose members had a virtual monopoly over the state administration, their response was to invoke the notions of ‘merit’ and ‘efficiency’. The actual and potential beneficiaries of the reservation scheme were promptly dubbed ‘inefficient’ and ‘ignorant’, symbolized by ‘ryots’ – the ‘illiterate’ farming communities. These journalists used upper-caste invocations of the ideas of liberal democracy and responsible governance to raise fears that the reservation policy would undermine merit and, ultimately, a state apparatus that relied heavily on ‘efficient’ executives. Commenting on the debates in the Representative Assembly about caste-based reservations, D.V. Gundappa remarked: When therefore the opinion of a gentleman like Mr Venkatakrishnayya … is at variance with that of one of the above described backseats men and ryots, the latter and his kindred raise a barrier which cannot be broken by the weightiest and wisest of the farmers’ arguments. The truth is that each wants to lead and refuses to be led; and the irony of it is that this idle claim is most vehemently urged by those who are the least competent to do so.20

Non-Brahmin journalists, for their part, strongly contested the notion of merit, invoking instead the affective values of ‘benevolence’ and ‘love’ shared between leaders and the masses. In challenging and changing the terms of the debate on communal representation, they rallied these concepts as a superior substitute for merit.Yajaman Veerabasappa asserted that: We want more heart and less brains [sic]. We want statesmen whose heart beats with those of the people of the country … The real people of Mysore will speak hereafter to show the falsity of those who had the monopoly of public service and who had the audacity to distort public opinion.21

Papers owned by the non-Brahmin leaders pointed to the social production of merit and mounted a direct attack on the modern institutions of education and the assumption that formal educational qualifications led to bureaucratic efficiency: it is evident that what the present day University education requires is nothing except an undiluted talent for cramming. If you have some facility for learning things by rote which the monopolist community have acquired or inherited to

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a degree, you have every chance of passing the modern University examination, of attending the convocation in borrowed garments and of being entitled to use some of the letters of the alphabet … For each work different aptitudes and qualifications are required.22

If this argument questioned the legitimacy of merit derived from modern educational institutions, another challenged the traditional sources of Brahminical authority on grounds of ‘justice and fairplay’, denouncing scriptural sources that conferred social superiority to the Brahmins. Countering these claims, the Brahmin newspapers advocated the traditional varnashramadharma and posed it as a necessary condition for the efficient functioning of the state.23 They saw no contradiction between the modern administrative system and the traditional social order. In a tone of elevated deliberation, M. Venkatakrishniah argued: Division of labour is indispensable for progress. Some should toil with their brains for the march of progress and others should toil with their muscles for the same purpose. The intellectual toilers have been classed as Brahmins, the muscular toilers as non-Brahmins. It was rightly settled that for the progress of mankind the physical toilers should not be burdened with the painful concentration which intellectual toil demands. It was agreed that the conclusion arrived at by the intellectual laborers should form the basis for action on the part of the non-intellectual laborers.24  The papers also carried letters by 'anonymous' non-Brahmin readers who endorsed the orthodox social order along suspiciously similar lines of argument.

The papers also carried letters by ‘anonymous’ non-Brahmin readers who endorsed the orthodox social order along suspiciously similar lines of argument. If the official position of the paper represented in the editorial employed subtle prose, embellished with moralizing prescripts on who rightfully constituted the ‘forward castes’, the letters by anonymous ‘non-Brahmins’ were far more direct and even racist, claiming, for instance, that ‘the very blood corpuscles [of Brahmins] have become accustomed to education’.25  These arguments morphed social differences as natural predispositions  – a key element of orientalist knowledge on castes. Non-Brahmin journalists, on the other hand, argued for a contradiction between the ‘modern’ administrative system espoused by the princely authority and the orthodox social order prescribing caste-based division of labor. In foregrounding this contradiction, they rested their hopes on the modern idea of liberal democracy: It is well known that all the dig [sic] and the dust raised by them [Brahmins] is bound to subside in course of time if not from an ultruistic [sic] motives at least from the view of their own future welfare and good, as they realize that the times

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have changed when the great democracy is to be the determining factor in our life in all spheres and not any priestly hierarchy.26

Both the groups thus frequently shifted sides on embracing modernity or tradition, as they understood the terms, and deployed them in contradictory ways. These claims and counter-claims about reason, justice, love and merit reflected the clear identitarian split between the Brahmin and non-Brahmin communities, despite a lack of ideological clarity. This identitarian divide was not only facilitated by the newspapers but also, in a profound way, constituted by the debates they published. Throughout the 1920s and in the initial years of the following decade, newspapers belonging to either side of the divide were consistent in their political position and caste-based advocacy. This consistency marked the beginning of a distinctive form of journalism – what could be described as print communalism. This form of journalism, as I briefly mention in the Introduction and Chapter 3, involved explicit promotion and advocacy of a community’s interests, references to the activities of allied caste groups and polemical confrontation with opposing caste camps. Distinct from what Benedict Anderson describes as ‘print capitalism’, it entailed a relationship between a community-driven agenda and print that was fundamental in early-twentieth-century Mysore (as with print and market in nineteenth-century Europe). Two key markers distinguished it from print capitalism. First, print communalism was comparatively indifferent to the commercial gains of publishing, as news proprietors continued to bring out papers with little or no profits, often plowing in money from their personal savings. M. Venkatakrishniah launched and closed down several newspapers, depending on the state of his finances as well as fluctuations in his relationship with the Mysore royalty which was one of the key patrons for the newspapers in the region. In his presidential address at the Karnataka Newspaper Association’s first conference in 1928 in Bagalkot, D.V. Gundappa lamented the financial fragility of Mysore newspapers and contrasted this scenario with Bengal and Maharashtra that had papers like Vasumati and Kesari, respectively, enjoying a circulation of 10,000 and more.27 He blamed the neglect of the royalty for this ‘depressing state of affairs’. Gundappa himself had lost 1000 rupees after publishing The Karnataka paper between 1913 and 1920. Soon, he started another magazine, The Indian Review of Reviews, with a cover price of 12 anna and annual subscription of 8 rupees.28 He restarted this English magazine with the help of funding from friends since the small subscription fee could not cover its costs. Bangalore Times rued that ‘the conducting of newspapers in the state is an extremely hazardous task’,29 but it did not stop publishing because its mission, as it declared in its editorial, was ‘the communal levelling up in the public

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life’ and fight for the cause of the backward communities.30 As a mode of political mobilization through the vocabulary of caste-based communities, newspapers were thus both a sign and means of mobility. Second, as opposed to the expansion of publics viewed as necessary for widening the revenue net of print capitalism, print communalism promoted horizontally more finite communities imbued with a definite political agenda, forming sets of insiders and influential actors. This developed within the larger colonial context in India, which was different from the West where print technology and the market saw a parallel growth. Even with the arrival of the printing press, the conditions in colonial India were not sufficient to create a ‘laicised’ literary culture and print capitalism.31 As literacy levels were quite low, the newspapers addressed a small section of society. In Mysore, this condition was deepened by the non-Brahmin movement, which led to newspapers addressing not only a small literate section of society but, in fact, specific groups within that section defined in terms of caste-based communities. Yet, at the same time, ‘print communalism’ was distinct from casteism as the newspapers engaged more intensely in advocating politically meaningful caste alliances, although the primary motive behind this activity was to procure greater political privileges for the respective caste groups. This indicated a movement toward the ‘royal center’ by homologous caste groups that did not compete with each other in their forward march, as Decan Quigley argues.32 Newspapers co-created (along with the census and other political changes) a meso-level of social organization that was neither based on direct kinship genealogies, clientelism and personal loyalties, nor as inclusive and expansive as the idea of the nation. Anderson notes that vernacular publications helped Protestants to mobilize reading publics for politico-religious purposes in sixteenth-century Europe onwards. However, this relationship was a ‘coalition’ between Protestantism and print capitalism rather than a strategy internal to print capitalism.33 On the other hand, the political role of building caste alliances was constitutive for print communalism and was also partly an effect of royal statecraft in its effort to create ‘mobilization from above’ to legitimize princely authority. Equally, print communalism differed from religious communalism because the demarcated constituencies did not directly correspond to the recognized religious communities. The struggle was trans-religious as Christian and Muslim communities also joined hands with Lingayats and Okkaligas in opposing Brahmin dominance. The early print media’s constitutive role in caste-based and pan-caste agendas of the non-Brahmin movement signaled several important developments. First, the assumption of rational-critical discourse as

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foundational to the formation of print publics falls short of explaining the complex politics undergirding journalistic practice in colonial India. Print communalism not only challenges ahistorical assumptions about the press but reveals that ‘reason’ can itself become a weapon of power for the privileged upper-caste groups, contested strongly in the later years by the non-Brahmin groups. Second, significant in this politics of ‘communal’ mobilization was the bilingual dynamics of news practice. If the colonial encounter had displaced Sanskrit from the dominant position and replaced it with English, many news proprietors during the peak of the non-Brahmin movement turned their papers into bilingual publications since such a strategy promised an assured way to influence the erudite royal bureaucracy and participate in the wider debates on non-Brahmin politics beyond the region. Mysore Star, among other papers, was sharply aware of the symbolic capital of bilingual news and the necessity to acquire this in good measure to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the princely bureaucracy. It introduced long articles in English alongside the usual mix of stories in Kannada to influence debates at the higher levels of the princely state as well as to connect with the Dravidian movement in the neighboring Madras presidency. As I point out in Chapter 3, the subsumption of language politics within the larger communal debate was a key feature of print communalism.

Caste and language as a weapon of war

The practices of caste and language in the contemporary news field were both a continuation and departure from this longer history of a caste–language–journalism matrix. There was a departure in that the discourse of meritocracy was now a more privileged domain for the English-speaking literate upper castes, which also morphed as a technocracy in urban development contexts. There was continuity in that the bilingual structuring and caste practices of news fields affected news cultures and journalists’ notions about the city ever more deeply. Through the years of state-led modernization and most definitely in the liberalization decades, the dominance of English grew exponentially in the spheres of commerce, science and education, firmly backed by the social power of the English-speaking literate class. Operating within the larger linguistic power structure and perception of ‘enfeebled Kannada’,34 mainstream Kannada journalists used ‘Kannada pride’ to avert possible domination within the news field, and redeployed it as a maximizing strategy. In their own professional field, Kannada journalists, as with regional-language journalists elsewhere in the country, envied the high

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salaries and other material privileges of English journalists, even as they doggedly tried to escape the ‘tyranny of English’ in their day-today news-gathering activities. I heard many narratives circulating within the Kannada journalistic community on how they were ill-treated by the hosts of press conferences, especially by the corporate sector, when they stuttered or found it hard to speak in English. Veerabhadra,35 a young, dynamic crime reporter at a Kannada newspaper once shared with me the ‘painful experience’ of covering the fashion beat when his colleague had to suffer the ‘shame’ of speaking ‘wrong’ English while posing a question to an urban, educated public relations agent and their corporate hosts – whom he described squarely as ‘city jana’ (the city people). ‘I remember how a nice looking guy brusquely turned away a Kannada journalist when she stuttered in English’, he recalled. ‘On the other hand’, he continued, ‘the English journalist was talking to the client as though she had known him for thousand years!’ Veerabhadra had left behind his ancestral property – acres of fertile agricultural land in the hilly region of Karnataka – and with it the agrarian culture of the coffee estates, to migrate to Bangalore for work. He made a living in journalism and rose from the ranks of a part-time journalist for a crime tabloid to a full-time reporter for a mainstream Kannada newspaper. Very often, these narratives of injustice among Kannada journalists like Veerabhadra were dotted with caste idioms, such as identifying themselves as the ‘untouchables’ in the news field because of their lack of English-language skills. The journalistic labor market conferred different statuses to journalists based on their language competence, reflective of the broader labor market differentiation in globalizing India and the deeply uneven life choices across classes. However, for the journalists it struck in all its materiality in the practical contexts of everyday work. As Veerabhadra described, journalists had to encounter it in their efforts to gather news, when they interacted with ‘news sources’ or colleagues. As a result, it turned out to be a problem not so much of the differentiated labor market or the classist underpinnings of language difference as of petty rivalries and hubris among their English colleagues. Bhasha journalists – those who worked for the regional-language media as well as those who shared a similar habitus in the English-language media – more staunchly pursued the conservative connotations of Kannada owing to these internal power dynamics, even as they astutely combined them with caste-based practices to gain significant clout among the political class and in turn invert the dominated status of Kannada and their own possible subordination. If the performance of the Kannada symbol assembled various demands of heterogeneous publics, Kannada was deployed also as a vehicle for internal struggles within the community in tandem with caste practices.

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Caste operated in the news field, via language ideologies, in three specific ways. First, as a community identity, an ‘idiom of association’ and perceptions of ascriptive features, caste was a key factor in shaping the rifts and alliances between news proprietors and how they framed the purpose of their newspapers.36 Consequently, it influenced whether these influential news actors supported or opposed the discourses about the city and its publics advanced by their peers. Drawing on the insider–outsider binary, Kannada news proprietors bracketed out several news actors as not only as outsiders but also business castes lacking moral commitment. In many of these perceptions, there were blurred boundaries between the notions of land, language and caste, such as, for instance, the marking of the TOI as simultaneously an English-outsider and a morally empty caste group. A  senior Kannada journalist at Prajavani commented on the ‘de-rooted status’ of the TOI by explicitly marking them along the caste lines: ‘Times of India is here for business. They are Marwaris. They want business. That is all.’ These associations within the news field shaped and were shaped by the larger field of urban politics, in which caste and language identities forged easy alliances in their common effort to reterritorialize global capital. A telling example was the sudden rise of ‘Bengalur u Nirmapaka Kempe‫ﷳ‬gowd￳a Ke‫ﷳ‬ndra Samiti’ (The Bangalore Founder Kempegowda Central Committee), when the new international airport was ready for inauguration in early 2008. The committee supported the efforts of KRV, well known for its pro-Kannada activities, and joined public rallies to demand that the international airport be named after Kempegowda, who had become an icon of the politically strong Okkaliga caste group in recent years. The committee was a quick coalition of Kannada cultural organizations in public-sector industries and several trade cooperative societies. A  charter prepared by the committee urged the government to name the airport for Kempegowda. The charter had the signatures of the heads of these organizations along with a large group of Kannada writers, intellectuals, freedom fighters, Kannada Sahitya Parishat (Kannada Literary Forum) and the Kannada Development Authority, as well as the heads of caste institutes and prominent caste associations such as All India Karnataka Vīras´aiva Mahasabha (All India Karnataka Veerashaiva Association), Kolada Matha (monastery for the Kolada caste community), Be‫ﷳ‬li Matha (monastery for the Beli caste community) and Okkaliga caste associations. Several such campaigns mobilized around caste and language alliances infused urban development with logics of affective communities, and sought to advance proprietorial claims on the city through temporal tropes of regional histories and symbolic means of renaming public projects. As mentioned in the previous chapter, the

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‘Bengaluru International Airport’ was indeed renamed ‘Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru’ in 2013, bringing to a successful conclusion years of petitioning by these groups. The invocation of caste was not always in direct relation to urban transformation, although it produced diverse effects, some unintended. Newspapers such as Sanje Vani, Ee Sanje (both evening dailies in Kannada) and Prajavani, for instance, came closest to the older model of print communalism, although they had by now mastered the art of combining caste interests with commercial gains. Ee Sanje, started in 1991, had an average print order of 60,000 copies in 2008, and was sold through mobile vendors at public spaces like traffic junctions in Bangalore and surrounding districts between three in the afternoon and six in the evening, after which it lost its appeal. Though the circulation was small, the paper was influential in promoting the cause of the Okkaliga community with an active Okkaliga community leader at its helm. Abhimani T.  Venkatesh, the proprietor of Ee Sanje, owned a large business empire of which the evening daily was but a tiny addendum. He ran a publishing and printing house that boasted export connections with African and South Asian countries, including Pakistan. He had recently entered into the real estate and hotel industries, and was active in Okkaliga caste associations across the state. It was rumored that he was among the key ‘kingmakers’ in the regional political field, having successfully brokered several alliances between political parties. In conjunction with his caste and business interests, he started an evening daily to challenge the monopoly of Sanje Vani, a popular evening tabloid that had lately leaned toward favoring the Veerashaivas. Caste was at the top of Ee Sanje’s agenda, evident most strikingly in its day-to-day news decisions. One afternoon, inside the newsroom of the paper’s centrally located office, I saw the editorial members working at a frantic pace to send the paper for print. It was just around noon, but the deadline for the paper was much earlier than morning dailies. Across the tiny workstations spilling sheets of papers, tangled telephone wires and copies of newspapers at all awkward angles, I managed to strike up a conversation with some journalists. They told me, with little hesitation, that they had a mandate to promote the interests of Okkaliga political leaders and extend favorable coverage to any event or statement associated with the seer of the Adichunchanagiri Matha, the central community institution for the Okkaligas. These conversations led me to fix an appointment with Abhimani Venkatesh, the politically influential proprietor-editor of the paper. The large air-conditioned office of the proprietor was just around the corner. When I  visited the office for the first time, I  was struck by

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its layered layout – the first room led to a series of inner rooms, culminating in the innermost ‘main’ office of the proprietor, resembling the sanctum sanctorum of a Hindu temple. This was similar to the offices of many politicians – rooms led to progressively more serious, confidential and intimate meeting rooms, regulating through its architecture the carefully crafted degrees of access. The room on the outermost layer was earmarked for casual visits or for those from lower social ranks seeking monetary or political help. As an English-speaking ‘city lady’ representing a reputed ‘modern’ institution, I could command the stature to merit a discussion in the innermost room of the proprietor. An imposing portrait of Balagangadharanatha Swami, the Adichunchanagiri seer, occupied a large portion of the wall along with an embossed picture of one of the most widely worshipped Hindu deities, Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati, in glowing gold. A separate closet for smaller idols of several Hindu gods stood at the corner, surrounded by a steady humming of a one-line chant in praise of Lord Venkateshwara, which repeated itself continuously on the audio player. The perfect choreography of walled pictures, glowing deepams (sacred lamps) and aromatic incense sticks created a climate so distinct from all the other news offices I had visited – monochrome rooms with glass-topped tables, blank walls and branded air fresheners. The religious decor seemed to render the office more susceptible to the temptations of caste, and perhaps the office asserted caste through this distinct ambience. Venkatesh avoided my indirect questions on caste, but when it was intermeshed with ‘Kannada publics’, he did not hesitate to assert why caste promotion should be the objective of any newspaper. Hinting that his journalistic endeavor is in part shaped by his desire to challenge Brahmin dominance, he said, ‘Brahmins were journalists. But they were never print industrialists (patrikodyami). Why do you always eye the Brahmins? You also become like them! You gain knowledge and work hard. Great sages (tapasvi) were not Brahmins. In the era of Krishna, except Parashurama, other tapasvis were Kshatriyas.’ As Venkatesh’s voice rose with the pride of defying Brahmin strength with his successful media business, a priest entered the room and took about ten minutes to clean and decorate the small pūja (prayer) corner. Venkatesh stood up from his seat in reverence, dutifully took the mangalārati (sacred flaming camphor) and gave a handsome dakṣine (cash gift) to the priest. ‘Caste is about supporting fellow members,’ he asserted, after he sat down again to resume the discussion. Of the nine reporters he had hired for the paper, five belonged to the Okkaliga community, and the chief reporter himself was an Okkaliga, introduced to the proprietor by an influential Okkaliga bureaucrat in the state government. On several occasions, non-Okkaliga political leaders or those who posed a threat to Okkaliga political power drew shallow coverage in the paper. My friend and senior editorial staff member of

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Ee Sanje never once missed the occasion to lament the Okkaliga bias of the paper, and how they had to put in extra hours, often grudgingly, to publish every statement and announcement made by the Okkaliga political leaders. A few months after the time I conversed with him, my friend quit Ee Sanje to join a publication owned by Rashtreeya Swayam Sevak Sangha, the Hindu nationalist organization, even though he supported neither right-wing nationalism nor Okkaliga caste politics, but had been led to all these papers by the sheer force of career moves and livelihood options. News proprietors like Venkatesh were not as casual in their ideological leanings, for they saw caste as an ‘urgent moral mandate’ that entailed obligations of lobbying.37 In the broader context of the political dominance of Okkaligas and Lingayats in the region, which was at a peak until 1970, and the growing caste heterogeneity of Karnataka politics in the later years, papers such as Ee Sanje and Sanje Vani continued to publicly support Okkaligas and Lingayats, with an explicit intent to channel political benefits to the leaders of these caste groups. Caste exclusions Caste in the news field was more than an ethnic marker and a means to enter the competitive domain of democratic politics. As a ‘composite phenomenon intrinsically and irreducibly involving relations of power’, as Nathaniel Roberts emphasizes, newspapers reflected the long history of struggles against caste exploitation of which newsrooms were themselves striking exemplars.38 Shaped by a long history of supporting the backward-class movement in Karnataka, the Deccan Herald group (with Prajavani  – PV) stood by the cause of low-status caste communities, although the differences between the three brothers who inherited the family legacy periodically turned the news policies upside down and, as a result, the group veered through contradictory political stances. PV was transformed most clearly in the 1970s and 1980s when K.N. Harikumar, the eldest brother, radically restructured the organization by recruiting journalists from the backward class and Dalit community to end the dominance of Brahmin scribes in the newsroom. These changes coincided with measures by a backward-caste Chief Minister Devaraj Urs, who advanced the interests of backward-caste groups with political representation and land reforms. Newsroom cultures underwent significant transformation inside the Deccan Herald–PV group, largely as a result of the new recruitment policies. Several journalists from the backward-class community rose in their careers owing to the initial thrust on newsroom diversity initiated by Harikumar. Such was the force of these new measures that the ratio of non-Brahmin to Brahmin workers inside the PV newsroom increased from 20:80 in 1978 to 60:40 in 2008.

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Although the number of Brahmin scribes was still large in 2008, all the eight members of the highest editorial committee were from the backward castes. This was a significant shift from the early days of their journalistic careers at PV when a Brahmin-dominated newsroom relegated young non-Brahmin reporters to writing the ‘events for the day’ column or other such prosaic tasks and subjected Dalit journalists to severe forms of discrimination, by refusing to sit on the chairs previously occupied by them. Powerful Brahmin political reporters of the time clandestinely guarded information from the non-Brahmin newcomers, abusing them as ‘S´ani’  – inauspicious and unwelcome intruders. Narrating the forms of exclusion in the newsroom, Lakshmana Kodase, a senior editorial staff member of the PV, recalled how news-gathering was affected by notions of ritual merit when Brahmin journalists demeaned Dalit and backward-caste scribes as intellectually inferior because of their ritual inferiority, suggesting that they lacked the creative energies needed for an occupation like journalism. Kodase was aware of the limits to his agentic maneuvering against the growing commercial ethos of the paper and the mounting resentment among some of his own colleagues against perceived branding of the paper as a backward-class ‘shudra paper’, which evoked the image of ritual impurity. Despite these challenges, Kodase and the editorial staff of PV contended that their caste experiences within the newsroom and elsewhere deeply affected their news decisions and drove them to favor the voices of the Dalits, low-status caste groups and Muslims: When a Dalit is publicly stripped or when the Kambalpalli [Dalit burning] incident happened, it is not just a crime incident for us. We try to bring about a change in the mindset, and write that it is a black mark on the humanity. When there is oppression, exploitation and injustice, we project it. If a Dalit is ostracized in a village, that will be the editorial subject for Prajavani. Other papers don’t see it as important. In our readership, there is a huge segment of backward community people. They claim Prajavani is their paper, just as they believe Congress is their party.39

In the broader news field, this voice was but a minority. Emerging Dalit journalists embraced Internet-enabled new media and created blogs to infuse mainstream news discourse with notions of caste equity, but these were clearly confined to the margins, leaving marks of ‘dispersed inequalities’ rather than coordinated struggles.40 If English-language newspapers such as The Hindu took a more critical stance on Dalit issues, the effort was deflected even by Kannada journalists, many of whom were Brahmins. Caste was, thus, yet another fault line that divided the journalistic community and most clearly marked the lines of status and distinction, often rendering the profession of journalism

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inaccessible for many Dalit journalists. Through the symbolic violence of Sanskritized Kannada, marked by conventional grammar and Brahminical pronunciation as well as through broader claims about wit, tact and a journalistic ‘nose for news’, upper-caste journalists continued to raise barriers for Dalit journalists, just as Brahmin journalists strongly resisted non-Brahmin journalists’ forays into journalism in princely Mysore by openly ridiculing their language and intelligence. Although narratives about caste within the community were underwritten by a subjectivity that was at once conscious and embarrassed about caste, it did not take too long for the journalists to express where their allegiances were placed. While some upper caste journalists strongly identified with the anti-caste socialist movement supported within the journalistic field by prominent Brahmin scribes such as Khadri Shamanna, it was more likely to see a Brahmin journalist resenting the pro-backward-caste bias of PV, accusing it of sensationalizing Dalit issues. In one of the conversations, a former journalist from the Brahmin caste and now a lecturer at a local journalism school described PV’s newsroom experiments in the 1970s sneeringly as an attempt to bring ‘other strata of society’ to journalism. When I asked him what he meant by ‘other strata’, he remarked with hesitation and muted contempt, ‘I mean they did not come from the family of journalists. I don’t want to use the word non-Brahmins etc. because it leads to unnecessary controversies.’ Another upper caste journalist baldly alleged that before non-Brahmins ‘conquered PV phase by phase’, the paper had a ‘cultured outlook’. This resentment, among other factors, fueled the upper-caste-dominated Hindutva agenda in the regional news field, when a new newspaper (Vijaya Karnataka,VK) in the market fashioned a sharply anti-Dalit, anti-minority ideology. Many journalists attributed VK’s growth to the rising resentment among a section of readers left abandoned by PV, most prominently the Brahmin and pro-Hindutva constituencies. At VK, and also at Samyuktha Karnataka and KP, the dominance of Brahmins continued apace, even though the newer generation of ambitious Brahmin scribes strategically accommodated Okkaliga journalists and other caste groups to meet the growing workforce crunch in the news industry as well as to establish less contested dominance within the newsroom. Vishveshwara Bhat, the editor of VK at the time of conducting my fieldwork, was most striking in this form of accommodative, if not benign, newsroom hegemony. While he promoted journalists from his caste group, indeed his own subcaste of Havyak Brahmins, he nurtured a team of Okkaliga reporters who were loyal to him because of his innovative editorial policy of introducing bylined columns by his staff members, showcasing a column-size

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photograph of the journalist. Such publicity for individual journalists in the middle ranks was rarely seen before, just as was the racy prose and less-regulated writing styles allowed in these columns. Journalists grew in fame with these columns among the general reading public, but crucially within the political circles, matching the stardom of a new generation of television journalists. If the editor was on the publicity committee of several Brahmin Mathas and felicitation committees of the Brahmin seers, the chief reporter, an Okkaliga, too received felicitations at regular intervals from these Mathas, including the seemingly orthodox Brahmin Mathas of the Madhva subsect. Not surprisingly, events of many of these Mathas and caste leaders regularly appeared in the paper, often elevating them to adjudicate on public issues and publicizing their active role in Hindutva politics. The editor was steadfast in his promotion of pro-Hindu sentiments and continuous coverage of Brahmin caste groups and leaders. In many ways, his Brahmin background and Hindutva politics were co-extensive in the practices of Bhat, in that his previous career as a press secretary to a prominent BJP Brahmin leader and his consequent reputation as the first writer to translate the autobiography of A.B. Vajpayee (former prime minister of India) into Kannada, firmly anchored a pro-Hindu political stance in his newspaper. At the same time, with a remarkable writing style and broad citation skills, he gathered a massive following across the caste divide. VK’s initial growth in circulation was largely credited to the interests of the Lingayat readers it served, since the founder-proprietor of the paper was himself a prominent Lingayat leader with ambitions to garner the support of his caste group to advance his political career. The Brahmin–Okkaliga alliance in the newsroom, and the initial thrust of Lingayat politics, regularly overlooked issues on the Dalits and backward-caste groups, at times sparking protests by political parties and associations representing these communities in front of VK offices. Many organizations representing backward-caste groups accused the paper – unofficially the first right-wing broadsheet in Kannada – of blacking out their events and voices, and threatened to sue the paper on the grounds of ‘jati nindane’ (caste defacement). It was equally unlikely, as several journalists admitted, to see stories on Muslim political leaders or Muslim associations in VK.41 Journalists had a clear understanding of the caste affiliations of their employers as well as their covert networks of association with politicians for money and other benefits, and structured their actions in the news field through this knowledge. They knew which news sources would appease or irk the editor and other news heads, and very rarely breached the implicit caste boundaries of news practices. Just as management

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structures of control circumscribed journalists’ sphere of agency inside the TOI, caste sentiments underpinning various Kannada newspapers set a limit to journalists’ practice. Summarizing the caste affiliations of various Kannada newspapers, a senior journalist at VK commented, with resigned pragmatism: ‘If you say Prajavani, you instantly equate it with Shudras. Samyuktha Karnataka and Kannada Prabha are pro-Brahmin, Ee Sanje is for Okkaligas and Sanje Vani for Lingayats. It has become like that!’ On his paper, the journalist remained silent and stopped short of completing the sequence, and instead mumbled that he left the task of caste-mapping VK to me. As an Okkaliga journalist, my research participant benefited from patronage for journalists of his caliber inside the paper, owing to a rather rare collaboration between the Brahmin editor and his Okkaliga reporters. For many journalists, it seemed neither unusual nor objectionable for the newspapers to promote the interests of the respective caste groups. Drawing parallels between caste-based cooperative societies and newspapers, these journalists asserted that newspapers indeed had the mandate to promote their respective caste groups: There was a paper called Lokavani promoted by B.D. Jatti. The paper recruited Lingayat reporters and computer operators. It used to prefer Lingayats for all the positions. In Samyuktha Karnataka, Brahmins are a bit strong. It is but obvious that such organizations prefer members of their caste community. Can you [as a Brahmin] go to a Veerashaiva Cooperative Society and demand seats there? It’s rubbish!

If caste was seen as a normal attribute or indeed obligatory for the Kannada newspapers, it was in the same tone of common-sense wisdom that the journalists refused to mark English-language journalism along caste lines. The largely upper-caste composition of the English-media newsrooms and an aggressive market-driven news policy allowed little scope for foregrounding caste as an explicit agenda in the day-to-day news operations, especially within newspapers such as the TOI, which placed a huge premium both on market gains as well as English-language capital concentrated among Brahmin and Christian journalists. This masked the implicit ideologies of the ‘caste neutral position’ cemented by the dominance of upper-caste journalists. These journalists refused to acknowledge caste-based inequities in the wider society or muted their opinion, since management guidelines relegated discussions about caste as a concern of the ‘decadent political class’. Many of the TOI-style English newspapers hastily dismissed anything deemed ‘traditional’ – that which opposed urban modernity through the ‘regressive’ tropes of caste. In the broad sweep of issues overlooked as traditional, Dalit questions figured not merely as unpleasant spots in the narrative of a world-class city but

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Dalit violence appeared only as extraordinary incidents of violence – a law-and-order problem and not a social issue. Journalistic sociality and networks Caste practices extended beyond the walls of the newsrooms and news policies, into trans-organizational sites of journalistic sociality. This constituted the crucial third aspect of the caste–journalism nexus. Among journalists, caste determined the politics of association, which shaped networks and syndicates of news sharing. Caste-based cliques among journalists functioned like extended kinship groups based on values of trust, obligation, paternal care, security and affection. Abhimani Venkatesh, the influential news proprietor, once told me that caste sentiments are repositories of moral values in social life. Such was his obeisance to the caste spiritual leader of the Okkaligas that he had little doubt that ‘[g]‌enuine casteism [jativada] is about loving your siblings and relatives’. If the influence of caste identity was most salient in recruiting journalists from the same caste group with the ubiquitous introduction of young journalists to recruiters as ‘nimma hud￳uga mad￳i sar’ (‘your boy, do it sir’), it was also equally evident in favoring members of the same caste while allotting assignments, assigning pages for their news stories and deciding bylines. Within the trans-organizational space, practices of sharing news with fellow caste members and withholding it from others were common. As Janardhana piquantly described:  ‘If journalists are from the same caste group, they are treated with affectionate eyes’ (ase kan￴n￴ininda nod￳tare). Caste was also a key determinant in protecting or grouping against erring colleagues within the intricate ebbs and flows of office politics. A talented journalist belonging to a backward-caste community in VK was made to quit his job because he wrote an investigative story against the corrupt practices of a senior police officer who was personally close to the then proprietor. Many journalists in the field argued that his exit was a consequence of lacking sufficient ‘caste protection’, since the journalist in question did not have the backing of his own caste members within VK. A young Kannada journalist said to me during one of our conversations at the Press Club: ‘It is true that merit counts. But members of the favored caste community feel more secure. Their mistakes are more readily pardoned. Even if they do not know the job too well, they are tolerated and promoted.’ If ‘jati samīkaran￴a’ (caste attraction) was the term invoked to describe caste favoritism and affective bonds, a more frequent account of caste in journalism referred to ‘jati bala’, or caste-based strength. This aspect of caste as a maximizing strategy was most crucial in mediating associations

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between journalistic groups and the political class. As with Hari, a significant number of journalists acted as interlocutors, intermediaries and agents for the politicians, to transmit information, build strategies and help make wise political moves. While many of them were from the Kannada and other regional-language newspapers, there were also a small number of political reporters from the English-language press active in caste-based news politics. These political reporters had their allegiances clearly marked out along the caste lines, such that Kuruba journalists helped the leaders of their caste group, Okkaliga journalists were in close camaraderie with their caste leaders and the Brahmin and Lingayat journalists promoted their own cliques. The changing caste composition of the news field was particularly significant in shaping these networks. In contrast to the dominance of Brahmins in the colonial and post-independence years, the news field in Bangalore at the turn of the millennium was more heterogeneous in caste composition.42 In 2008, of the 165 members of the Bangalore Reporters’ Guild, Okkaligas and Brahmins constituted the vast majority. Of the 153 members of the Guild about whom I could gather caste details, 49 were Okkaligas (32%), 41 Brahmins (27%), 18 Lingayats (12%), 19 OBC (12.4%), 16 Muslims (10%), 1 SC (0.65%) and 4 ST (3%). OBC included nine journalists from the Kuruba community, two members from the Kamma community, two from the Vishwakarma community and one Kodava journalist. Many journalists accused the Guild of Okkaliga dominance, describing it as ‘Okkaligara Kuta’ (Okkaliga Guild) and not ‘Varadigarara Kuta’ (Reporters’ Guild). Walking with a group of journalists on the wide alleyways of Vidhana Soudha, the Legislative House of Karnataka, I once interrupted a journalist with what seemed like an out-of-place question. Kempanna, the journalist who worked for Udayavani, was taking part in a routinized stroll inside the Soudha when journalists from various newspapers walked together from door to door for press handouts and announcements by ministers and political leaders. ‘Why is VaradigāNewrara KūNewta called Okkaligara KūNewta?’, I asked straightaway. Kempanna gulped, paused and almost fell into silence. I doubted if I was wrong in posing the question, knowing well that Kempanna was also an Okkaliga. But he was a longtime friend and hence, contrary to my fears, he leaned down and whispered, ‘Guild acquired this ill reputation because of a single journalist who wanted to use the fax facility at the guild office free of charge.’ I was puzzled by this commonplace, yet confident, explanation to a loaded question, but he reasoned that this journalist recruited fellow Okkaligas in the Guild just so his free use of the fax machine went unquestioned. But the Guild spoke nothing of the wider journalistic field, he maintained. ‘Journalism in Bangalore is still dominated by the Brahmins,’ he

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asserted. ‘Look at all the senior positions in the newspapers. Most of them are occupied by the Brahmins! Have you seen any negative report coming out about this [BJP] government in the papers?’ I asked if it was not true that newspapers in recent years were hesitant to take on any government. ‘No,’ Kempanna protested sharply, ‘there were so many negative reports about Kumaraswamy [former chief minister, an Okkaliga]. Needless I should say!’ Kempanna's anger against Brahmin dominance, voiced by many other Okkaliga journalists like Abhimani Venkatesh – and their collective efforts to blunt the effects of negative reports about Okkaliga political leaders – indexed the rise of intermediary caste groups in the news field. In close parallel with the end of single-party dominance and the concomitant rise of backward-caste groups in postcolonial India and the continued dominance of Okkaliga and Lingayat leaders in the regional political field, journalists belonging to the Okkaliga, Lingayat and Kuruba communities grew in number and influence, to challenge, if not fully erase, Brahmin dominance. Alongside the changing field of formal politics, the availability of formal journalism degrees in universities and private educational institutions infused greater caste diversity in the occupation. These degrees helped non-Brahmin journalists to gain entry into the Kannada news field, which had earlier been shaped only by recruitment based on personal recommendations or family ties.43 ‘Secular’ degrees, as one journalist described formal journalism degrees, did not, however, guarantee caste-free identities. The chief reporter of a large Kannada daily pointed out that ‘[a]‌s soon as they enter the paper, they throw away their secular degrees and quickly begin to associate with their caste groups!’ On the other hand, the percentage of Dalit journalists was still very low, while the relatively higher number of Muslim reporters at the Guild was because of the association’s policies to represent newspapers of all languages. Muslim journalists in the list mostly worked for the Urdu newspapers, and their number was significantly low in the English-language and Kannada broadsheets. In VK, there were no Muslims in the reporting section or the senior editorial team. Apart from the chief of the political bureau and one other correspondent, there were no Muslim journalists in the reporting and senior editorial sections at the TOI. Other than the chief of the crime bureau, there was no Muslim reporter or senior editorial staff member in BM. There were no SC/ST reporters or senior editorial members in any of these newspapers. Journalists believed that their professional community was split into three large caste groups:  the Okkaliga group, viewed as the ‘prabala jananga’ (dominant caste); the opportunistic or pro-BJP Brahmins; and the ‘AHINDA’ (alpasankhyataru – minorities; hindulidavaru – backward castes; dalitaru  – Dalits) group, an alliance between backward-caste

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groups, Dalits and Muslims, ambitiously forged by Siddaramiah and his political allies. Even if the last group did not have the unity assumed by a section of journalists, Okkaligas, Brahmins, Lingayats and a small number of backward-class (Kuruba) journalists competed strongly to advance their interests. As the older balance of power between caste groups in the news field altered, it sparked ‘intense competition between castes for secular benefits’.44 The surest means of these struggles were alliances with the political class. In conjunction with caste-based rearrangements of the bureaucracy and the changed balance of power between various caste Mathas when a political leader of a certain caste group assumed the seat of power, power dynamics between journalistic caste groups changed periodically. Okkaliga reporters, like Kempanna, accused Brahmin journalists of being ‘soft’ on the BJP government (known for its stronger representation for Brahmins in the party ranks), in contrast to their string of critical stories against the JD(S) government led by H.D. Kumaraswamy, an Okkaliga. Often these complaints were laced with feelings of injustice to fellow caste members. A common description of these caste-based affective-instrumental ties was ‘olaisu’ (appeasement), which meant appeasing the politicians of the same caste groups through favorable news coverage and political advice, and ‘jati vyamoha’ (blind affection for the same caste group). These journalists were accused of being more steadfastly loyal to their caste politicians than the news companies employing them, often relaying news between opposing camps of politicians before they alerted their news chiefs. The most common good to circulate in these trust groups was gossip and information, and the most common beneficiaries were the politicians. Journalists were rewarded in return with cash and press accreditation. Many political parties cultivated a loyal breed of journalists with regular payments of varying sums of money to journalists, matching their stage of importance. Residential plots were another common currency. Such was the rush and intense lobbying for residential plots at concessional rates that journalists associations like the Bangalore Reporters’ Guild and the Press Club gained the (ill) reputation of being a real estate agency for the scribes. A section of journalists attracted the sobriquet of ‘site hunters’, some of whom were sharply ridiculed as ‘conkoja’ – commercial non-working journalists. Controversies regularly broke out over the allocation of plots for individual journalists or a group of lobbying journalists, even as politicians used this powerful enticement to keep the scribes on their side.45 A smaller group of journalists also brokered deals between politicians and government employees to effect or halt transfers, and used their ‘political connections’ to procure seats for their kin in educational institutions or third-party candidates for a sum.46 And a few prided themselves on being ‘the kingmakers’ – deciding the political

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fortunes of a large number of leaders by means of both news coverage and strategic lobbying. Like Hari, they were active in caste politics and money-mazes, determining which news stories should be broken and which should be buried. A senior Dalit journalist caustically described these networks as ‘kubjara santati’ – a clan of inferiors. Within the news field, there were thus blurred boundaries between affective bonds, instrumental ties and professional networking – these multiple strands often converging in caste identities. Hence, jati bala (caste-based strength), jati samīkaran￴a (caste attraction) and jati network (caste-based news networks) remained as interlinked aspects of journalistic sociality perpetuated by, and perpetuating, caste-based allegiances. A senior political reporter for a Kannada daily remarked sharply that caste had ‘gripped the news field like an octopus’. If caste possesses, in James Manor’s words, ‘material substance … [and] exists not only at the level of ideas but at the level of concrete social structure, at the level of action and interaction’, it was especially evident in the delimited field of news production.47 Within the highly divisive journalistic community, caste shaped the power struggles and affected access to professional assets for news-gathering such as strategic sociality, secret networks and trust groups. At the same time, it also affected what these journalists wrote in their newspapers – whether they promoted the interests of the political leaders of their own caste/ lobby groups or downplayed and trivialized others. Of the many journalists who took my questions on caste seriously, Janardhana was the most articulate. If some had skirted the question, others were visibly upset with my ‘petty’ curiosities. But Janardhana was eager to talk and made sure I wrote down his elaborate analysis of caste equations among journalists and the tightly woven tropes of ritual purity and professional competence. It was after several months that his caste identity was revealed to me by other colleagues. As a backward-caste member, Janardhana saw himself as a marginalized member of the journalistic community – his subjectivity was shaped by his struggles to survive the strategizing networks of intermediary caste groups as well as to overcome the debilitating ideology that construed ritual scruples as grounds for intellectual capacity and journalistic creativity. As he mentioned, the hold of ritual superiority was evident when even the seemingly ‘liberal’ English-educated Brahmin journalists derided incorrect English, revealing that ritual scruples had morphed into English grammatical accuracy in the purportedly secular field of English journalism. Caste, then, had a Janus-faced existence in the news field. Inasmuch it provided a resource for symbolic and political mobility for various groups, caste also systematically obscured severe forms of deprivation among the Dalits and backward-caste groups within the journalistic

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field. Reflecting the changing, yet strikingly static urban society, caste was either uncritically dismissed as incompatible with urban modernity or remained as a vehicle of aggressive self-promotion among journalistic groups of intermediate and upper-caste groups. It is important to understand caste precisely through these contradictory effects. It can be uncovered not as a category representing singular social or moral force, but as a complex arena of power where invoking caste could be enabling as well as deeply depriving. Together with the language ideologies, caste shaped news values that were markedly distinct from gathering information for an anonymous public  – an assumption running through much of Western media theories  – or for the new urban middle class assiduously targeted by the TOI-led elite English-language press. The corporate agenda of the elite English-language press could not but overlook caste practices in the larger news field, just as they had to contend with the more heterogeneous workforce within their own organizations. As I  have been arguing, if the meanings around ‘Kannada’ and caste practices shaped the trans-organizational social field of news production and affected Kannada journalists most strikingly, they were also salient among a section of English journalists who increasingly felt the disconnections between the management-led discourse of the new middle class and their lived experiences of the city. This was especially striking among a section of English journalists who saw themselves as ‘insiders’, and worked for The Hindu, The Indian Express and Deccan Herald, as well as the TOI. These fissures and the bhasha ethos within the English-language news field were similar to caste and Kannada insofar as they brought visibility to heterogeneous sections of the city population. In the next section I turn to understanding these fissures through the modular site of the TOI news floor.

Flux and fissures in the English-language news media

At the TOI, a strong organizational pedagogy and personal anguish of upper-caste journalists against the perceived injustice of the developmentalist state helped in cementing the normative critique of the state, as argued in Chapter 1. However, not all journalists within the paper readily accepted the deification of the corporate class. A  journalist recalled how he resisted describing the IT leaders as ‘software sages’. The first signs of friction in the English-language media thus emerged from the journalists themselves. Many journalists admitted that they were frustrated with the stringent management instructions on favorable coverage of the private sector, and blamed their ‘business caste’ masters for the unabashed hunger for profits. Many journalists

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complained against the pro-private-sector editorial policy and informal forms of censorship within the papers, while a few others were less candid and just ambiguous, but hardly any vociferously advocated the Times dictum on ‘corporate sages’. These journalists tried to push critical stories on the private sector even when they were aware that the stories might be muted, toned down or simply buried. Their frustration was especially marked when they had hit upon a scoop that could ‘create impact’ and spark widespread public discussions. Journalists at times subverted the management’s ‘pro-industry’ policies by secretly sharing the stories or giving the leads to professional colleagues working at rival newspapers. A  resourceful correspondent at the TOI revealed that: You have to be pro every industry. You cannot file negative stories, even if you know that there is something wrong. I know a lot of negative things about large software companies in Bangalore. But I  cannot sell these stories! Nobody will support me! I have had to shelve a lot of good stories. I sometimes give them to my colleagues outside the organization.48

This strategy perhaps had helped the journalist to stay on with the TOI. To my surprise, she remained one of the longest-surviving correspondents at the TOI’s Bangalore office, without even changing her business beat. A source of even deeper friction emerged from the contradictions between the management’s guidelines on the upwardly mobile cosmopolitan reader and the journalists’ everyday realities and lived experiences. These journalists infused contrasting narratives about the city, despite management guidelines to replicate a template of the aspirational city across the country privileging consumption ‘lifestyle’ and urban development projects. Many journalists joked about their paper’s ‘formula’, and told me that their jobs as a livelihood strategy should not be construed as their endorsement of what goes as news. ‘I feel ashamed about working in a newspaper,’ confided a journalist. ‘Some even charge at us for giving chaddi clad photos [scantily dressed women]. You give finkana, dimkana [fluff and piffle] and say it’s news!’ Some of the misgivings stemmed from journalists’ middle-class anxieties about a swelling city, since a fast-growing city would mean more migration, traffic and chaos. Combined with their training to recognize the value of fertile agricultural land, journalists debated vigorously in the editorial meetings on the merits of various urban developmental projects. In one such meeting at the TOI, the city reporting chief intervened in what had become a routine discussion over covering new industrial projects around the city. ‘How much agricultural land is taken away?’ she asked pointedly, throwing the business correspondents into a defensive position. ‘According to

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the city master plan, industry can come on this fertile land,’ replied the business correspondent, echoing the exact lines of the industry. ‘Giving away land like that!’ fumed the reporting chief, not satisfied with her colleague's technical reply. ‘The question is how big we want Bangalore to be,’ reasoned the business correspondent, in his usual soft tone. ‘We should ask how much fertile land is being thrown away, there have been many protests,’ insisted the reporting chief. Convinced that there is much that is questionable, the senior editorial member chairing the meeting assigned a reporter to cover the story, instructing him to dredge up evidence from all angles. If the private industry intermittently drew suspicion among the journalists, the cherished upper middle-class reader and corporate sages were even less convincing. Many senior management executives in the English-language dailies concurred that their reporters were nothing close to the upwardly mobile reader whom they were expected to incessantly appease. Although salaries for English journalists (and also Kannada journalists) had increased substantially in recent years, their everyday realities were far removed from the ideal globetrotting cosmopolitan reader with ‘infinite’ spending power. The income levels of a majority of English journalists at the entry-level and middle ranks ranged between 20,000 and 30,000 rupees (400 to 600 USD). Kannada journalists in similar ranks earned less than 20,000 rupees.49 Often, newspaper offices were located in older parts of the city that were markedly different from the landscaped campuses that constituted the cherished global workspaces of the high-tech workforce. These spatial and experiential disconnections indexed varied outcomes within the newsrooms. A senior management executive at the TOI mocked his junior colleague’s low opinion of older localities in the city (an opinion that was organizationally cultivated) to indicate this contradiction: ‘this joker’s [journalist’s] office is in Chamarajpet, one of the dirtiest places in the city, his office is just a step away from Kalasipalyam and he has the guts to talk about Basavanagudi like that!’ The contradiction between the habitus of the journalists, on the one hand, and the aspirational image of an upwardly mobile reader and a successful corporate icon, on the other, had become pronounced in the English-language dailies, including the TOI and BM, because of the greater crossover of journalists from the regional-language press. A sudden increase in the number of newspapers and television channels in the city had led to a severe shortage of skilled media workers, as with other news markets in India. At the same time, the enhanced focus on local news stories in the English-language dailies increased the need for local news expertise. English-language newspapers began to draw journalists from the

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Kannada news field to fill the vacant positions, as well as for their local news expertise. In recent years, this crossover had created a more mixed social background of journalists inside the English-media newsrooms. Journalists at the English-language dailies no longer came uniformly from upper-caste, upper-middle-class and metropolitan backgrounds.50 While they still constituted a wide majority, especially in the higher ranks as described in Chapter  3, the political and crime bureaus witnessed a flow of journalists from a wider caste/class background. Of the 49 reporters in the middle-rank and entry-level positions interviewed at the TOI and BM, 13 reporters (26  percent) did not belong to an upper-caste, upper-middle-class, metropolitan background. In contrast to their peers who had parents employed in the military, private banks, central government or private medicine, and spouses engaged in highly remunerative jobs in information technology, corporate law and electrical engineering, many cross-over journalists came from farming households or families owning petty business. The majority of them worked either in the crime or political bureaus, and belonged to intermediary castes – Okkaliga, Lingayat and Kodava (two were Muslims) – and came from provincial Karnataka – Coorg, Bellary, Gubbi and Mysore. Often, these journalists carried their closely held sentiments for issues of land and language, and carved out a niche within the overarching management policy of the Times sharing a similar sentiment among ‘metropolitan’ upper caste journalists who were cautiously critical of the management hype on world-class city. Because the reporters were strictly instructed to avoid writing on rural issues (especially if they were working in the Bangalore bureau), these sentiments resulted in stories about the urban poor, landlessness and growing resentment against the affluent global workforce in the city. In their act of imagined equivalence, a ‘genuine rural’ was transposed onto the helpless and marginal urban, markedly distinct from the dominant narratives of the entrepreneurial poor as subjects of middle-class charity. As M.K. Ashoka, a journalist who started his career in a regional-language district newspaper and had just joined BM, explained: We are focused, serious and want to make a good career. We did not want to go behind page 3 personalities. We used the space and experimented ourselves with society. I am interested in stories relating to special economic zones. There is so much land mafia. [pauses and suddenly switches to Kannada, the regional language] … navu nammadu anta bandbidutte [we instantly get this feeling of us and ours]. We become more caring. We don’t have the kind of ruthlessness that urban people have.

A man in his late twenties, Ashoka continued to be known among his peers as a sympathetic and conscientious journalist, who was also quick

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in grasping what really sold as news in his paper. In the context of the sudden expansion of news media fueling the workforce crunch and uneven development of the city, there was thus greater flux and contestation even within the elite English-language news domain. A  sense of frustration with the management’s editorial policies or nostalgia for the provincial roots among journalists shaped these subtle shifts in the newsroom, even as they were clearly on the margins of the top-down organizational culture. Some of the stories written by the relatively more heterogeneous workforce made it to publication because of the diverse beat structure of the papers resulting from enhanced focus on local stories and concomitant increase in the volume of stories on civic issues, crime, education and health. Although the TOI and other English-language newspapers continued to peddle a discourse of the decadent political class and aspirational corporate class, the stories were more variegated in the later years of the 2000s than in the early period of its re-launch. These newspapers had to now operate in a city that was far more contested and heterogeneous across ethnic and linguistic lines than in the early 1990s when the TOI heralded a celebratory discourse of rising Bangalore.51 At the same time, they had to reckon with greater flux and diversity within their own newsrooms. The nature of structured visibilities in the news field, primarily along the axes of language, caste and internal fissures of the English-language news media, can be neither construed naively as successful resistance to the neoliberal agenda nor dismissed as inconsequential aberrations. If anything, they suggest that the news field is much more variegated and contested than what a simple dominance-resistance model would suggest. The patterns of visibility made available by the heterogeneous news practices came into striking conflict with the visions of a world-class city, and the ideological arsenal of corporate excellence, a decadent state and an aspirational middle class constituting them. Globalization of capital, after all, ‘revives rather than buries the politics of development’,52 even as the meanings of development and modes of contestation to hegemonic alliance find new vehicles of expression in the news media, and new forms of exploitation emerge in these very mediated spaces.

Conclusion: Grounding news, grounding the global

My aim in this book has been to unravel globalization’s imprints on news in a postcolonial city set in the midst of rapid urban transformation. This was the city where a changing urban landscape stirred up new notions of news and publics, where modernist self-images of journalism encountered global capital’s collisions with the diverse cultural logics of news production. The city encapsulated the changes unleashed by mobile global capital and rearranged regional capital, where the professedly ‘public’ profession of journalism became both an object and agent of global urbanization. Yet, the imprints are far from a linear narrative of capital takeover. We saw how the variegated mediation of the bilingual print news media in this city shaped a shifting domain of politics that legitimized neoliberal reason, while also articulating deflections and contestations to class-exclusive projects of global modernity. At stake here is the very category of the ‘vernacular news media’ and its modernist counter-figure of the rational-critical English-language media. The unstable, fissured, yet effective forms of politics assembled through the cultural logic of the bhasha media refracts, reworks, satirizes and deflects the neoliberal consensus, even as it fails to articulate a progressive alternative to the technocratic visions of the city, opportunistic collusions of the political class with private industry or marginalization of the urban poor. At stake here is the mediating role of the news media in shaping a globalizing city, as they traverse the diverse logics of commercial expansion, transnational professionalism and journalistic sociality, as well as the ideologies of regional language and caste that entrench and constitute them. I have sought to demonstrate that the arenas of news production are fields of power, which, as Bourdieu points out, constitute a dialectical relationship between the struggles for dominance and difference among cultural producers and the struggles between the broader class groups they claim to serve and represent. Along the way, I  have also sought to illustrate how a detailed ethnographic mapping of news fields sheds light on the multiple logics framing news cultures, in ways that moves the normative position on journalism beyond the 202

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modernist assumptions of rational critical publics, and journalism studies beyond newsroom analysis. This exploration emphasizes that the consequences of media expansion cannot be captured with the evaluative divide between ‘dominance’ and ‘democratic resurgence’, and the epistemological divide between rationality and affect, or English modernity and vernacular ‘primordialism’. The twin mediations of desire and visibility unsettle these conceptual and evaluative divides, as global capital increasingly confronts and instigates diverse forms of value creation, in a milieu shaped by the interactional histories of colonial modernity, caste, religion and present-day global networks, as Peter van der Veer has insightfully argued.1 In such a milieu, mediated desire embodies new discourses around consumption, civic activism, cultural mobility, physical fitness, fashion and beauty, across the blurred boundaries of ‘objective’ news and ‘subjective’ reception. It fuels the neoliberal premises of the ‘negative’ state, responsibilized citizens and consumer modernity. Mediated desire does not suggest a formation free from ambiguity or imbued with an unchanging essence. However, as a regulative idea, it gained valence through the institutional shifts effected by leading English-language newspapers in urban India such as the Times of India, as with many commercial newspapers in the globalizing economies elsewhere in the South. Its potential for unusual partnerships and co-option was evident when the right-wing Hindu nationalist party (BJP) tapped the very discourse of decadent politics and the promise of New India fueled by the youth to rise back to power in the later years of liberalization (2014). Hindu nationalism’s politics centering on the utopia of the Hindu nation as a global power and its pro-market discourse in the liberalization years facilitated this co-option, although mediated desire originated through a different sensibility and a different set of motivations. Mediated desire finds its foil in democratic visibilities, which, with acts of visibilization, enhance, if not always guarantee, avenues of democratic participation for multiple urban publics. Democratic visibilities are structured in that they are the outcomes of diverse logics framing the news field, foremost of regional-language cultures and caste allegiances. These logics are not static emblems of sociality or permanent markers of public culture. Rather, as the cultural politics of Kannada and caste practices of journalists demonstrate, structured visibilities are enmeshed in contingent and historically inflected socialities, just as they are embedded within the changing dynamics of commercial news production and urban transformation. Patterns and performances of structured visibilities in Bangalore, as we saw, came into conflict with the visions of a ‘global city’, seeking to legitimate heterogeneous publics and their

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multiple claims on the transforming city. In the process, mediated publics and journalists shaped by the bhasha embodied a range of political subjectivities – from right-wing Hindutva, regional chauvinism and caste dominance to progressive pro-farmer and pro-poor positions. The fleeting nature of the bhasha and its varied manifestations elude easy normative positions. However, the challenge is to avoid jettisoning the political promise of the bhasha media – wherever it resides, in English, Kannada, Tamil or any language media – even as we become deeply aware of its potential to connive in conservative and opportunistic politics, in its efforts at subverting and snubbing neoliberal urban modernity or by just being there as an alternative space of articulating sociality and politics. Neither the progressive politics cast in a uniform template of class-based activism nor an outright dismissal of language movements as ethnocultural nationalism would bode well for efforts to locate the potential of struggles forged through the bhasha to bring diverse demands into media visibility and possible political redress. This becomes more important as the mainstream English-language media come increasingly under the control of big corporate capital, and large media houses begin to acquire regional-language news entities, at a time when broader structural inequalities continue to increase in liberalizing India.2 The analytical task is, then, to trace the genealogy of various claims and their intersections with media. This study does not reveal two exclusive domains of English- and regional-language journalism. Such a position is not only untenable, but completely wrong in the face of growing overlaps and mimesis between the English- and regional-language newspapers, and the common commercial ownership structure binding them (Chapter  3). If on the one hand English-language newspapers  – for their own legitimacy  – set in motion an array of representations of ‘regional cultures’ and ‘pro-poor’ human interest stories, Kannada newspapers enthusiastically, or under management direction, lapped up the narratives of urban mobility and consumption, just when the regional governments drew upon the symbolic resources of Kannada to attract investments from rich, non-resident Kannadigas in other countries.3 Equally, all the newspapers single-mindedly chased the interests of their reader publics, allowing the news content to vacillate to the vagaries of readership surveys. Although this might suggest that the mediated public domain is less plainly polarized and more in conjunction with, or perhaps uniformly wedded to, the consumerist visions of the world-class city, I have shown how the salience of the English–Kannada binary articulates a disjunction between global-urban desire and democratic visibilities, in ways that bhasha irrupts in the symbolic excess of Kannada and caste allegiances,

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rendering the neoliberal telos of urbanization incomplete and forever deferred as a coherent project. At the same time, the desire/visibility frame turns away from culturalist and particularist understanding of South Asia or the global South more broadly, and assumptions that there must be something essentially different with these ‘traditions’ and their journalism. Instead, it locates these media worlds and urban landscapes as part of a broader wave of globalization that arrives with its particular class project of capital accumulation, but faces and foments multiple contestations shaped by colonial history, postcolonial state structures and a rich repertoire of cultural practices that are themselves shifting. By way of conclusion, I make three interventions in the broader literature on news, democracy and globalization, to show how this analysis of a transforming news field in a postcolonial city prompts us to revisit some of the standing paradigms of Western media theory and received notions about the news media’s place in globalizing ‘Third World’ economies.

Beyond the public–private dichotomy

The framework of the desire/visibility disjunction, I suggest, can be generative in appraising the implications of the simultaneous expansion of media and market logic in the latest phase of globalization within postcolonial societies. It could, as a provisional way of framing the problem, overcome the limitations of the public/private division running through journalism scholarship and Western media theory more generally.4 While the protean character of the public/private dichotomy alludes to different spheres of distinction within various disciplinary traditions – ranging from liberal-economistic perspectives on the separation of the state and market economy to dramaturgical approaches to distinguish sociability from the intimate privacy and domesticity,5 or modernist oppositions between sacred private and secular public6 – studies of the news media have also deployed the distinction in diverse ways. In the liberal formulation and the modernist ideologies underpinning them,7 the news media’s primary address is in the public realm  – defined in contradistinction to the private realms of family and presumed to be constituted by ‘audience-oriented subjectivity’ as the originary moment of the public sphere.8 In Marxist accounts of the media, the private interests of commercial media producers (the capitalist class) overpower journalism’s purported public functions.9 Within microsociological studies of news production in symbolic-interactionist traditions, ‘private’ is captured as personal and psychological: private influence of prejudices and attitudes of journalists bear upon the news content and deflect the public character

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of the press.10 Deeply mindful of the ‘intimate’ nature of newspaper reading, a long tradition within media studies has framed journalism as reading experiences unfolding within the ‘private’ realm of the reader-subject, taking a cue from Hegel who spoke of newspapers as replacing the ritual of morning prayers for the modern man.11 Benedict Anderson (1991) took this insight to develop an influential thesis on imagined communities charged by the shared practice of reading newspapers. In these approaches, there are links drawn between the private space of newspaper consumption and the effects of this private consumption on the nature of politics and what is marked as the public domain. The conceptual distinction between the ‘private’ and ‘public’ is, however, presupposed in all these accounts:  between ‘private’ psychological effects and the public domain of politics; public discourse versus the private interests of the capitalist class; the public domain of rational-critical discourse in contradistinction to private spheres of family and affect, and so on. That such a dichotomy holds sway in Western theoretical imagination is understandable; the concepts of ‘publicness’ and ‘privateness’ and the distinction between them are ‘profoundly important … in western societies’, as Benn and Gaus note.12 By conceptualizing the twin avatar of journalism as desire and democratic visibility, I have sought to move beyond the dichotomy posed in these diverse strands of journalism literature, especially those that draw a distinction between commercial media and public service (development) media. If critics of commercial news media often point to the emergence of a homogeneous consumer public, public service proponents rue the demise of serious journalism and its role in fostering a homogeneous rational public. Optimists, on the other hand, claim that the proliferating media have created multiple spaces for multiple publics. In both the accounts not only are the particular logics operating within the news field elided, but the particular histories of different regions and their new encounters with global capital are inadequately addressed. This study has reformulated the problem of public good and private accumulation as a problem of a tension between mediated desire and mediated democratic visibility. Such a formulation allows us to avoid reductionist accounts of commercial media as merely serving private interests, and the utopian accounts of an explosion in media-enabled deliberative democracy.13 Instead, it conceptually opens up the possibility of ‘excess of practice’ inhering in the commercial model of news production, and in its interface with the larger social field within which it is embedded. While commercial media are firmly anchored to their private interests, the consequences of media visibility opened up by the media are not exhausted by their commercial rationality. On the other hand, media

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expansion need not always embody expansion of public rights precisely because journalism’s mediation is not always ‘public’  – inclusive and non-private  – in nature. The growing influence of global and regional capital has resulted in a new fashioning of nexuses between public and private modes of journalism’s address to its audiences. The Indian news media’s reinvented approach to its audiences and its relation with state and market forces suggests new ways to yoke together the private realms of consumption and civic participation, even as they increasingly inscribe the audiences in the narratives of aspirations around body, lifestyle and leisure. To formulate journalism’s mediation in terms of ‘desire’ is to bring these nexuses to the fore, without falling into the reductionist accounts of commercial media. It is also to recognize the commercial news media’s mediations for non-material forms of property and their entanglement with the neoliberal salience of market rationality. The growing regimes of desire allude to the predominance of non-material forms of property that require, as Arvind Rajagopal brilliantly argues, ‘public dissemination to ensure their realization as privately appropriated value’ in the current phase of globalization of capital.14 In this sense, journalism has come under the deep influence of globalization not only via global media or global capital as many studies have shown, but by the regimes of desire that propel new arrangements of space, consumption and citizenship in liberalizing economies. The nature and implications of this mediation resonate within a broader swathe of globalizing cities that are increasingly anchored to ideologies of entrepreneurial cities, urban innovation and urban branding as well as intensified forms of consumption woven into what Guano terms as ‘shoppinización’.15 While I  capture the co-extensive realms of ‘private’ and ‘public’ in capital’s drive for accumulation in the latest phase of globalization with the concept of ‘desire’, ‘structured visibility’ indexes another aspect of the blurring of the public–private distinction within postcolonial contexts, especially in the delimited area of news production that is the focus of this study. The discussions on language ideologies and caste suggest that the mediated public domain in India, although analytically distinct from the ‘private’ sphere of family, is nevertheless imbricated in kinship and land metaphors cast on the grounds of language- and caste-based solidarities. They draw on the blurred boundaries of publicness and privateness entailed in these sentiments and allegiances, in their everyday negotiations with urban transformation. The dynamics of the journalism–public relationship then gets defined by tensions between what journalism coalesces as democratic politics of visibility, and what it co-constructs as legitimate desire, which together challenge public/

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private distinctions and compel us to contextualize such influential paradigms within journalism studies and media anthropology.

Chaos or patterned permeations?

My second set of interventions concern an influential strand of journalism theories, which has emerged especially after the explosive growth of information technologies in the 1990s. This growing body of work has proposed to overturn some of the long-standing perspectives on the media’s democratic enactments. There is an undercurrent of technicism, active audience claims of cultural studies as well as liberal pluralist contentions in these optimistic appraisals of information revolution. According to Brian McNair, who sets out to inaugurate a ‘new sociology of journalism beyond the competition [liberal-pluralistic]  – dominance [critical Marxist] dichotomy’, the sheer expansion and intensification of information flows prevent any possibility of ideological domination.16 The current information and media boom have thus replaced ruling-class ideological control with ‘mass cultural information chaos’, leading to an explosion of multiple perspectives. John Hartley takes the optimistic vein a step further to contend that conventional media studies assume a top-down approach and excessively focus on media firms and producers.17 In line with other post-structures such as network culture, the knowledge economy, immaterial labor, general intellect, free software and creative commons, he develops a model of cultural production that insists that the ‘industry’ paradigm for media production is today irrelevant since the emerging networks have radically reconfigured the relationship between producer and consumer.18 The standard linear model for communication proposed by Claude Shannon in 1948 is thus no longer relevant, as the new networked technologies are two-way, peer-to-peer, dialogical, interactive and often self-made:  ‘Instead of an industry doing things to people, here was a market where things are done by people. They were the source not the destination of mediated meanings.’19 Assuming the unprecedented agency of the audiences on these new technologies, Hartley, rather provocatively, challenges the entire Marxist and structuralist tradition, especially the paradigmatic Althussarian conception of interpellation of subjects by structures of power. The result is a shift from one-way broadcasting model to a networked broadband model constituted by consumers who are linked in social networks, and in which ‘productive energy can come from anywhere in the system’. According to Hartley and a growing number of digital media scholars, the new network model promises new forms of polity and new citizenships, so much so that the passive audience is transformed

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into the ‘critical-creative-citizen-consumer’. Theoretical moves should then involve replacing the term industry with market; the conceptual framework of control with sharing and supply-driven dynamic with a demand-driven dynamic.20 Marketplace is different from industry in that the agents interact freely to exchange money, attention, connectivity or ideas for mutual benefit: ‘Individuals originate ideas; networks adopt them; enterprises retain them.’21 As is strikingly evident from Hartley’s analysis, the network model rests on the resurrection of an autonomous subject, this time assumed to be doubly empowered through the expanding networks of information technology. McNair’s key contention that journalism disseminates ideas that aspire for domination but never achieve it is useful in pointing to the growing complexity of ideological domination and the variegated nature of the news terrain, as this book has also demonstrated. However, the chaos model risks overstating the aspect of fragmentation and equating media expansion with media access. In the open-network model of Hartley and the chaos model of McNair, little allowance is made for the fact that news organizations as profit-seeking entities continue to exist, with an inherent tendency to consolidate news markets. As I have argued in Chapter 2, the organizational and business strategies of commercial news production, under pressure to transform the monological medium into one of dynamic interactions, disrupt the potential of news content to transform into chaotic and unpredictable flows, even less empowering the readers solely on the basis of expanding media technologies and new media. While this certainly does not suggest the passive audiences of mass culture or deny the effects of new media communication on ‘traditional’ media, the systematic reproduction of disjunctive mediations of desire and visibility is a commentary on how publics do not always openly and randomly use media avenues for their benefit or ‘autonomous’ interests, but dialectically in relation with what the newspaper managements consider as important for their markets and journalists as social actors imagine as important for their readers. As we saw in the numerous city campaigns of the Times of India (TOI), the organizational practice of patterned permeations signals new efforts of the commercial mainstream newspapers to co-opt the new media and enlist readers in close conformity with the marketing and circulation strategies of the paper. Often, the TOI pre-empted the interactive capacity of the new media and itself spurred ‘connectivity’ to flood the interactive media sphere with its vision of middle-class and corporate-driven urban development agendas. These patterned permeations remove the newsrooms as random access points for diverse publics, to bring them in line with the rationale of lucrative readerships. The Times group was at the forefront

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in redefining newspaper visits as patterned permeations. The newspaper enlisted selected groups of readers through physical visits to the newsroom, inducted blog entries as reader columns, arranged guest editions and other visits by celebrities drawn from various fields defined as relevant for the new middle class, and organized reader-connect events set in the aspirational frame of a world-class city. Without doubt, by the turn of the millennium, peer-to-peer channels ramped up new political activism in India, as elsewhere in the world, and new, non-legacy political parties emerged, relying precisely on the avenues of organization unleashed by social media networking. The Aam Aadmi Party’s (the common man’s party; AAP) rise in the 2000s is a case in point. As an urban party challenging governmental corruption, the AAP made an impressive foray into electoral politics when it won the Delhi state elections in 2013. By their own admission, the AAP benefited hugely from social media  – from organizing the movement to upholding its mission among the youth. However, the democratic potential of new media, inscribed as such by the literate middle-class groups in a country like India, constantly meets with the class project of patterned permeations of commercial media and their strategies to enlist ‘monetizable’ audiences. The sudden outburst of negative reports on the AAP in 2014 testifies to the middle-class, pro-business nature of mediated activism fueled by the English-language media. No doubt, the party’s public image was dented by the somersault political gestures of its anchorman Arvind Kejriwal, but the increasingly socialist tenor of its promises found fewer media allies in the later years. Although the AAP represented a moment when desire and visibility became deeply co-constitutive rather than remaining as two unrelated mediations, the desire discourse overwhelmed the surge of visibilities when the English-language media and a section of the regional-language media emphatically turned their back on activism that had ‘gone out of hand’. The limits of social media are suggested. A softened and ‘pragmatic’ Kejriwal emerged soon after, contesting and winning the Delhi elections again in 2015. Further by the fact that online users rely on the narratives and stock tropes of the mainstream media for any ‘peer-to-peer’ communication, especially after organized media producers populated the medium in large numbers, just when social media came increasingly under market scrutiny.22 Moreover, political parties started to tap social media potential more aggressively in the 2000s. The BJP’s strategic foray into social media prompted the mainstream media to regularly reference Twitter feeds and YouTtube posts in the news discourse as part of their political coverage. In these years, political microblogging in India was increasingly subjected to organized ideological production by the

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BJP and later by the Indian National Congress, admittedly on a much smaller scale.23 These dynamics reveal the intermedial, market regulated and politically structured spaces of information augmentation. This also signals, as Mark Andrejevik describes, ‘digital enclosures’ of market and political surveillance promising online interactions as a cybernetic commodity or political party loyalty, which entails neither an indubitable architecture of fragmentation nor the absolute promise of online users as autonomous procumers setting out on paths of information freedom.24 In a sense, this brings us back to news as organized forms of production as well as social fields, not determined by any essential, elementary logic, yet profoundly reshaping the city and notions of what this globalizing local ought to mean for the millions inhabiting it.

Local/global dialectic: the mediatized ‘hyperlocal’

For these last set of questions about mediations of ‘the local’ in an age of news explosion, let us briefly revisit the Pink Chaddi campaign as an extreme instance of what might be seen as a disjunction between mediated desire and structured democratic visibility. As I discussed at the beginning, the campaign drew divergent news coverage, framed in the ethico-moral discourse around woman’s sexuality. Between TOI and VK the divergence was striking. Journalists were agitated about the turn of events, although never in agreement on where the blame should lie. Inside the TOI, I noticed a more organized editorial policy at work. The Times management’s decision within the TOI to emphasize local news was accompanied by the installation of a ‘formulaic’ local, which, along with its ‘globalness’ and ‘cosmopolitanism,’ had distinct cultural traits marked as free-spirited, youth-friendly and urbane. On the one hand, it promoted a ‘libertarian’ self-perspective and, therefore, upheld free will and individual freedom. On the other hand, celebratory discourses of lifestyle and fitness were bound up with ‘aspirational’ icons such as successful corporate leaders, fashion gurus and new-age spiritual healers. Thus, both liberal and neoliberal discourses of self, individuality and self-discipline pervaded the meaning of the TOI’s ‘ideal local’, set within the overarching context of global consumerist modernity. This formulaic global local, ideally occupied by free-spirited youth, came out in full support of the Pink Chaddi campaigners and raised an offensive against the attackers through voluminous coverage of the issue, after framing the episode as evidence of ‘Talibanization’. As I  navigated between different newsrooms, the discourses changed significantly, and the aggressive posturing of each faction often demanded that I concede their reasoning. A senior member of the editorial team asserted the TOI’s position during one increasingly heated exchange:

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K:

We are progressive. How can Talibanization be allowed in Karnataka? Where does this cultural vision come from? K: Again, again … The Times Group’s vision. We have been told  – we have editorial meetings at the highest level and we keep taking notes – this is our thinking. This is what we should do. This is Times philosophy. Whenever such things happen [it says] take a strong stand. Get at it, people will like it. It is a big issue! SU :

Concurrent with the ‘Times philosophy’, news stories aggressively opposed the attacks to ‘reflect’ the anguish of youth. ‘Stop this emosanalatyachar [emotional harassment]’, urged a headline in the TOI, followed by consistent support of the Pink Chaddi campaigners through vibrant visual representations, favorable editorials and wide coverage in the news columns. In its explicit support for the protest, the paper cited unnamed feminists who compared the campaign to the ‘bra burning’ movement in the United States in the 1960s and the ‘Take Back the Night’ campaign projected as a global movement since the early 1990s. Although the campaign was initiated through the new social media and sparked interest across several e-enabled groups around the world on Facebook, it stood little chance of scaling up its effect within the country without the support of English-language newspapers such as the TOI, Daily News and Analysis (DNA) and Deccan Chronicle and their collective discourse on the ‘global city’, which inscribed e-enabled urbanites as their audience proper. Most prominently within the TOI, the Pink Chaddi campaign and Valentine’s Day celebrations emerged as crucial symbolic elements of the paper’s larger emphasis on youth culture and gendered urban modernity, in which the images of youth and of urban women as consumers were emblematic of the ‘emancipatory potential’ of privatization and globalization. The episode grew into a political controversy when opposition parties questioned the ruling BJP government’s competence in handling and possible connivance in the attacks, and various interest groups sparred over the parameters of public morality. Newspapers in the city, across the language spectrum, wrote extensively on various dimensions of the story. No leading Kannada newspaper directly supported the attacks. Editorials in the Kannada dailies not only condemned them but also urged the government to protect ordinary citizens from violent politics. Even pro-Kannada activist groups such as Kannad￳a Caluvali V atal Paksa (Kannada Movement Party) and a faction of Karnataka Raksan￴a V  e‫ﷳ‬dike (Karnataka Protection Forum) condemned Sri Rama Sene for ‘harping on Valentine’s day celebration’, revealing the competitive cultural politics of Kannada and the activist groups’ concerns over the Hindu right’s co-option of Kannada sensibility. However, despite the ambiguities and

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variances, what was striking about the coverage by some in the Kannada press was the repeated attempt to debunk the English-language media’s cultural marking of the local as ‘free-going’ and ‘cosmopolitan’. The discourse in the Kannada press was underscored as much by antagonism toward the English-language press as by its own belief in the infringement of ‘big metros’ and ‘global place’ on local cultural autonomy. The allegations of moral pollution made their way into the Kannada news field as legitimate and serious concerns of an ‘authentic Kannada public’, assumed to be at once rooted, rural-provincial and threatened by cultural invasion. In one of the bylined columns in VK, a news correspondent expressed his anxiety: In their zeal to condemn the attackers, the national [English-language] media have ended up projecting alcohol consumption as part of our culture. They are showing it as women’s right … They have urged women to hold their glasses high!! [Such] media reports are more horrible than the conduct of Sri Rama Sene activists who attacked the pub!’

The particular territorial imaginations of global modernity as metropolitan, in contrast to a rooted, local culture of the rural and provisional, shaped the Kannada journalists’ approach to the campaign, even as the hypervisibility of a group of urban women and their interpellation as consuming subjects under globalization dovetailed with the ‘new middle class’ discourse of the TOI, deepening the controversy along the gender axis. Many articles in the Kannada press openly criticized the English-language media, euphemized as the ‘national’ media, for sentimentalizing and exaggerating the controversy. They argued that pub culture would unleash other social evils such as illicit relationships, rape, murder and gambling. Several Kannada newspapers questioned the English-language media’s moral justification for openly advocating pub culture. Journalists at VK were determined to give minimal coverage to the Pink Chaddi campaigners because they envisioned Kannada news publics as different from the English news publics. The episode, according to some Kannada journalists, exposed the hypocrisy of the English-language press. They accused the English-language press of class and urban bias and of blatantly abandoning objectivity to side with the Pink Chaddi campaigners. When I  raised the issue of the Pink Chaddi campaign at VK, a visibly upset senior editorial member vented his anger by directly challenging the TOI discourse: Why should we campaign for the Pink Chaddi protest? What purpose will it serve? Our stand is that we have nothing to do with the Valentine’s Day. What is there in this issue [to fight for]? We have better things to report. Women are harassed in garment factories. Which English papers have written about them?

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[his voice turns sharper with impatience and anger] Is it a story for them if there is no water supply in a locality for one week? No! It is not! They write about traffic jams! And, Coke, Pepsi and PVR! They have abandoned the tenet of objectivity!

The Kannada news field’s critique of the TOI’s hypercommercial news ethos, even by Kannada papers belonging to the Times group, revealed modes of articulation between Kannada ideologies of territorialized culture, on the one hand, and journalistic ethics, objectivity and resistance to the classist underpinnings of global modernity, on the other. This articulated conjunction, however, also embraced readily available Hindu-right politics, since the culturalist critiques of the Hindutva forces overlapped and converged with the Kannada journalists’ own discomfort with the embrace of global modernity. This was most striking when the female body was summoned as the site of contestation.25 In the later years of the TOI’s acquisition, the scenario had changed markedly. Just when I had started my fieldwork, many senior executives of the Times group told me that the group wanted to steer clear of VK’s rabidly pro-Hindutva image, and adopt a more ideologically ‘neutral’ position. When I revisited the newsrooms in 2012, I did not hear much about the toning down of the Hindutva slant, but heard journalists in VK lamenting the import of the TOI formula of urban news and celebrity journalism. Beginning with significant restructuring of the editorial staff in 2010, including the ousting of editor Vishveshwara Bhat and other key editorial members, the management introduced several changes in the organization to ensure active collaboration between marketing executives and the editorial staff. A new team of journalists had taken over, with just a handful of the old staff who had hung on out of practical compulsions or sheer indifference to the new management’s revised editorial policies. The supplements of VK had undergone a makeover. There were flashy pictures of local film stars and Bollywood stars in form-fitting clothing, real estate advertisements, Page 3 parties and gossip columns, bordering on salacious visual aesthetics of tabloids. The management started inserting advertisement-driven and paid content within VK. With a staunchly anti-Hindutva editor at the helm, the paper’s political ideology looked different from its previous avatar even though journalists did not openly talk about it. Even so, the ethos of the bhasha media had not disappeared. It had migrated – in all its foibles and promises – to Kannada Prabha, the Kannada newspaper now owned by a right-wing Hindu nationalist party member. Even on the VK news floor where management guidelines and strictures grew harder by the day, allegiances to bhasha persisted in renewed vigor, if often obliquely. The persistence of bhasha, and the deep antagonisms within the news field flaring up and co-constituting the Pink

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Chaddi campaign, Bengaluru Habba, the international airport project and a range of civic controversies, as we saw throughout the book, reflect the larger ruptures underlying divergent claims on the globalizing city and Bangalore’s promise for urban India as the gateway for the global market. How does this speak to the ways in which localities are framed, experienced and lived in an age of momentous globalization? What of the burgeoning globalization scholarship that has shown the growing interpenetration of spaces across national borders? There is indeed little disagreement in the globalization literature today that the fixity and boundedness of places is being replaced by what Anthony Giddens has described as ‘phantasmagoric locales thoroughly penetrated by and shaped in terms of social influences quite distant from them’.26 Ulrich Beck and Ulf Hannerz recognize this reconfiguration as arising from new forms of cosmopolitanism that have overturned the inside–outside episteme of nation-states, paving the way for closely integrated spaces in which the distinction between national and international is transcended by a ‘both inside and outside’.27 Within anthropology, a growing number of studies recognize the local as a completely transformed space with multiple registers of globality and locality.28 Another influential strand of scholarship proposes that the local should be understood as much temporally as spatially since it signals a ‘structure of feeling, affect, temporality and relatedness in which the dyad global-local becomes nonsensical as a nested or spatialized opposition’.29 Arjun Appadurai and Carol A.  Breckenridge, Faye Ginsburg and Fredric Jameson, among others, place media communication at the core of globalization’s reconfigured social relations, as it disembeds them from local contexts and rearranges them across ‘infinite spaces of time-space’.30 As Simon Cottle rightly notes, influential theorists of globalization have all recognized the constitutive role of media communication in globalization processes.31 If several globalization theorists contend that media are at once globalization’s ‘infrastructural means and its privileged signs’,32 Appadurai and Breckenridge point to media as central to ‘imagination’ within the reconfigured landscapes, which are suffused with images circulating across spaces; that is, the media ‘impel  … the work of imagination’.33 Yet, the existing literature on globalization pays little attention to the dynamics of the news media at regional and national levels, which compel and shape the ‘impelling’ of imagination. This book has provided one approach to address these questions, by mapping the diverse cultural practices of a news field in a postcolonial globalizing city, where the conventions of news, convictions of journalists and deeply entrenched struggles for difference among news companies shaped and reshaped

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a constantly mutating field of contesting claims on ‘the local’. I  have sought to show that such a news field – its army of workers, its imagined audiences, its promise and pitfalls – and all the contingent nodes of politics they engage in the process are at the core of new linkages between global imaginations and rearranged localities, and are thus crucial for any serious understanding of globalization processes. This is also a way to complicate the master narrative about global media as a global institution of control that embodies the heterogenizing production of culture and locality.34 The second point is about the nature of mediated localities.35 Although globalization theorists are right in emphasizing the increasing flow of images, people and capital, the outcomes of such flows are varied and complex, as several scholars have already elaborated. Attention to the internal workings of the news media suggests that the uneven flows of globality relate directly to the unevenness within the field of the news media and to struggles for dominance. Even as local spaces become more and more fluid because of the pervasive flows of globality, processes of precipitation harden and sharpen boundaries within everyday and imagined localities in response to these very processes of mediated flows and discourses, as was evident in several reterritorializing moves of bhasha in urban controversies. Mediascapes and other spaces of global flows, therefore, do not always divorce locality from parochiality and particularistic identities, as other scholars like Satish Deshpande have also forcefully argued.36 As Stuart Hall suggests, globalization may lead to an ‘even deeper trough of defensive exclusivism’, both in the spaces of the global postmodern and the marginal local.37 ‘A new world-space of cultural production’, to follow Wilson and Dissanayake’s compelling formulation, is ‘simultaneously becoming more globalized (unified around dynamics of capitalogic moving across borders) and more localized (fragmented into contestory enclaves of difference, coalition, and resistance) in everyday texture and composition’.38 Equally important, a mediatized local emerges as intensified hyperlocality where stakes over the local are more keenly fought and contested. The workings of the commercial news media are deeply imbricated in these struggles. Commercial news organizations’ efforts to locate and fashion distinct audience geographies as well as the ways in which they enter into a dialectical relation with wider social struggles for material and symbolic resources shape intensified localities where cultural meanings get objectified and gain political velocity. Thus, a conception of local–global both as an internal heuristic for news professionals to get a sense of their audiences and as a larger discursive structure of transnational capital bearing on the news media would enable us to recognize

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the processes of precipitation that sharpen the boundaries between communities and news publics and to critically explore their ramifications. Commensuration and correspondence between struggles within the field of news production and structures of ‘the local’, then, should be explored and accounted for through a grounded understanding of the multiple moves of globalization. While it is extremely important to focus on the workings of the media, a comprehensive account also needs to refocus on the workings inside the media. This, among other things, means that local–global formations are embedded in the dynamics of translocal and reterritorialized fields of news and, therefore, cannot be reduced to generalized claims advanced either by pessimists of cultural homogeneity and capital-imprinted difference or by optimists of local resistance. Rather than considering localities as mere outcomes of difference-producing capitalist machinery or as authentic, pre-existing sites of cultural common sense, it is fruitful to examine the web of mediations and divergent practices of the media. This is especially pertinent at a time when the local has gained significance for the news media as at once an object of representation and a mediating context. Many cities in the global South today experience similar shifts in news cultures and diverse instantiations of the local as they increasingly are drawn into global urbanization. The embedded structures of sociality and entrenched power confront global capital, as news media create arenas of public participation for even those who are reluctant and disinterested. Yet if this study can show how bhasha can irrupt in the very face of the commercial media and the class project of the world-class city discourse, bhasha, in the sign of the regional-language and caste socialities, is also caught up by its own past and new iterations of opportunistic politics. Desire and visibility meet their own limits, while unleashing new hopes of a resurgent India, an India on the rise.

Notes

Introduction: Urban deadlines – The twin mediations 1 Adiga (2008). 2 According to industry estimates, satellite and cable television reached more than 450 million homes and close to 70 percent of households in urban India in 2013 – the third largest in the world in viewership size, after China and the United States. Between 1995 and 2007, over 300 satellite networks entered the Indian market. More than 50 of the new satellite networks were 24-hour satellite news channels, broadcasting news in 11 different languages  – the equivalent of more than 50 Indian CNNs (Mehta 2008). 3 This data is derived from the World Newspaper Congress held in Hyderabad, India, in 2009. According to the Congress report, India had the largest paid-for daily circulation of newspapers, surpassing China for the first time in 2008. 4 The Times of India, started in the colonial period, is owned and managed by the Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited, a domestic media company with interests in print, television and online media. The ownership of the newspaper changed hands several times since its launch in 1838 (as the Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce). In 1892, it was bought by British businessmen in India, Thomas Bennett and Frank Morris Coleman, through their company Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited. Media historians categorize the colonial Times of India as an ‘establishment paper’, which represented the interests of the colonial government (Sonwalkar 2002: 823–824). In 1946, the company was purchased by the Dalmiyas, an industrial family in India. Ramkrishna Dalmiya, who had bought the paper, sold it to his son-inlaw Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain, a businessman from North India, in 1948. The paper has remained with the Sahu Jains since then, except for a brief period in the 1960s when Shanti Prasad Jain was arrested on charges of selling the newsprint on the black market. Since the 1990s, the paper has been managed by Samir Jain and Vineet Jain, grandsons of Shanti Prasad Jain. 5 Vijaya Sankeshwara, a businessman and ambitious politician, started Vijaya Karnataka (VK; Kannada news daily), in 1998. Backed by a flourishing business in road transportation and publishing, Sankeshwara became a member of parliament as a candidate from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) thrice since 1996, but abandoned the BJP in subsequent years to launch his own regional party (Kannada Nadu – Kannada nation) in 2004 and retreated from active politics after an electoral debacle and failed attempts to rise within other political parties such as Janata Dal (Secular). VK overtook Prajavani in circulation in 2001, ending decades of predominance 218

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of Prajavani in southern Karnataka, even as Sankeshwara’s English-language daily, Vijay Times (English broadsheet), started in 2002, expanded its circulation in many parts of the state except Bangalore (Chandrasekhar 2004). 6 Roy (2003: 7). 7 See Benjamin (2000); Goldman (2011); Heitzman (2004); Nair (2005); Upadhya and Vasavi (2008). 8 Castells (2000); Harvey (2010). 9 In the colonial era, Bangalore (its official name until 2006) had two parts: one was a military cantonment town for the British Empire and the other was the ‘old city’ that came under the rule of the princely state of Mysore headed by a monarchy (the Wodeyars). Cantonment Bangalore was under the direct control of the Empire and had many British settlements and Tamil migrants who served the colonial bureaucracy. The ‘old city’ in the southern parts had a largely Kannadiga population representing various occupational castes and status caste groups.The Mysore monarchy was known for its uptake for formal education in the British model, legal reforms and modern industries, which contributed to its image as a ‘modern’ princely state. For a detailed history of the modernizing politics of the Wodeyars and the expansion of ‘monarchical modern’, see Nair (2011). The modernizing measures aimed at greater industrialization were further bolstered by the postcolonial Indian state’s emphasis on heavy industries such as aeronautics, electrical goods and instrumentation, which were shaped by the avowed principles of import substitution and technological growth. In 2006, the sustained efforts of prominent Kannada litterateurs, activists and a section of politicians led to the renaming of the city to its precolonial native use of ‘Bengaluru’. However, to reflect what was widely prevalent in the common usage throughout my fieldwork, I retain the name ‘Bangalore’ in the rest of the book. I use ‘Bengaluru’ while citing quotations in Kannada or when research participants referred to it by this name. Bangalore became the capital city of the unified Kannada-speaking regions after national independence, while Mysore, the capital city for the Wodeyars, remained as the second largest city in the region. Mysore was also the first name of the unified Kannada-speaking state after independence. The state was renamed Karnataka in 1973. Mysore was drawn in the urban developmental visions in the later years as a potential twin city for Bangalore’s high-tech corridors. Chapter 4 discusses this further. 10 This was the time when new urban policies led to greater dependence on the World Bank and other external agencies for local development activities, most prominently the city’s physical infrastructure. It coincided with the World Bank shifting its reform agenda to the subnational states in the late 1990s, when Karnataka became one of the three focus states for the bank’s structural adjustment lending and governance reforms. Beginning in June 2001, two Economic Restructuring Loans for 6.76 billion rupees (150  million USD) and 4.51 billion rupees (100  million USD) by the bank funded a wide spectrum of activities, including measures for fiscal stabilization, reforms to promote trade and increased foreign direct investment, privatization of public-sector enterprises, new labor legislation and e-governance. 11 Upadhya (2009).

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Notes to pages 4–5

12 Brosius (2010); Roy and Ong (2011). The urban renewal agenda in the liberalization years was evident in other large cities such as Mumbai and Delhi. However, the trajectory of urban transformation was distinct in each of them. In Mumbai the textiles-based industrial core declined sharply in the 1980s, paving the way for speculative real estate and new urban development plans. In the 1990s, the regional government declared its developmental vision to transform the city into a global financial services center modeled on Singapore (Parthasarathy 2011). In Delhi, the world-class city agenda drew on global templates of urban sanitation and infrastructure as well as new forms of middle-class civic activism (Baviskar 2003). 13 Athique (2012); Jeffrey (2000); McDowell (1997); Mehta (2008); Parameswaran (2004); Parthasarathi (2010); Peterson (2010); Rajagopal (2001); Rao (2010); Sonwalkar (2002); Stalhberg (2002); Thussu (2007). No study suggests a linear transformation of news media from ‘nationalist’ and ‘developmentalist’ to commercial media. However, despite the heterogeneity of the pre-independence print media, which included the pro-British Anglo-Indian press and commercial news publication (Israel 1994; Nair 2003), the Gandhian era of the liberation struggle cemented the vision of the press as a vehicle for social service, ideally supported by a subscription-based revenue model. The twin principles of patriotism and self-financing through a subscription-based revenue model underlined many nationalist leaders’ active engagement with journalism, even as several middle-class intellectuals invested personal savings and started small newspapers to advance their interests in literature, small enterprise and religion. In the decades following independence, the press was inscribed into the national, secular developmental vision of the newly independent Indian nation, most famously termed as ‘Nehruvianism’, when state-led development and planning were ‘supported by Cold War geopolitics and global circuits of development ideology’ (Chari 2004: 35; Das Gupta 1977; Israel 1994; Jagannathan 1999; Raghavan 1994). This period was also marked by greater state control of the press, since media enterprises were dependent on the state for a number of direct and indirect favors, including allocation of newsprint, import of technology and licenses (Jeffrey 2000). On the other hand, adversarial politics brewing up in the late 1970s at the regional level signaled a parallel aspect of media-led democratization that was under way. Following the national Emergency in 1975, a section of the press became sharply critical of the ruling Indian National Congress government, giving voice to the simmering frustration among a large section of rural elites (Chari 2004) and upper-caste, middle-class segments against the ‘dirigiste status quo’ as well as the authoritarian politics of Congress leaders (Khilnani 1999; Rajagopal 2001). The Emergency years, most readily recalled by journalists as ‘the dark years of Indian journalism’, continued to shape memories of injustice within the news field and advanced the ideas of adversarial journalism at least within a section of the press most directly affected by the restrictions of Emergency. At the same time, there was ‘a shift in the state policy from press control to cooptation of “big” newspapers after national emergency’ (Jeffrey 2000: 191–192). The convergence between state and business interests became predominant in the years of liberalization (Rajagopal 2001), even as technological advancements in printing

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and distribution helped the news proprietors to increase circulation volumes and expand markets. In the years following 1990, the business interests of the news proprietors were thus brought to the center stage. 14 Curran (2002); Turner (1999: 75). 15 Hughes (2006: 21); Sparks and Tulloch (2000). 16 Ambirajan (2000); Bidwai (1996); Chaudhury (2010); Lewis (1997); Shah (1994); Sonwalkar (2002); Thussu (2007). 17 Neyazi (2011); Ninan (2007). 18 By noting that there are distinct cultural logics of news, I do not propose that these logics are always internal to the news discourse or to the institution of news media. They evolve as news media intersect with broader social-political forces. However, there are also logics that are specific to news media as a distinct institution. Chapter 2 discusses this through what is defined as the logic of immediation. Later sections of this chapter will discuss Bourdieu’s field theory as a framework to bring the internal logics of news and external conditions in relation to each other. 19 See Mazzarella (2004b). 20 Dominant papers in any region in India are either in the official language of the subnational state or in English, although on a national scale the field of news is multilingual. 21 Habermas (1987, 1989). 22 See Zelizer (2004). 23 The connections drawn between the press and ‘publics’ did not begin with Habermas. Nineteenth-century political science theories in the West linked the nascent print media with the emergence of social groups that were distinct from ‘irrational’ crowds or the family. Gabriel Tarde conceived the public as a ‘purely spiritual collectivity’ and recognized the printing press as a precondition for their emergence (Martín-Barbero 1993). 24 Laclau (2005: 168). 25 In 1881, ‘rendition’ had replaced the direct rule of the British imperial power with princely authority under stringent power-transfer rules (Chandrashekar 2004; Hettne 1977). 26 This is not to say that ideas of equality and liberty did not exist in regional discourses. As Kannada writer Devanooru Mahadeva (2014) argues, the twelfth-century Vachana tradition in the region raised issues of caste equality and liberty. But this rich corpus of oral literature was not resonant in the early decades of journalism’s growth in the region, partly since the small number of journalists used the lexicon of Western liberalism to win the attention of princely bureaucracy steeped in ideas of modernization and democratic representation mediated by colonial regimes. 27 Christian missionaries included B.H. Rice and his popular paper Arun￴odaya (1862 – Sunrise); nationalists and caste advocates included the most popular journalist of the time, M. Venkatakrishniah, with his Sampadabhyudaya (Prosperity), Nad￳egannadi (Mirror to the Ways), Sadhvi (The Virtuous), Nationalist, Vrittanta Cintaman￴i (Reflection on News), Mysore Herald and other papers (early decades of the twentieth century), and P.R. Ramiah with Tayi Nadu (1927  – Motherland). There were social reformers Bhashyam Thirumalacharya and T.C. Srinivasacharya with Karnataka Prakasika

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(1865 – Karnataka Bulletin), litterateurs – Pa.Vem. Acharya with Prabhuddha Karnat aka (Erudite Karnataka)  – and caste-community activists  – M.C. Lingesha Gowda with Okkaligara Patrike (1907  – Okkaligas’ Paper) advocating the cause of the Okkaliga community, an intermediary caste group. These interests were obviously interpenetrating and the categories were even misleading, since upper-caste interests often morphed into nationalist ideologies while regional nationalisms were expressions of the underlying political struggles of marginalized caste groups to procure equal social and ritual status with the Brahmins. The role of the newspapers in the non-Brahmin movement at the turn of the twentieth century revealed these complex strands of overlapping interests underpinning early journalistic practice in the region – a point I will return to while discussing caste practices among journalists in Chapter 5. 28 Here, I follow Ernesto Laclau’s (2005) theorization of ‘populism’ that posits contingency and multiple discursive possibilities, as opposed to assumptions of ‘prior publics’ and transhistorical models of dominance. This framework rescues media theory, to state it somewhat piquantly, from the pitfall of a normative dead-end entailed in the democratic ‘representation’ frame and the polemical dead-end underlying the ‘domination’ frame. 29 Following Hannah Arendt’s treatise on public–private distinctions in Ancient Greek thought, Thompson (2011) proposes that the mediation of current communication technologies could be considered in terms of constituting a field of vision that is stretched out in time and space, bearing definite political effects. 30 Implicit in this formulation is the Bourdieuan notion of ‘symbolic capital’ and the more recent theorization of ‘media meta-capital’ that proposes that media provide resources of constitutive significance for the social and political worlds, in ways mimicking the prescriptive authority of the state. See Couldry (2012). Thompson’s formulation of mediated visibility prompts us to recognize that this capital might itself be available for appropriation and contestation among a range of publics and not merely a privileged few. 31 Van der Veer (2001). 32 Chandavarkar (2007: 447). 33 Mouffe (2000). 34 Graham and Marvin (2001); Harvey (1990); Sassen (2001). 35 Nair (2005); Parameswaran (2004); Patel (2006); Roy (2005); Upadhya (2009). 36 In his influential formulation of ‘political society’, Partha Chatterjee (2004) argues that the distinction between subject and citizen in the colonial era has shaped ‘political society’ as a domain of ‘populations’ interpellated as objects of state welfare and electoral expedience in postcolonial India, as opposed to the moral claims of legitimate and sovereign citizens of civil society. 37 Baviskar (2003); Scott (1998). Also, see Escobar (2004); Ferguson (2010). 38 Baviskar (2003); Brosius (2010); Nair (2005); Upadhya (2009). 39 Deshpande (2003); Fernandes (2006); Scott (1998); Srivastava (2014). 40 Brosius (2010: 23). 41 Deleuze and Guattari (1983). 42 For a detailed discussion on the genealogy of ‘desire’ in Western philosophy, see Silverman (2000).

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43 Deleuze and Guattari (1983: 38). They note that ‘[i]‌t is not possible to attribute a special form of existence to desire, a mental or psychic reality that is presumably different from the material reality of social production’ (p. 30). 44 Bourdieu (1998: 78). 45 In the Indian context, as well as in the growing body of anthropological and sociological literature on consumption, there are significant exceptions. See Mazzarella (2004a) and Rajagopal (1999b). 46 Oakley (2004). 47 Liechty (2003: 253). 48 I will briefly sketch this later development in the conclusions. 49 In Chapter 2, we will see how the discourse of global city had concrete effects on urban development in Bangalore. Neoliberal global city agenda referred to the growing legitimacy of private-sector participation in core urban development activities and efforts to align basic urban services and entitlements with market rationality. A section of the English-language media played a key role in the discursive push to contrast the ‘corrupt’ political class (and the state) with the enabling market (Udupa and Chakravartty 2012), including global capital. These efforts, as scholars have pointed out, did not represent an agenda external to the private and corporate interests of India’s postcolonial capitalist classes (Corbridge and Harriss 2003), although within the media sector proper, a section of domestic media capitalists opposed the flow of foreign capital to safeguard their interests as well as to voice concerns about the dangers of exposing news as a national cultural force to the possible incendiary effects of foreign interests (Peterson 2010). This particular manifestation of neoliberalism in India is distinct from analysis of the retreat of the social welfare state in Western economies, as several scholars have emphasized in the postcolonial context (Cross 2010; Münster and Strümpell 2014). ‘Mediated desire’ points to the specific neoliberal urban transformation in India and its intersection with news creation, which avoids generalized invocations of ‘neoliberalism’ as an instance of universal transformation on a global scale. This follows James Ferguson’s (2010) proposal to draw an analytical distinction between different aspects of neoliberalism as a set of techniques rather than a unified project with a telos. One distinction is between neoliberal forms of state governance and neoliberalism as a cultural sensibility. The relation between the two is an open empirical question. 50 Jain (2007); Jeffrey (1997); Peterson (2010); Rajagopal (2001); Rao (2010); Stahlberg (2002). 51 Chapter 4 revisits this point on the blurring imaginaries of urban and rural in journalistic practice and how they shape news discourses around large developmental projects such as the Bangalore International Airport. As with the ambiguous physical boundaries between urban and rural areas in India that are constantly redefined through declassifications and boundary extensions (Kundu 2009), cultural imaginations are also imbued by sentiments that routinely refer to the rural hinterland and bring the imaginations of the rural to bear on urban news reporting. Mazumdar (2007) and Nandy (1998) discuss the affective sweep of the rural in the constructions of the urban in Indian cinema. 52 Mitchell (1991: 77). This point will be re-emphasized in Chapter 3.

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Notes to pages 20–31

53 Chatterjee (1997: 144). 54 This reflects a larger trend toward consolidation in other regional news markets in India. See Chandrasekhar and Ghosh (2003). Despite rapid growth of VK and its quick ascendance to the top position in circulation and readership, Vijaya Sankeswara, the publisher, sold his company Vijayanand Printers Limited (VPL) and all its publications to the Times group in 2006, following his retreat from active politics. Post-acquisition, the Times group retained VPL’s flagship Kannada newspaper VK, but closed down its English-language broadsheet and converted it into a city tabloid, Bangalore Mirror (BM). It closed down another Kannada broadsheet, Usha Kirana, published by VPL, to launch the Kannada translation of the TOI. 55 Bourdieu (1979). 56 Bourdieu (1986: 147). 57 Hannerz (1996: 13). This body of anthropological scholarship (Arno 2009; Bastian 1993; Bird 2010; Boyer 2005; Hannerz 1996; Paterson and Domingo 2008) extends earlier sociological literature on journalists and news organizations (Breed 1955; Cook 2005; Fishman 1980; Gans 1980; Goldenberg 1975; Tuchman 1978), but it also qualifies generalized accounts of news as artifacts of Western modernity, by offering a grounded analysis of the varied cultural contexts within which journalists function across local-translocal fields. 58 The anthropological approach has also inaugurated comparative and crosscultural studies. This has been a significant advance toward de-westernizing media theories. While there are studies in this direction within the sociological tradition also (Curran and Park 2000), anthropological work has been particularly attentive to the experiences of media expansion in the global South through its methodological practices of reflexive fieldwork. 59 Acknowledging the varied and dispersed sources of cultural connections in the age of global networks and following the influential metaphor of flows by Arjun Appadurai (1990), anthropological studies have drawn attention to translocal processes, such as flows of technology (Ginsburg et  al. 2002) and flows of people (Hannerz 1996), even while steadfastly studying the local. 60 Couldry (2008); Peterson (2010); Postill (2010); Rao (2010). As Patrick Murphy notes in his discussion of Ulf Hannerz’s work, media anthropologists provide ‘ongoing narrative connections with [their] subjects and moments of reflexivity that give a sense of [their] ethnographic habitus’ (2008: 287). 61 Gupta and Ferguson (1997: 5).

1. Regimes of desire: The rise of the Times of India 1 See Dalal (2001); Kohli-Khandekar (2006); Rao (2010); Sahay (2006); Sainath (2001); Sonwalkar (2002). 2 Samir Jain took over the family business in 1986 and introduced extensive changes in the news format, organizational structure and business model of the TOI group. Nicholas Coleridge (1993), a journalist and chronicler of newspaper tycoons across the world, traced Samir Jain’s organizational and

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editorial initiatives to his training in ‘Harvard Business School’ techniques during his brief internship at the New York Times. Samir Jain was known among his colleagues as a managing editor who was steadfast in his bottom-line focus as well as eloquent about his spiritual quests. He was known to make visits to Hindu spiritual destinations in India at regular intervals. 3 Sonwalkar (2002: 828–829). 4 Auletta (2012). 5 For this reason, the chapter will cite TOI journalists without using their real names. Except in a few cases when journalists were only elaborating management lines, journalists are referenced with their organizational ranking or other generic terms. 6 Robin Jeffrey describes this as ‘an air of complacency [in Karnataka’s news market]:  slow, steady circulation growth, satisfactory returns to existing newspapers but few innovations and no substantial new newspapers’ until the late 1970s (1997: 566). 7 Various Kannada-speaking regions spread across princely Mysore, Madras Presidency and areas under Hyderabad Nizam were brought under a single administrative unit in 1956. The unified state was initially called Mysur u, but renamed Karnataka in 1968. 8 Khadi is the hand-spun cotton fabric popularized during the Indian nationalist movement as a metasign of virtues of self-reliance and simplicity. Jhola is a loose shoulder bag, often made from thick cotton fabric. Lankesh Patrike, a news-weekly started in 1978, was a striking illustration of the ethos that defined this phase of socialist-leaning journalism in Karnataka. 9 In 2004, it overtook Deccan Herald in terms of readership volume. According to the Indian Readership Survey (2008, Round 2), the estimated number of readers for the TOI in Bangalore was 395,000, Deccan Herald 240,000 and The Hindu 50,000. 10 Deccan Chronicle was owned by Deccan Chronicle Holdings, one of the top 20 publishing houses in India based in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. DNA was published by Diligent Media Corporation, a 50:50 joint venture between the Essel Group, the company behind Zee group, one of the largest broadcast networks, and the Bhaskar Group, the publisher of India’s second-most-read Hindi daily, Dainik Bhaskar. DNA entered the Bangalore news market by aggressively branding itself as a ‘hyperlocal’ paper, promising more extensive and ‘authentic’ coverage of local news. 11 Information technology was popularly referred to as ‘IT’ even in the everyday use of Kannada. 12 The actual contribution of readership surveys to the assumptions around readership and reading preferences is debatable. According to senior executives in the Bangalore office, the TOI had employed major marketing agencies to conduct nationwide readership surveys before introducing the new format. However, many of them admitted that these surveys provided only brief pointers and broad directions. The department heads exercised a lot of discretion in terms of defining the new reader, often based on their own experiences of living in the city and the feedback received by newspaper vendors and sales agents. A senior executive squarely brushed aside the importance of readership surveys, emphasizing that the changes were an ‘internal decision’.

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Notes to pages 35–42

13 Gitlin (1983: 25). 14 Schudson (2003: 99). 15 The cover price of the TOI was reduced to one rupee following the re-launch, forcing other papers to slash their prices. The TOI had similarly started a price war in Delhi to challenge the market dominance of the Hindustan Times. Along with price cuts, the new management under Samir Jain also introduced different pricing for different days and cross-brand advertising packages. These changes were introduced in the early 1990s in Delhi (Kohli-Khandekar 2006). 16 Mazzarella (2004a: 70). 17 As several journalists admitted during the interviews, print journalists felt insecure about their survival in the face of the growing popularity of television, despite the fact that English-language news channels had a minuscule share of 0.4 percent of viewership in 2010 (Shukla 2010). The television sector’s growing share of advertisement revenue added to the fear. 18 Jeffrey (2000) points out that local news in the earlier newspapers was ignored because of several structural constraints. Often local news would cost more than national or international news as the latter would be gathered through news agencies. He notes another intriguing aspect of resistance to local news. He points to the influence of personal dispositions and class background of news proprietors upon news content. Editors’ and proprietors’ drive for intellectualism and nationalism led to a ‘disdain’ for local news in the regional-language media (2000: 88). However, there were variations within the regional-language media, since some proprietors gave more importance to local news, especially the Eenadu group in Andhra Pradesh. In the 1970s, a major thrust for local news came from market research surveys that predicted large gains in circulation through the strategies of provisioning more local news. 19 Kohli-Khandekar (2006: 38). 20 This was also a time when the advertisement world was rapidly changing in India. See Mazzarella (2004a); Rajagopal (1999a). 21 Indian Readership Surveys defined Tier 2 towns as those with a population between one and four million. Cities with more than four million people were considered as Tier 1 towns (IRS 2008). 22 Close to 90 percent of the TOI revenue came from advertisements – a point elaborated further in Chapter 3. 23 Pinches (1999: xii). 24 Brosius (2010). 25 Basavanagudi is an old neighborhood in Bangalore known to be more conservative in its cultural values. Kadle‫ﷳ‬kai parise is an annual fair of ground nuts, held in front of the popular Bull Temple in Basavanagudi. On this day, hundreds of farmers from the neighboring villages gather to sell their produce in makeshift shops on the main street in front of the Bull Temple. There are interesting oral narratives about the origin of the fair. The farmers from the villages surrounding Basavanagudi pledged to offer their first produce of groundnuts to Lord Basava (the bull god) to plead with the god to prevent aggressive bulls from invading their fields. The fair typically lasts for three to five days, and has been growing in size in recent years with the generous patronage of local politicians.

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26 See Nair (2005) for a detailed discussion of the demarcations between Cantonment Bangalore and old Bangalore. See also Introduction, note 9. 27 In earlier years, pay cuts based on advertisement revenue collections were not a common practice at news organizations. Salaries were regulated by the wage boards, and many newspapers continued to follow these guidelines (Jeffrey 2000). However, not only were the salaries low but the job contract could itself be terminated any time owing to personal grudges and pressure from politicians and other ‘people of influence’ to ‘take action against’ journalists who wrote articles critical of them. Inside TOI, pay cuts were a more direct reflection of the volume of advertisement revenue the paper could amass in the previous financial year. 28 The press in English and Kannada has had a long tradition of highlighting infrastructure problems in various localities. ‘Badavan￴e Bavan￴e’ (problems in localities) was a popular section among many Kannada papers, and showcased problems related to drains, roads, garbage collection, sanitary conditions, public transport, street lights, drinking water and so on in various city neighborhoods. But the TOI gave the infrastructure issues greatest prominence in their city pages and, very importantly, linked these discussions to the larger world-class city discourse. 29 The TOI Bangalore edition, September 1, 2006. 30 Brosius (2010: 126–127). 31 Mbembe (2004: 374). 32 I cite this quotation in a context different from the original usage. Michael Schudson uses this phrase to draw attention to the materiality of news production (1996: 143). 33 Brosius (2010: 86). 34 In 2012, two NGOs, National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms, revealed that the top donors for the three largest political parties (Indian National Congress, BJP and Janata Dal United) in the region included private property developers who had massive residential and office complex projects under way in Bangalore. 35 Benjamin (2000); Goldman (2011); Nair (2005). 36 Land Acquisition (Karnataka Amendment) Act, 1988 and the Karnataka Industries Areas Development Act, 1966. 37 Ghosh (2005) points to the legal and bureaucratic processes involved in regularizing revenue sites that offer low-cost and dense housing for a large section of the city’s population. Since 2005, she notes, regularization of revenue sites has needed clearance from 12 authorities. Earlier, the process had to be cleared by four agencies. 38 Goldman (2011: 555). 39 The exact share of advertisement revenue generated by the real estate sector was not revealed by the advertising executives. But senior management executives admitted that real estate is one of the top advertisers for the paper along with the IT industry. In the later years of the re-launch, the Times group introduced the practice of publishing advertisements for real estate firms in exchange for property instead of cash. See Bansal and Shirsat (2009). 40 Brosius (2010). 41 Nair (2005: 123).

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Notes to pages 47–56

42 Davis (1990: 223). 43 Parameswaran suggests that the proliferation of glossy images of celebrities and sites of consumption should be seen as part of a larger shift of the Indian print culture toward ‘privileging the semiotic power of images and illustrations’ in the context of ‘global television’s mission to constitute the regime of the visual as the quintessential discursive vehicle for consumer modernity’ (2004: 382). 44 Vijay Mallya is a media-savvy businessman and socialite, known for his flamboyant lifestyle. He owns a range of businesses – aviation and liquor being the most important of them. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) as an independent candidate in 2010. 45 Brosius (2010: 175). Brosius cites Akshardham in Delhi as a striking example of a spiritual-leisure complex. 46 In her illuminating thesis on ‘post-feminism’, Angela McRobbie argues that contemporary feminism is caught up with neoliberal discourses on empowerment and choice, displacing the earlier form of feminism as a political movement (2009: 158). 47 Butler (2009: 950). 48 Williams and Carpini (2011). 49 Dalal (2001); Parameswaran (2004); Thussu (2007). 50 The issue also inspired a Bollywood film by the same name. There is a huge critical literature on the Western news media, declining standards of journalism and growing trends of infotainment. As Curran and Sparks reveal, less than 20  percent of the editorial content of the popular national press in the United Kingdom is devoted to news and comment about political, social and economic affairs (1991: 215). However, they argue that the political outcomes of enhanced entertainment content in the news media are ambiguous, because such journalistic forms could also have the potential to subvert official authority by presenting entertaining narratives about persons in power. Similarly, in his extensive survey of a large sample of news stories from television networks, news magazines and national newspapers in the United States, Patterson (2000) has shown that ‘soft news’ – defined as stories with no evident connection to policy issues – rose from 35 percent of all stories in 1980 to 50 percent in 1998. 51 Abu-Lughod (2005: 234). 52 Hallin and Mancini (2007). 53 While the TOI pursued its anti-political-class rhetoric as part of its reorganizational strategy, there was also a thriving Kannada tabloid culture in the city that regularly published stories that showed politicians in a bad light. The character of these tabloids, however, was closer to scandal-driven yellow journalism. Owner-editors of these papers changed their loyalties to politicians and businessmen at regular intervals, allegedly for money, fame and protection from rival underworld dons. Hai Bengaluru, Agni, Police Varte and Crime News stand out prominently. 54 Sonwalkar (2002). 55 Chakravartty (2004). 56 See, for instance, Duval (2005), for the transformation of economic journalism in France.

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57 Interviews with reporters across newspapers in Bangalore revealed that journalists were given gifts of small consumer goods such as glassware, watches, kitchen appliances, or presented with gift vouchers to a sum ranging from 500 to 1,000 rupees. Senior correspondents were often taken on holidays, and provided with cars to attend press conferences hosted by private companies. More expensive gifts were handed out by the political class, especially for the Kannada journalists. This point will be elaborated in Chapter 5. 58 Udupa and Chakravartty (2012). 59 The Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF) was introduced as a key institution to forge and facilitate public–private partnership in urban governance in 1999. Its members included corporate heads (especially from the IT sector) and government officials. The seven partnering municipal agencies of BATF covered all the important municipal services including water supply, public transport and power distribution. While the BATF members were nominated by a government order, the urban service providers were made to share the partnership forum to discuss and draw out recommendations for improving the city, under the close supervision of the then Chief Minister S.M. Krishna. 60 See also Kumar (2010); Loynd (2008); Uniyal (2003). 61 Drawing on Lukose (2010), Udupa and Chakravartty (2012) point out that the political and cultural implications of ‘liberalization’s children’ are complex, especially when the gendered dimension of these transformations is considered. 62 Waisbord (2000); see also Bresnahan (2003). Waisbord reveals the interruptions and tensions in the consolidation of adversarial, public-minded journalism in Latin America because of quid pro quo practices between the state and media corporations, and lack of media pluralism. News media here went soft on the corporations, and investigative reporting disproportionately focused on the responsibility of public officials vis-à-vis business actors, aside from turning watchdog journalism into short-term probes on individuals and episodes, which were cheaper to produce. 63 Barbara Harriss-White (2003) argues that economic liberalization in provincial India has created new opportunities for rent-seeking and corruption, rather than manifesting the neoliberal dream of replacing state regulation with ‘good government’.

2. Democracy by default 1 In 2012, the gang rape and subsequent death of a young postgraduate student in New Delhi sparked nationwide protests and intense media coverage. The protests were evidence of the growing influence of private media in mobilizing middle-class groups in mediatized events on a national scale. 2 Dahlgren and Sparks (1991); Keane (1991); Schudson (1996). 3 Rao (2010). 4 Parthasarathi (2011). 5 Kunda (2006); Upadhya (2008b). 6 Carol Upadhya (2008b) sheds light on these contradictions within the high-tech outsourcing sector in India. The professed ‘flat structures’ of the

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TOI newsrooms stand in stark contrast to the caste-inflected newsrooms of the regional-language media – a point I will discuss in Chapter 5. Recognizing this difference, Ursula Rao argues that the newsrooms of the Hindi media are driven by the ethos of ‘the company as family’ in which ‘authority and affection govern hierarchical relations’ (2010:  31). Without doubt, these differences between English- and regional-language media newsrooms are never clearly drawn out. There are gaps between theory and practice even within the English-language media. However, the new-age management ideologies of ‘empowered individual workers’ and flat structures most clearly penetrated new-age English-language newspapers that were modeling themselves on the TOI as well as what the managements imagined as the ‘modern’ newsrooms of prominent English-language papers in the West such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. 7 Féral (1982). 8 Hughes (2006); Thussu (2007). 9 Cook (2005). 10 Nair (2005: 114). 11 Journalists at the TOI added that the paper had to discontinue some of these initiatives because bureaucrats were more reluctant to participate in such discussions in the later years. 12 Duggan (2003). 13 Many journalists across news organizations during the interviews admitted that the post-1990s commercial press did not want any ‘trouble’ with the ruling government, irrespective of the political party in power. This is partly explained by the wide-ranging business interests of media houses that prevented these companies from taking a strong adversarial position for a long time. 14 Scott (1998: 7). 15 Roy (2005: 150). 16 Chief Minister is the chief elected representative for subnational states. 17 Mazzarella (2004a); Rajagopal (1999b). 18 Rajagopal (1999b: 137). 19 Tom Peters, quoted in Boyer (2001: 26). 20 Klein (1999: 30). 21 Molotch and Lester (1974). 22 Cohen and Young (1973). 23 Hartley (1996). 24 Meyer (2011: 23). 25 Eisenlohr (2011: 9). 26 This is not to say that religious media are uniform in their denial of mediation. In the context of an idolatrous religious culture in large parts of India, where deities are understood to be manifest while divinity is invisible, the culture of mediation is at odds with the Christian (Protestant) denunciation of mediation as blasphemous, and of ‘immediacy’ as both rational and ethical. I thank the anonymous reader of this manuscript Arvind Rajagopal for pointing to this difference. However, the evolving fields of religious mass media suggest that the devotional union with the divine as an experience of immediacy remains an important aspect of popular appeal, evident in the growing number of religious channels in India.

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27 Meyer (2011:  27). This is not to posit any difference of value between embodied experience and semiotic forms as efficacious means to convey meaning and shape subjectivities, but rather to emphasize the new ways in which elite English media peddled urban ideologies of ‘global city’ in a milieu wrought by media visibilities and multiple media publics. 28 Shankar (2014). 29 Mazzarella (2006). 30 Based on the recommendations of the Administrative Reforms Commission in 1966, Karnataka State Legislature enacted the Karnataka Lokayukta Act in 1984 to set up the institution of Lokayukta with a mandate to investigate charges of corruption against public authorities and redress the grievances of common citizens when they face governmental corruption. 31 Benjamin (2001 [1969]: 63). 32 The contentious issue was the Lokayukta’s report on illegal mining in the state of Karnataka, which had named several key politicians for their alleged involvement in the mining racket. The then BJP government had three powerful ministers from the mining lobby, famously called the Reddy brothers, who tried to distract every effort to regulate illegal mining. In July 2010, the state government banned iron ore export from the state and decided to screen all the iron-ore-loaded trucks leaving the state to check illegal transit to other states for export purposes. 33 Environment Support Group, a Bangalore-based voluntary organization, launched a public protest against road widening and also highlighted such nuanced details of the scheme to the wider public. 34 The social background of journalists is a key factor influencing such reports. This point will be elaborated in detail in Chapter 5. 35 The Right to Information Act 2005 constituted a watershed in terms of accessing state information. Despite restrictions upon certain forms of state data, information around many governmental decisions and processes were made available for public access through the new Act. The Act allowed the citizens to seek specific information related to national and regional governments. 36 Pai gave this comment at a TOI-organized panel on Bangalore’s growth report on September 5, 2006. Pai was the head of the Human Resources division at Infosys, a major IT outsourcing company, and a frequently quoted corporate celebrity in the TOI. 37 Garfinkel (1984 [1967]). 38 Vijayanagar is seen as a lower-middle-class locality in Bangalore. Although the TOI circulates widely across the city, it does not specifically target these localities as they lack the desired readership profile. 39 Udupa and Chakravartty (2012). 40 Udupa and Chakravartty (2012). 41 Roy (2005: 151). 42 Prahlad (2009). 43 Kaviraj and Khilnani (2001: 5).

3. The difference machine: Market and field logics of news 1 Schudson (2003: 12).

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Guha (1982: 6). 2 3 Bourdieu (1979). 4 Jeffrey (2000); Peterson (1996); Rajagopal (2001); Rao (2010); Stahlberg (2002). 5 Rajagopal (2001: 209). 6 Spivak (1999: 167). 7 Rajagopal (2001: 25). 8 As mentioned in the Introduction, Nair (2011) discusses in detail the modernization projects of princely Mysore and how they were especially prominent in the realms of manufacturing industry and legal reforms. 9 In her illuminating analysis of the colonial public sphere in the (current) Maharashtra region, Naregal (2001) notes similar effects of bilingualism. Balshastri Jambekar’s newspaper, Bombay Darpan, for example, claimed an equal status between English and Marathi through its relentless bilingual publications. 10 Rajagopal (2001: 191). 11 The effects of the shifting binary between English and Kannada are central to the growth of ‘bhasha’, as the next chapter will elaborate. 12 Mitchell (1991: 85). 13 Stahlberg (2002: 194–195). 14 Bourdieu (2005: 37). 15 Jain (2007: 21). 16 Bachi Karkaria addressed college students at a career counselling session organized by TOI. TOI report on August 27, 2006, p. 4. 17 The growth was led by the Kannada dailies with a readership share of 22 percent, followed by English dailies with an 11 percent readership share. 18 Jeffrey (2007). 19 See Gitlin (1983) for a detailed discussion of newsroom dynamics. For a recent discussion on data analytics and marketing in a new media environment, see Turow (2006). 20 Parameswaran (2004: 392). 21 IRS 2008 R2 showed that out of 1,911,000 readers who subscribed to any English-language daily and any Kannada daily in Bangalore, only 289,000 readers subscribed to both English-language and Kannada dailies. The remaining 85 percent of the readers subscribed either to English-language or Kannada dailies. 22 Single subscription implied subscribing to a single news daily each day, although the paper purchased could vary on different days of the week. 23 Adopting the classification of the Market Research Society of India, the IRS grouped socio-economic segments as A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, D, E1 and E2 based on the education and occupation of the chief wage earner of the household. The meaning of the terms changed periodically. The definitions were available at the MRUC website:  www.mruc.net/images/stories/Glossary_ KeyIRSDefinitions.pdf. 24 Boyer (2001: 10). 25 Gitlin (1983: 31). 26 As mentioned in the Introduction, the Times group acquired Vijayanand Publishers Limited from a local businessman who had started Vijaya Karnataka,Vijay Times and Usha Kirana. See Introduction, note 54.

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27 The specific content of these alternative discourses will be dealt with in detail in the next two chapters. This chapter largely highlights the processes behind articulating the differences between English-speaking and Kannada readers. 28 The narrative of ushering the Kannada readers into global modernity had striking similarity with elite Indian nationalists’ claim to modernity. As Dipesh Chakrabarty summarizes Ranajit Guha’s pointed attack on elite historiography: ‘Elitist narratives of Indian nationalism … portrayed nationalist leaders as ushering India and its people out of some kind of precapitalist stage into a world-historical phase of “bourgeois modernity”, properly fitted out with the artefacts of democracy, citizenly rights, market economy, and the rule of law’ (2000b: 22). 29 Senior executives at the Times group pointed out that the failure of TOIK was also due to the lack of vision and the editorial team’s poor execution of management guidelines on translation. 30 Gitlin (1983: 14). 31 Cottle (2000: 36). 32 Boyer (2010: 252). 33 Bangalore International Airport was opened in 2008. It was built on a public–private partnership model by a consortium of private companies, and the state and central (federal) government agencies. Newspapers published long debates and discussions on whether the earlier airport at HAL should be shut down or whether both the airports should be allowed to function. Chapter 5 takes a closer view of this project. 34 The high form of Kannada used in the early newspapers in princely Mysore was marked by a longer history of cultural and social contestation with Sanskrit (Pollock 1998; Subbanna 2009), but was fueled again in the non-Brahmin movement between 1910 and 1930. The domination of Brahmins in the news field and broader social field was challenged by the newly assertive Okkaliga and Lingayat journalists by adopting the circuitous and Sankritized form of Kannada as a means to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the royal authority and discursive parity with the Brahmin scribes. 35 Enhanced local news was facilitated by new printing technologies and multi-edition strategies of print capitalists (Jeffrey 2000; Ninan 2007). This was a clear shift from the early years of the post-independence Kannada press, which, still fresh with the expansive vision of nationalist struggle and bilingual forms of journalism in princely Mysore and enthusiastic about Nehruvian India’s new-found status in the international political scene, filled the front pages with international and national news rather than local news. See also note 18, Chapter 1. 36 ‘English journalists’ is a common term of address to refer to journalists working for the English-language newspapers. Commonly invoked by journalists working for the Kannada newspapers, it is a strongly political term aimed to evoke meanings of inauthenticity and crass commercialization of the journalistic profession. Subsequent chapters will discuss this in detail. 37 Fishman (1980). 38 Zelizer (1997: 401–402).

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39 Both the emphasis on formal politics and notions of rooted culture often translated into language chauvinism and, at times, right-wing Hindutva politics. Chapters 4 and 5 will discuss this point in detail. 40 Bowring Institute is an elite social club. Windsor Manor is a five-star hotel in Bangalore. 41 There were clear limits to Kannada journalists’ imagining of their readers as the ‘lower class’. Journalists’ growing affluence compared to earlier generations of impoverished scribes resulted in fewer stories on public transport, public food distribution system and public schooling. Jayarama Adiga recalled: ‘Twenty years ago, news stories on BTS [public transport agency] and kerosene were the ones sparking greatest amount of interest and debate. If the bus stopped a few metres away from the bus station, papers would make it into a big story. Departmental inquiries [within the state bureaucracy] would be set up based on these news reports. Today even when the bus fails to turn up for hours together, nobody writes about them. Earlier, journalists would be personally affected when the buses arrived late. Today, no journalist travels in buses.’ An even greater limit was the language factor, which equated the poor with the Kannada-speaking public and often failed to reflect the concerns of marginalized informal laborers migrating from other language states. The next two chapters will revisit this point. 42 Gitlin (1983: 22). 43 Nair (2005: 278). 44 A similar sentiment was shared among English-language reporters with origins in Karnataka. Rather than viewing it as an urban/rural dichotomy, they saw the split within the city and accused the non-Kannada, North-Indian migrants in Bangalore of being vain and overspending. The next chapter will elaborate on this point. 45 Gopalakrishna Adiga and Y.N. Krishnamurthy were pioneering Navya poets and scholars in Kannada literature, while Champa was a scathing critic of the Navya movement. The Navya movement (new style or modernist movement) referred to a new generation of literary works in Kannada in the late 1960s and 1970s that was inspired by post-World War II English writers such as T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence and Ezra Pound, as well as Sartre in translation. Broadly termed as a movement in close conversation with literary modernism in the European literary tradition, Navya literature captured the angst of newly independent India by drawing inspiration from the explorations of individual spirit and humanism in post-war English writers. Evocative use of language and a keen eye for everyday social realities of independent India set Navya literature distinct from other traditions. Gopalakrishna Adiga is considered as the pioneer of the Navya movement in Kannada. 46 Name has been changed. 47 Gokak caluvali (agitation) was a Kannada nationalist movement in the 1980s that brought litterateurs, popular cinema actors and workers in a state-wide agitation to claim dominant status for Kannada and its speakers. Nair points out that Gokak agitation adopted a ‘more militant and exclusive emphasis’ by identifying ‘its enemies among the subaltern classes’ (migrant Tamil workers and Muslims) (2005: 111).

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48 May 18, 2008. Prof. Nanjundaswamy is the leader of Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha (Karnataka State Farmers Association), which has a long record of fighting against the ‘sovereignty of the market’ and excessive absorption of rural resources by large cities (Nair 2005: 268). 49 http://blog.blogadda.com/2011/11/24/krishna-prasad-churumuri-b log-interview-india (accessed February 21, 2012). 50 Gidwani (2009: 68). 51 Al-Batal (2002); Waisbord (2000). 52 Gidwani critiques a seam of subaltern studies inaugurated by Ranajit Guha as a theory of ‘negative consciousness’ in which subaltern consciousness operated through an identity that was ‘expressed solely through an opposition, namely its difference from and antagonism to its dominators’ (2009: 67).

4. Kannada Jagate: The sounds and silences of the bhasha media 1 Karnataka Raksan￴a V e‫ﷳ‬dike is a Kannada activist group started by Narayana Gowda in 1998 in Bangalore, shortly after a group of Kannada activists led an agitation against the government’s decision to recruit 23 candidates from other states for the Accountant General’s office in Bangalore. The organization grew popular through its militant forms of pro-Kannada activism and frequent public rallies around a range of issues including border and water disputes with neighboring states, job reservation for local Kannadigas in the private sector and classical language status for Kannada. It claims to have five million registered members, with 20,000 branches in 29 districts of the state. The second section in this chapter will discuss the activities of the organization and its influence in the news field. 2 Small, double-sided, hand-held drum. 3 See Chapter 3, note 36, for discussion of the term ‘English journalist’. 4 See Kaviraj (1992); Naregal (2001); Orsini (2002); Peterson (2010); Pollock (1998); Ramaswamy (1998). 5 Chakrabarty (2000a); Jain (2007); Pandian (1996). 6 Kaviraj (1992). 7 Gidwani (2009: 65). 8 Jain (2007: 14). 9 Howard (2011). 10 Pollock (1998). 11 Kaviraj (1992: 38). 12 Orsini (2009: 130–133). 13 Ramaswamy (2001: 6). 14 Mitchell (2009). 15 This was in the context of greater focus on ‘subprime’ and mofussil markets in the advertising and consumer commodity sectors. 16 In the widely publicized Jaipur Literary Festival, an annual literary event in the tourist-friendly state of Rajasthan, the organizers were keen to establish a forum for writers in Indian languages to discuss their work and explore avenues of translating their key literary contributions. William Dalrymple, British writer and the co-director of the event, emphasized during the press

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interviews that a strong bhasha presence was a unique attribute of the literary fest. While critics pointed to this inclusion as ways of averting accusations of elite bias, the growing market for regional-language literary works was evident in that diverse literary genres in 12 Indian languages were promoted through translations and panel discussions at the event. Namita Gokhale, co-organizer of the event, reiterated during the interviews to journalists that French, Spanish and Italian publishers showed a keen interest in the translated works of several works of literature in Indian languages. While ‘bhasha’ represented literary work in all the Indian languages in these invocations of the term, I use it to emphasize the specificity of each language culture while at the same time recognizing the resurgence and enthusiasm around regional languages that ‘bhasha’ signifies. This is a more recent phenomenon that the term ‘vernacular’ fails to suggest. 17 Talwalker (2009: 86). 18 Formal politics here refers to actors and practices of electoral and party politics. 19 Chatterjee (2004). 20 Pandian (1996: 3323). 21 This builds on Chattopadhyay and Sarkar’s invitation to examine the effects of ‘relaxing the Gramscian assumption that the subaltern is defined by insufficient access to modes of representation’, and how this can redefine our theoretical practice and empirical investigation (2005: 359). 22 ‘Popular culture’ has had a confusing intellectual history in the West. In its Janus-faced existence, ‘popular’ was celebrated as cultural resistance by the Birmingham School and earlier Romantics who legitimized popular creativity and cultural production to wider humanity to resist the authority of official culture (Martín-Barbero 1993). In the cultural studies tradition, Dick Hebdige, for example, studied the dress subculture among the youth, which was coded as resistance to the dominant culture, while at the same time, popular culture also implied denigration of democratic will and susceptibility to manipulation (Chattopadhyay and Sarkar 2005). In postcolonial histories, subaltern consciousness and activism are often theorized by drawing on the concept of popular culture. In these accounts, the attempt of the popular has been to challenge the distinction between high and low culture, and thereby foreground colonial dominance and collusion between the indigenous elite and colonial modernity. Pinney’s (2004) study of the print culture in colonial India assumes this position, while Rajadhyaksha (1986) registers the popular as a site of co-option by the marketplace and Pandian (1992) considers the popular as a site of ideological manipulation of the subaltern classes. 23 From a personal conversation with the author. Ananthamurthy is a leading literary figure and cultural commentator in Karnataka. He is also one of the most cited intellectuals on the national media. He is the recipient of Jnanapeeth award, the highest literary award in the country, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker International award in 2013. 24 Nair (2005). 25 Sheldon Pollock discusses the division of labor between languages in the first millennium (C E ) in India and southern Asia, to reveal the ascendance of

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Sanskrit as a transregional literary language and the preferred language of political authority. He defines this division of labor with the term ‘hyperglossia’ in which Sanskrit was employed primarily to make ‘expressive statements’ (to draw the genealogy of the king and praise him) and other regional languages to make ‘constative statements’ (to provide quantitative details of the transactions, etc.) in the inscriptions (1998: 12). 26 Nair (1996: 2810). 27 Nair (1996: 2810). 28 Laclau (2005: 70). 29 Laclau persuasively argues that there are specific ‘social logics’ that transform the demands into ‘some kind of totalization’ and constitute them as a claim within the system (2005: x). These processes of articulation have a rationality of their own. Saussurian linguistics and Freudian psychoanalysis guide Laclau to pin down this unique kind of rationality in terms of the logic of difference, logic of equivalence and libidinal bonding. Populism emerges when historically inscribed contingent forms of articulation transform heterogeneous demands existing in any social reality into popular demands of a (partially) totalizing nature. This articulation is effected through the logics of equivalence and difference. Logic of difference (signifying elements exist relationally through its differences from others) and logic of equivalence (various demands articulate themselves as analogous and similar) imply that social groups configure around differentially articulated demands and they emerge as a popular front (‘people’) once they are brought into equivalential relation through an act of representation. 30 Laclau (2005: 196). 31 This may hold true for the larger Kannada movement in the post-liberalization phase, but I limit my analysis to the news field and the ways through which Kannada enters the imagination of journalists and impacts their work. The role of language domains in articulating political demands and ideologies is neither exclusive to Kannada, nor to the current phase of urban transformation. See Orsini (2002); Ramaswamy (1998); and Mitchell (2009). 32 Here, literary text denotes textual productions that are distinct from oral literature and works of liturgy (Pollock 1998). 33 Shivarudrappa (2000). 34 Pollock (1998: 8). 35 Pollock (1998: 20). 36 Often, there is a bias in favor of fiction, poetry and lalita sahitya (light and partially formal prose). 37 Murigeppa (2000). 38 ‘Between the Kaveri and Godavari rivers is that region in Kannada (nadada kannad￳adol) [the country also called Karnataka], a well-known people region [janapada], an illustrious outstanding realm [visaya] within the circle of the earth’ (KRM 1.36, cited in Pollock 1998: 28). 39 Kaviraj (1992: 40). 40 Pollock (1998: 15). 41 This is in striking contrast to other language cultures, for example, Bengali. Kaviraj points out that Bengali linguistic identity was absent even as late as the Bhakti movement in the twelfth century CE . As he writes:  ‘There

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was already perhaps an identity of the language, but no linguistic identity. Linguistic identity is not formed by the simple objective fact of some people having a common language; it lies in a more deliberate choice to see this fact as the essential criterion of identity’ (1992: 39). 42 Narayana (2009). 43 Nair (2005). 44 VK editorial on November 3, 2008, p. 8, which welcomed the central government’s decision to confer classical language status on Kannada. 45 http://churumuri.wordpress.com/2009/08/01/and-five-kannadigas-are-­ kannada-activists/ (accessed on October 17, 2014). 46 The river Kaveri originates in the upper riparian state of Karnataka and flows down the lower riparian state of Tamil Nadu, before joining the ocean. Sharing of Kaveri water between the states has been a major issue of contention, sparking several conflicts in the region. 47 For a detailed technical discussion of the problems related to Kaveri river water sharing between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and the specific issues of contestation between the two states, see www.brad.ac.uk/acad/bcid/research/ papers/Paper3.pdf. 48 KP, December 5, 2008, p. 2. 49 Deleuze and Guattari (1983). 50 However, in the later years of its re-launch, the TOI was more careful to include Indian classical musicians and dancers, if not folk forms or semi-classical Kannada music, in its sponsored cultural events. Classical art forms catered to the predominantly upper-caste, upper-middle-class readers. Niche business publications such as Mint also featured these stories, eyeing the same readership. Shortly after the re-launch, the TOI ran a special feature series called ‘namma Bengaluru’ (Our Bengaluru) to capture the regional histories and cultures, along with other strategies to gain a foothold in the new market. 51 Karaga is an annual festival to celebrate the power of goddess Kali, attracting about 200,000 people on the final day of celebrations in Bangalore and anchored by the Vanhikula Kshatriyas, traditionally gardeners by occupation. See Srinivas (2001), for a detailed discussion on the significance of this festival in shaping the urban landscape of Bangalore. Kadle‫ﷳ‬kai parise is the festival of groundnuts, described in Chapter 1. Annamma is a fierce goddess, believed to be the reincarnation of goddess Parvati, the wife of Shiva. Devotees believe that Annamma extends protection to them and their lands against the invasion of evil forces. The connections between Annamma and territorial anxieties partly explain the popularity of Annamma festivals. These celebrations are usually organized on the common streets and alleys of Bangalore’s older neighborhoods as well as semi-rural areas newly annexed to the city region. 52 Report in Prajavani on December 5, 2008, p. 2. 53 This was not the first time that the state government had allowed organizers of private entertainment events to use Vidhana Soudha as a venue to hold press conferences. A  larger controversy was triggered when the Chief Minister of Karnataka presided over the inaugural news conference of Miss World contest held in 1996 in Bangalore. See Parameswaran (2004). 54 For a detailed discussion on the Bangalore–Mysore Corridor Project and its significance for the new urban development agendas for Bangalore, see Goldman (2011).

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55 For a detailed analysis of the influential presence of caste-religious leaders in Karnataka, see Ikegame (2012). 56 The Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), as the new consortium came to be named, had five shareholders: Siemens, Zurich Airport, Larsen and Toubro, the Karnataka government and the central government. 57 In April 2005, Karnataka State Industrial Investment Development Corporation (KSIIDC) leased out the acquired land to airport promoters for 30 years with a possibility of extension by another 30 years. 58 Airfinance Journal (2006). While Bangalore was the first to launch an airport project on the PPP model, many other Indian cities such as Hyderabad followed suit. The trend was visible in other developing countries, especially in Latin America where similar partnership models were forged to attract foreign capital. 59 Since the same news story could mention more than one theme, the total frequency of stories covering all the identified themes exceeded the number of stories analyzed in the sample. 60 For all the papers except the TOI, stories were manually identified from the hard copy of the newspaper’s Bangalore edition going by the keywords ‘Bangalore International Airport’ or ‘Devanahalli airport’. For the TOI, online archives were accessed by using the keywords ‘Bangalore International Airport’. For this keyword search, a total of 820 stories appearing on the main sheet, Bangalore Times and Times Property (sponsored) sections were displayed. The number was cut down to 96 by drawing out separate lists for every three months and examining the first four pages (each page displaying eight stories). Only those appearing on the main pages of the TOI or Bangalore Times were sampled, although stories appearing in the Times Property (sponsored) section were examined for qualitative analysis. Only for the month of May, when the airport was inaugurated, was a separate search list drawn out. A total of 331 stories were coded across all the sampled newspapers, including 84 stories from TH, 89 from NIE, 21 from VK and 41 from KP. 61 Human error in manual search is acknowledged here. However, the relative difference in the volume of coverage is clearly evident. 62 ‘Bangalore is a brand that packs plenty of value’. Interview with Harish Bijoor in Times Property, February 16, 2008. 63 Gibson (2004: 284). 64 This demand was met in 2013 when the airport was formally renamed Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru. 65 Except on one occasion in 2008, when there was a front-page story on farmers’ grievances against land acquisition. Report on April 14, 2008. 66 The state government had issued a notification to acquire land for building the hardware park in 2006, but the local farmers had strongly opposed the project. According to the Raita Horata Samiti activists, the initial compensation for one acre of land was as low as 500,000 rupees, but their protests led to an upward revision of the compensation package. The final compensation was close to 5.7 million rupees for an acre. The Samiti activists continued to demand more compensation (up to 15 million rupees) and a share of 9,600 square feet of developed land for every acre lost. 67 Boyer (2010:  242). Boyer describes praxeological agency as journalists’ shared sense of active agency and their productive presence in news creation,

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uninterrupted by exigencies such as financial relations, institutional procedures and professional expectations. 68 For KRV’s archives on various agitations and demands since its inception, see www.karnatakarakshanavedike.org/modes/pages/10/horaatagalu.html. Nair points out that in the context of declining trade union activities in the state, informal networks such as neighborhood associations and Kannada activist groups became ‘more important sites of political activity’ (2005: 257). 69 The origins of Dalita Sangharsa Samiti, however, had close ties with the emerging cultural movements of left-leaning intellectuals in Karnataka in the mid-1970s. The association challenged caste hierarchies in remote villages of Karnataka (Nair 2005: 110). 70 See http://karave.blogspot.com for more on KRV’s self-representations of its pro-Kannada agitations. The organization launched its own political party in 2009 to contest in the elections for the local municipal agency in Bangalore, but failed to make a mark. 71 While English-language papers did not black out these stories, they were de-emphasized in terms of the volume of coverage and visual display. This was despite the fact that several English-speaking journalists shared the same sentiments and believed it was their professional duty to cover rural issues. In relative terms, The Hindu and Deccan Herald assigned more stories on rural India than newer English-language papers or re-launched papers like the TOI. 72 The IT workforce in the city constituted less than 5 percent of Bangalore’s population. But this illustrates the exaggerated notions among journalists about the size and hypervisibility of the IT sector in the public domain. 73 The changes introduced by the Times group in the organizational structure and news policies of VK was another significant factor. However, these changes were mostly limited to the supplements, while the main sheet was left relatively untouched when I was carrying out the fieldwork. In the conclusions, I  discuss how the Times management brought about a thorough makeover of VK’s main sheet in the later years of its acquisition. 74 In the next chapter, however, I  examine the fissures and friction emerging within the TOI newsroom. 75 Pollock (1998: 34). 76 Borrowing Henri Lefebvre’s distinction between ‘the right to the city’ and ‘the right to property’, Ananya Roy discusses how urban informality entails struggles over city space and resources that go beyond the delimited idea of property ownership (2003: 155). 77 Report on June 4, 2008. 78 Report on June 28, 2008. 79 The final wish list consisted of these demands: ‘1.We should have a minister for Bangalore; 2. Have nodal agency like the Bangalore Agenda Task Force; 3. Clear debris from drains on a regular basis; 4. Improve mass transport systems; 5. “Healthcare for all” should be the objective; 6. Empower Lokayukta with prosecution powers; 7.  Crack down on land encroachment; 8.  Boost industrial development of Tier II and Tier III cities; 9. Modernize the police force; 10. Restore the green cover of the city; 11. Ensure road contractors follow the standards; 12. Set up a single window to clear industry proposals; 13.

Notes to pages 170–175

241

Promote rainwater harvesting aggressively; 14. Develop satellite townships with infrastructure; 15.Civic groups should be involved in urban planning; 16. Develop Bangalore as a tourist destination.’ Report on June 20, 2008. 80 Nandy (2001: 13). 81 Nair gives an extensive account of the new cultural movements of the 1970s that were spearheaded by left-wing writers and theater artists. ‘Samudaya’ and other cultural movements challenged class exploitation, superstition and state oppression, by staging plays that captured these issues in their theme, style and approach. See Narayana for an illuminating discussion on the interactions between Kannada movements, Dalit movements and the Bandaya (revolutionary) literary movement in the mid-1970s and 1980s (2009: 247–256). See Raghavan and Manor (2009) for the dynamics of the formal political field and the salience of socialist ideologies during these decades in Karnataka. Gokak agitation involved mass mobilization of people across Karnataka to demand job reservation for Kannadigas in public-sector undertakings of the state and other state measures to promote Kannada. 82 Gidwani (2008). 83 Niranjana (2000: 4150).

5. ‘Journalists are pimps’: A triangulated axis of caste, language and politics Name has been changed. 1 2 In 2013, Siddaramiah became the Chief Minister of Karnataka representing the Congress party. 3 Baker (2008); Washbrook (1977). 4 The Mysore state had introduced reservation for backward classes in the police department as early as 1874 (Thimmaiah 1993). 5 The Brahmin community in Mysore, as elsewhere in India, was the first to take full advantage of expanded education under colonial rule and occupy bureaucratic positions (Manor 1977). The top bureaucratic positions, including that of Chief Minister (Dewan) were long held by Brahmins. As early as 1800, Krishnaraja Wodeyar III patronized Brahmins with land grants and allowed them to grow as a ‘service elite’ (Ramakrishnan 1997: 44). By 1891, 63.8 percent of all Brahmins in Mysore were literate – the third highest average among Brahmins of all states, including the presidencies (Chandrashekar 2004). In the 1921 census, they accounted for only 3.6 percent of the population but held 70 percent of higher administrative jobs. As Hettne notes, ‘they were generally not big landholders but their power base was primarily urban and their most important asset was Western education’ (Hettne 1977: 138). 6 Caste politics in Karnataka in the post-independence years continued to be dominated by Okkaligas, Veerashaivas and Brahmins (Harikumar 2006; Raghavan and Manor 2009). While Okkaligas were the dominant castes in the rural areas – landed and numerically strong – until they extended their dominance into the formal political field, Lingayats were also the landed, trading, and often educated, professional classes (Harikumar 2006). On the other hand, the non-Brahmin movement in princely Mysore and Devaraj

242

Notes to pages 175–183

Urs’s policies to advocate on behalf of the backward caste groups in the 1970s eased the way for several backward caste groups such as Kurubas and Eedigas into formal politics. For discussions on caste politics and caste dynamics in Karnataka, see Manor (1977); Raghavan and Manor (2009); Srinivas (1996). For a detailed historical discussion and ethnographic insights into Brahmin caste groups, see Bairy (2010). 7 In the Introduction, a brief outline of Mysore history mentions the act of ‘Rendition’ in 1881 that transferred the Mysore region from colonial administration to the royalty under stringent power-transfer agreements. 8 Kaviraj (1995). 9 Hettne (1977). 10 In 1910, Mysore Star had a circulation of 2,000; Vrittanta Patrike, 4,950; Sadhwi, 1,300; and Okkaligara Patrike, 1,500. The only other newspaper with comparable circulation was Harvest Field (English), with a circulation of 1,800. Other papers  – Khasimul-Akhbar, Mysore Times, Ul-Mysore  – had circulation of fewer than 600. In 1917, Vrittanta Patrike enjoyed a circulation of 5,100; Sadhwi, 1,800; Okkaligara Patrike, 2,000; and Sampadabhyudaya, 1,500. Circulation of papers such as Mysore Patriot, The Karnataka, Ul-Mysore and Khasim-ul-Akhbar was fewer than 600 (Ramakrishan 1997: 165–166). 11 Hettne (1977). 12 Kaviraj (1992). Ti.Ta. Sharma’s Vishva Karnataka and M.  Seetharama Shastry’s Veerakesari, in the closing decades of the nineteenth century, were known for their vociferous attacks on the ruling establishment articulated through reinvented notions of Hindu ethics and democratic justice. 13 Parts of this argument have appeared in Udupa (2010). 14 Dirks (2001). 15 The Daily Post, December 28, 1908. 16 Mysore Star, August 7, 1921. 17 Vrittanta Patrike, June 2, 1921. 18 Mysore Star, July 15, 1923. 19 Pollock (1998). 20 The Karnataka, November 13, 1915. 21 Mysore Star, August 14, 1921. 22 Bangalore Times, April 18, 1929. 23 Social order and action based on the traditional division of Hindu society into four varnas (social classes) – Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra – and four ashramas or temporal phases of life – Brahmacharya (period of study and celibacy), Grihastha (being a householder), Vanaprastha (withdrawal and semi-retreat) and Sanyasa (renunciation). 24 Sampadabhyudaya, May 3, 1920. 25 Mysore Patriot, March 7, 1928. 26 Mysore Star, August 14, 1921. 27 Gundappa (1928, 2001: 29). 28 Ramaswamy (2001: 60). 29 Bangalore Times, April 18, 1929. 30 Bangalore Times, April 18, 1929. 31 Naregal (2001). 32 Quigley (1997: 116).

Notes to pages 186–195

243

33 Anderson (1991: 40). As Daniel Hallin notes, ‘from the time of the Thirty Years War in Northern and Central Europe, newspapers began to evolve as means of expression for social groups engaged in conflict and ideological competition with one another’ (2005: 227). 34 Niranjana (2000: 4149). 35 Name has been changed. 36 Dirks (2001: 7). 37 Bayly (2008: 307). 38 Roberts (2008: 462). 39 In the Kambalapalli tragedy, seven members of a Dalit family were burnt alive in a small village (Kambalapalli) in Kolar district in South Karnataka bordering Andhra Pradesh in 2000. Citing lack of evidence, a trial court acquitted all the accused in 2007. Progressive groups across the state staged protests, but there were no arrests. 40 Bétaille (2002). 41 The pro-Hindu and pro-Brahmin bias was evident in the coverage on several issues, including controversies sparked by the extensive coverage extended to right-wing sympathizer and Kannada writer S.L. Bhyrappa’s novel A︊varan￴a, the Tippu Sultan controversy and the proposed ban against cow slaughter, espousing Hindutva politics in all these cases. The Minister for Higher Education in the BJP cabinet (D.H. Shankaramurthy) sparked a controversy in 2006 when he described Tippu Sultan, the ruler of the Mysore kingdom until 1799, as a ‘traitor to Kannada’. These allegations came in the wake of S.L. Bhyrappa’s accusations in his novels that Tippu Sultan discouraged and stunted the growth of Kannada during his rule. These voices found expression in VK’s voluminous coverage of the controversy. For a critique of pro-Hindu treatises on the Muslim kings of Mysore, see Shivasundar (2006). VK also favorably portrayed the ruling BJP government’s proposal to ban cow slaughter, which was later drafted as a bill. The ‘Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2010’ was passed by the Karnataka Assembly in 2011, despite strong opposition from Congress and other political parties that termed the legislation ‘draconian’, ‘anti-secular’ and ‘unconstitutional’. The controversy was soon eclipsed by a string of several corruption-related issues of the BJP government. Newspaper reports mentioned the passing of the bill without any detailed discussion on the issue. 42 In the limited body of surveys available on the caste background of journalists in India, the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (Delhi) found that out of 300 senior journalists across 74 English-language and Hindi newspapers and television channels in Delhi, ‘Hindu upper caste men’, who make up 8 percent of the nation’s population, hold 71 percent of the top jobs in the national media. Select findings of this study were published in The Hindu and other newspapers. See:  www.hindu.com/2006/06/05/stories/2006060504981400. htm (accessed on April 18, 2011). Anand et al. (2006) similarly point out that the Indian media comprise ‘largely of upper caste, urban professionals’. This point was also made by several journalists during the interviews. 43 In a nationwide survey covering a sample of 835 journalists working in English and 11 Indian-languages publications in urban India (including 81

244

Notes to pages 195–204

respondents from Karnataka), Balasubramanya (2006) found that 35  percent had formal education in journalism. 44 Srinivas (1997: 307). 45 Many tabloids and weblogs in Bangalore exposed the names of journalists who had benefited from the allotment of residential plots under the Chief Minister’s discretionary quota, especially during the Congress rule between 1999 and 2003. Similar challenges to journalistic credentials erupted nationally during the 2G telecom spectrum controversy in 2011, when nexuses between industrialists, lobbyists and journalists were widely debated on public forums. 46 In the context of the early embrace of private higher education, many private higher educational institutes in Karnataka are owned and run by influential politicians. See Kaul (1993) for a detailed discussion. 47 Manor (1997: 265). 48 Mudhai (2007) finds a similar practice among African journalists to sell or give away hot stories to Western journalists against authoritarian regimes. These stories got picked up by the local media after they appeared in the international news media. Such journalistic practices of secret-sharing entailed ‘diminished danger to local journalists’ (p. 539). 49 In his survey, Balasubramanya found that 39% of journalists fell in the income group of 5,001–10,000 rupees a month, followed by 12% in the monthly income group of 10,001–15,000 rupees. Some 58% of the respondents owned two-wheelers, only 20% of the respondents owned cars, while 22% of the respondents did not own any vehicle. Of the journalists interviewed, 76% did not have Internet connection at home (2006: 92). 50 See also Jeffrey (2001); Loynd (2008); Uniyal (2003). 51 Kamath and Vijaybhaskar (2009); Upadhya (2009). 52 Chari (2004: 33).

Conclusion: Grounding news, grounding the global Van der Veer (2001). 1 2 The ‘mega deal’ in the Indian media industry was struck when the largest business house in India, Reliance Industries Limited, owned by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, acquired Network 18 Media and Investments Limited, a large media company with television news channels, business channels, entertainment channels, multimedia portals and business magazines (including the license for Forbes India). The much- speculated deal was finalized in 2014 when Reliance set aside 4,000 crore rupees (664 million USD) to acquire a 78 percent stake in Network 18, in anticipation of rolling out its fourth-generation (4G spectrum) digital offers. With this move, Reliance also held control over one of the largest regional media groups, Eenadu in South India, which had merged with Network 18. For a discussion on this development, see Thakurta (2014). 3 The war of words between a section of Kannada litterateurs and the BJP government in 2011 over the government’s decision to invite Infosys chief N.R. Narayana Murthy to inaugurate the World Kannada Meet in Belgaum

Notes to pages 204–209

245

revealed the regional government’s efforts to redefine Kannada conventions overwhelmingly in economic terms, and to keep the cultural sphere as peripheral, if not irrelevant, to these state-sponsored events. The choice of a ‘home-grown’ industrialist to inaugurate the meet was justified by the Chief Minister as a way to showcase the entrepreneurial spirit and business successes of the Kannadigas. While the Chief Minister tried to deflect the vexing problems challenging the stability of his regime through such extravagant celebrations, implicit in these public statements was also the government’s efforts to encourage the non-resident Kannadiga business community to invest in Karnataka. Within the government, there were also frequent references to similar efforts by the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi (2011) to attract the affluent Gujarati diaspora to invest in the region. See TOI report on March 11, 2011, pp. 1 and 5. 4 Ettema and Glasser (2007). 5 Weintraub and Kumar (1997). 6 Van der Veer (2001). 7 The history of the distinction between public and private in relation to the emergence of modern industries and Enlightenment philosophy in eighteenth-century Europe is too well known to be elaborated here. 8 Habermas (1987). 9 Garnham (1990). 10 David Manning White’s famous case study of ‘Mr. Gates’, a newspaper wire editor, is illustrative of this vein of inquiry (White 1950). Individual newsworkers’ influence is assessed in terms of personal biases and value systems, social origins, creativity and cognitive capacities, and political attitudes. Yet another usage, especially in the professional literature, raises ethical questions around journalism’s invasion into people’s privacy (Mayes 2002). 11 The perspective of individuals orienting themselves to news texts was fully developed within the widely used model of uses and gratification in the positivist communication research tradition (Katz et al. 1973–1974). 12 Benn and Gaus (1983). 13 For more on deliberative democracy models, see Bohman and Rehg (1997). 14 Rajagopal (2002: 65). 15 Guano (2008). 16 McNair (1998). 17 Hartley (2009). 18 Hartley (2009) argues that the metaphor ‘industry’ is not a natural category but a derived term rooted in the history of industrial capitalism of the West. Media studies borrowed this metaphor and carried the baggage that came with it  – the hierarchical structure of work organization, division of labor, capital and disciplined workforce that characterized early forms of industrial capitalism. He contends that this paradigm no longer holds true for the current phase of networked knowledge creation and dialogue. 19 Hartley (2009: 19). 20 Hartley (2009) uses network theory, game theory, complexity theory and evolutionary economics to draw the new model of media production in which human capital is the source of production. 21 Hartley (2009: 19).

246

Notes to pages 210–216

22 Fuchs (2014). 23 The rise of the ‘Internet Hindus’, right-wing social media activists, in the 2000s revealed growing co-option of the social media discourse for political gains (Udupa 2015). 24 Andrejevik (2007). 25 However, the overlap was not a mere coincidence, since pro-Hindu sentiments and ideologies had been present, if not overwhelmingly salient, in Kannada nationalist narratives since the late colonial years. This came out in the open repeatedly in the years of Kannada unification movements and more recent agitations for water-sharing with the neighboring states and the state television’s decision to broadcast news bulletins in Urdu in 1994. 26 Giddens (1990: 18). 27 Beck (2006: 33); Hannerz (1996). 28 See Grewal and Kaplan (1994); Kraidy (2005). 29 See Das and Poole (2004). 30 Appadurai and Breckenridge (1996); Ginsburg et al. (2002); Jameson (1991). 31 Cottle (2009). 32 Mazzarella (2004b: 348). 33 Appadurai and Breckenridge (1996: 4). 34 Hasty (2005: 22). 35 Parts of this discussion have appeared in Udupa (2012). 36 Deshpande (2003). 37 Hall (1997: 25). 38 Wilson and Dissanayake (1996: 1).

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Index

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), 210 Abu-Lughod, Lila, 52 Adorno, Theodor, 13 advertising advertisement-led revenue models, 97 advertorials, 46 brand image and, 40–41 localization of, 39–40, 41 Medianet (TOI), 46, 51, 70 performance/revenue-based salaries, 43, 46–47 private treaties, 46 readership consumption patterns, 17 of real estate, 46–47 targeted readership segments, 97, 101–102, 105 Anderson, Benedict, 180, 181, 206 Andrejevik, Mark, 211 Appadurai, Arjun and Breckenridge, Carol, 215 Arendt, Hannah, 14 audiences, see also new readership relationship with news media, 20–21, 22 Bangalore, see also urban renewal agenda aspirational, consumer audience, 50 ‘bastardized culture’ of, 144–145 brand image, 74–75, 156–157 Cantonment–South Bangalore split, 41–42, 112 expansion of, 110 garment factories, 5 as high-tech outsourcing hub, 3–4, 53 local capital investment in, 4–5 local festivals, 42, 148–151 new middle classes, emergence of, 34–36, 42 news media expansion, 3 news media, history of, 12–13, 32–34 night-life, 51

270

Refresh Bangalore campaign, 73, 74–75, 78–79 Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF), 74 Bangalore International Airport as Brand Bangalore, 156–157 connectivity, coverage of, 157–158 land acquisition and Kannada, 158–161 news sources accessed, media coverage, 162–166 as PPP project, 153–154 print media coverage, 108–109, 154–156 renamed as Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, 158–159, 184–185 Bangalore Mirror (BM) Bangalore International Airport, coverage of, 158 city celebrity visits, 62–63 colloquial English, 82 customized market research surveys, 100 experiential journalism, 86 market position, 39 offices of, 90 organized public events, role of, 63–64 young journalists, 85 Bangalore Reporters’ Guild, 193–194, 195 Bangalore Times concept/brand value, 50–51 journalists on, 49 marketing techniques, 51 offices of, 49 urban audience of, 49–50 use of Medianet stories, 51 Beck, Ulrich, 215 Benga￴lur u Nirma‫ﷳ‬paka Kempe‫ﷳ‬gowda Ke‫ﷳ‬ndra Samiti (The Bangalore Founder Kempegowda Central Committee), 29–30 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Brahmin support for, 194, 195 expansion in Karnataka, 61

Index Hindutva agenda and, 8, 203 use of desire discourse, 18 use of social media, 210–211 bhasha media, see also Kannada-language media animosity toward migrant groups, 141–142 anti-North Indian rhetoric, 146–147 anti-Tamil rhetoric, 143, 145 and caste system, 173–174 concept of, 132, 133–134 cultural politics of, 147–148 cynicism against migrant workers, 145–147 Kannada identity politics of, 143–144 moments of subalternity, 130, 133 overview of, 18–20 and political subjectivities, 204 bilingual dynamics, see also bhasha media; English-language media; Kannada-language media Bangalore International Airport, coverage of, 154–165 within bhasha media, 19–20 caste and language, 182–184 within the global city discourse, 124 Hindi/English news values and power dynamics, 91–92 homestay attacks, coverage of, 9–11 non-Brahmin movement, Mysore, 93, 174–175, 182 print communalism and, 182 shared narratives, readership community, 111 Vijaya Karnataka readership, 105–106 Bourdieu, Pierre biological/social libido, 16 field theory, 20–21, 31–32, 95–96, 202 Boyer, Dominic, 108 Brahmins, see also non-Brahmin movement dominance in state bureaucracy, 174 promotion of, Vijaya Karnataka, 189–190 brand image Brand Bangalore, 74–75, 156–157 brand value, Bangalore Times, 51 English/Kannada differences and, 102–103 local news and, 40–41 role of, 77–78 branding department (TOI) localization of news, 40–41 paper-specific brand identities, 104–105 performance/revenue-based salaries, 43 Refresh Bangalore campaign, 73, 74–75, 78–79

271 relationship with the editorial team, 37 role in city campaigns, 77–78 targeted readership segments, 101 Brosius, Christiane, 46 caste system, see also non-Brahmin movement; print communalism backward caste movement, 187–188, 189, 190 and Bangalore print media, 193–194 caste affiliations and print media, 190–191 caste alliances and journalism, 13, 196–197 caste attraction, 192 caste-based strength (journalists/political classes), 192–193, 195–196 within English-language media, 196–197 intra-caste news sharing, 192 invocation of caste, Ee Sanje, 185–187, 191 and language nexus, 173–174, 182–184 main caste groups, journalists, 194–195 as power weapon, 173 promotion of lower castes, Nehruvian state, 59–60 Chandavarkar, Rajnarayan, 14 circulation department (TOI) advertising and targeted readership segments, 41 microlevel, middle-class activism, 71–72 ‘Mrs and Mr Bangalore Times’ contest, 52–53 Citizen’s charter campaign, 126–129, 169–170 city campaigns as de-centralized news, 76, 79–80 class background of journalists, 59–60 and the global city discourse, 15–16, 25, 66 Kannada readers, 112, 113 mediated desire as class aspiration, 17–18 colonial knowledge politics, 176–177 community activities job fairs, 70 marketing agendas and, 69–70 as means of news making, 70 consumption aspirational, consumer audiences, 50 cities as sites of, 52 readership consumption patterns and advertising, 17, 101–102 corporate leaders business news needs of, 56 growing importance of, 53

272

Index

corporate leaders (cont.) ‘Mrs and Mr Bangalore Times’ contest, 52–53 as new role models, 55–56, 61 positive publicity for, 56 role in urban governance, 56–58, 72–74 support for public –private partnerships (PPP), 75 Cottle, Simon, 108 cultural conflict tradition vs. urban modernity, 7, 8–9 women’s rights and pink chaddi campaign, 9–11, 211–212 cultural production brand promotion in, 77–78 culture industry model, 13 field theory, 95–96 Dalita Sangharsa Samiti (Forum for Dalit Movement), 37, 165 Dalits coverage of protests, English dailies, 87 journalists, prejudice against, 187–189 support for in Prajavani, 187–188 Davis, Mike, 47 Deccan Herald community activities, 69 historical stance, 33 image of, market research, 102 market position, 103, 123 offices of, 29 support for backward caste movement, 187–188 Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F., 16, 147 democratic participation, see also city campaigns Lokayukta and visibility traps, 82–83 through structured visibility of news media, 14–15 Duggan, Lisa, 72 editors, changing roles, 38, 58, 68 Ee Sanje, 185–187, 191 Eisenlohr, Patrick, 80 English–Kannada binary, see also English language media; Kannada language media epistemological and performative functions of, 95 journalists’ perceptions of, 107–108 readership differences, 98–100 English-language media, see also Bangalore Mirror (BM); Times of India (TOI  ) group accessible standard of English, 81–82

advertisers’ profiles, 105 Bangalore International Airport, coverage of, 108–109, 155–158, 159–160, 162–166 bureaucratic sources, state information, 110 caste, 190–191 caste practices and, 197 within caste–language–journalism matrix, 182–183 cosmopolitanism of, 111–112, 113 crossover of Kannada journalists into English language media, 199–201 as culturally empty, 148 differences from Kannada readers, 111, 114–115, 117 during the princely Mysore state, 92–93 economic dominance of, 134 English journalists’ views of Kannada journalists, 122–123 homestay attacks, coverage of, 9 Kannada journalists’ views of English journalists, 117–118, 119, 123, 141, 144, 167 market research surveys, 102–104 the poor, coverage of, 86–88, 108 readership surveys, 98 television channels, 39 urban modernity, coverage of, 10–11 ethnographic fieldwork and research angles, 21–24 experiential journalism, 86, 94 farmers defocus on rural issues, 42–43 issues and the citizens’ charter campaign, 170 Kannada media, coverage of, 151–153, 159, 167 Karna‫ﷳ‬taka Raita Sangha (Karnataka Farmers Association), 167 loss of land, Bangalore International Airport development, 158–161 female reporters on the Bangalore Times, 49 beggar-in-the-AC-bus story, 85 and caste identity, 173 disapproval of by Kannada journalists, 120, 141, 145 use of caste against, 173 Féral, Josette, 69 Gibson, Timothy, 158 Giddens, Anthony, 215

Index Gitlin, Todd, 35, 103, 108 globalization anthropology of, 215 globality–locality nexus, 215–217 reterritorialization, 184 role of media communication, 215 urban renewal agenda and, 15–16 Gokak agitation, 120, 171 Goldman, Michael, 45–46 Gundappa, D.V., 93, 175, 178 Habermas, Jürgen, 11 Hannerz, Ulf, 21, 215 Hartley, John, 208–209 Hindi news practices, 91–92, 132 The Hindu Bangalore International Airport, coverage, 156, 157, 159–160 market position, 33, 103, 123 Hindu Jagarana Vedike (HJV) (Hindu Awareness Forum), 7 Hindutva movement Hindu nationalism, 203 Hindutva symbols, 92 links with Vijaya Karnataka, 104 pink chaddi campaign, 8 Sri Rama Sene (Sri Rama’s Army), 9–10 homestay controversy (Mangalore), 7–9 Horkheimer, Max, 13 ideal-local importance of infrastructure, 73 real estate boom and, 45–46 Indian Express, 69 Indian Readership Survey (IRS), 81, 98, 101–102 infrastructure development, see also Bangalore International Airport Bangalore, 4 Bangalore–Mysore Corridor Project, 152 basic, Kannada readers and, 113 and creation of ideal-local, 73 as ‘hard’ news stories, 43–44 public–private partnerships (PPP), 4, 56–57, 72 reader-connect events, 71 Refresh Bangalore campaign, 74–75 road-widening project, 83–84 role of corporate leaders, 72–73 IT industry, see also corporate leaders as adversary of Kannada culture, 151 Bangalore as high-tech outsourcing hub, 3–4, 53

273 and bastardization of Bangalorean culture, 144–145 employment of Kannadigas in, 142–143, 165–166 media management strategies, 56 Jain, Kajri, 19, 96, 131–132 Jain, Samir, 31, 56, 58 Jeffrey, Robin, 19 job fairs, 70 journalism, see also Page 3 journalism; print communalism anthropological scholarship on, 21 Bourdieuan field theory and, 20–21 chaos theory and open network theory, critique of, 208–211 experiential journalism, 86, 94 petition journalism, 175 urbanization of news discourse, 1–2, 202 journalists, see also English-language media; Kannada-language media; print communalism allotment of residential plots to, 195 antipathy between journalist groups, 90–91 bureaucratic sources, state information, 110 caste and class background of, 59–60 crossover of Kannada journalists into English-language media, 199–200 Dalit journalists, prejudice against, 187–189 editorial autonomy of, 38, 58, 68 English journalists’ views of Kannada journalists, 122–123 female reporters, antipathy toward, 120, 141, 145 gossip culture, 119 insider/outsider binary, English journalists, 119–121 journalism degrees, 194 Kannada, characteristics of, 171 Kannada journalists’ perspective on Bangalore, 115–116 Kannada journalists’ perspective on English journalists, 117–118, 119, 123, 141, 144, 167 language-based status, 182–183 main caste groups, 194–195 new news-gathering techniques, 76 organizational pedagogy of, 58–59 Press Club, 117–119 shared narratives, readership community, 111

274

Index

Kannada (language), see also bhasha media; Prajavani; Vijaya Karnataka (VK) classical language status, 141 as empty signifier, 135–136 Kannada nationalism movements, 134–135, 140 and land, 159–160 moments of subalternity, 130, 131–132, 151–153 Kannada language media, see also bhasha media; English–Kannada binary; Prajavani; Vijaya Karnataka (VK) accessible language of, 82 advertisers’ profiles, 105 Bangalore International Airport, coverage of, 154–156, 159, 162–166 Bangalore–Mysore Corridor Project, coverage of, 152 bureaucratic sources, state information, 110 caste affiliations and, 190–191 concept of local news, 43–44 differences from English readers, 111, 114–115, 117 as distinct from TOI aspirational readership, 136 distinctive news sources, 141 during the princely Mysore state, 92–93 English journalists’ views of Kannada journalists, 122–123 growth in urban news, 110 influence of TOI news model, 108–109 journalists’ characteristics, 171 journalists as cynical outsiders, 115–116 journalists’ perceptions of English journalists, 117–118, 119, 123, 141, 144, 167 language–land–community matrix, 163–165, 167–169, 170 market research surveys, 102–104 newspapers in, 3 pink chaddi campaigners, coverage of, 212–214 political news in, 113, 114 readership profile, 105–106, 109, 111–113, 168 readership surveys, 98 rooted culture of, 116 Times of India Kannada (TOIK), 106–107 urban modernity, coverage of, 10–11 Kannada na‫ﷳ‬du invocations of land, 144, 151–153 Kannada janate and, 129–130 representatives of, 135

Kannada Prabha (KP) Bangalore International Airport, coverage of, 158 demands for employment of local workforce in IT industry, 143 homestay vandalization (Mangalore), coverage of, 9 Kannada identity politics of, 143–144, 146–147 market position, 123 Karkaria, Bachi, 49, 96–97 Karna‫ﷳ‬taka Raita Sangha (Karnataka Farmers’ Association), 167 Karnataka Rakshana V e‫ﷳ‬dike (KRV) (Karnataka Protection Forum) at the citizens’ charter ceremony, 127 demands for employment of local workforce in IT industry, 142–143, 165–166 garment workers protests, 165 as necessary evil, 171 as pro-people organization, 141 protests against Bengalur u Habba (Bangalore Festival), 149–150 Kavira‫ﷳ‬jama‫ﷳ‬rga (KRM) increased scholarly interest in, 138 Pollock’s thesis on, 137–138 as resistance text to globalization, 138–140 Klein, Naomi, 77–78 Laclau, Ernesto, 135 Lead India campaign, 57, 74 liberalism, see also post-liberalization, India Bangalore as successful liberalization example, 3–4 and colonialism, 14 neoliberal news discourse, 65–66, 72 urban renewal agenda within, 15–16 women’s rights and pink chaddi campaign, 10, 15 Liechty, Mark, 17–18 Lingayats caste alliances with Okkaliga, 175, 177, 181, 187 employment on Lokavani, 191 readership, Vijaya Karnataka, 190 local news brand image and, 40–41 crossover of Kannada journalists into English language media, 199–200 cultural content and, 41–42 defocus on rural issues, 42–43 as de-spatialized and cosmopolitan, 42–43 as global-local, 44 new market in, 39–40

Index reader-driven focus of, 82 targeted readership segments, 41 TOI city campaigns, 70–71 as urban news, 43–44 Lokavani, 191 Lokayukta (public ombudsman) TOI popular campaign to reinstate, 83 and visibility traps, 82–83 McNair, Brian, 208, 209 Manor, James, 196 marketing Bangalore Times, 51 and community activities, 69–70 Page 3 journalism, 51 media ethics homestay controversy (Mangalore), 7–8 Medianet, 46, 51, 70 mediated desire as anger (class), 17–18 as aspiration, 17 new discourse, news making, 203 as productive and materialistic, 16 and structured visibility, 18–19 mediated visibility, 14, 203–204 Meyer, Birgit, 80 M.G. (Mahatma Gandhi) Road atmosphere of, 29 as Bangalore’s hub, 41, 48 middle classes, new, see also new readership activism of, 71, 88 cosmopolitanism of, 44 emergence of, Bangalore, 34–36, 42 reader-response activism and, 81, 83–84 as target readership, TOI, 34–36 Misra, R.K., 57, 74, 121 Mitchell, Lisa, 133 Mitchell, Timothy, 19, 95 Mouffe, Chantal, 11–12 ‘Mrs and Mr Bangalore Times’ contest, 52–53 Muslim reporters, 194 Mysore, princely state of democratic structures, 12 English-language media in, 92–93 non-Brahmin movement, 93, 174–175, 182 Mysore Star bilingual news production, 182 non-Brahmin movement and, 177 promotion of caste alliances, 175, 176–177 Nair, Janaki, 47, 71, 134–135, 140 Nanjundaswamy, M. D., 120 Nehruvian state, 55, 59–60

275 neoliberal news discourse, 65–66, 72 new-age management practices, 68 New Indian Express, 156, 157, 159 new media increased consumer role in, 208–209 interactivity of, 65–66 journalism theories on, 208–209 and political activism, 210–211 and religious practices, 80 threat to print media, 67–68, 69 new readership as aspirational, consumer audience, 50 characteristics of, 34–36, 38–39 consumption pattern information, 17, 101–102 contrasted with journalists’ habitus, 198–199 corporate leaders as new role models, 55–56, 61 expansion of, 81–82, 97 expectations of, Kannada readers, 109–110 flexible market segmentation, 105 within global city narrative, 79, 204 journalists’ perceptions of, 58–59, 107–108 as key protagonists in news production, 80–81 localization of news and, 82 and Page 3 journalism, 51 political news and, 55 targeted advertising, 97 targeted readership segments, 41, 97, 101 news media audience relationship, 20–21 in Bangalore, history of, 32–34 de-centralized news gathering, 76 desire-as-aspiration and commercialization, 17 news production and, relationship, 80–81 production of and field theory, 95–96 public agenda vs. capital interests, 5–7, 11–12, 206–207 and urban renewal agenda, 20 newsrooms, open-door policies and, 67 non-Brahmin movement merit and reservation policies, 177–179 numerical based arguments, 177 within princely state of Mysore, 93, 174–175, 182 print communalism and, 93, 180 print media, coverage of, 175–177 traditional social order counter-arguments, 13, 179–180 use of bilingual publications, 93, 182

276

Index

Obama, Barack, 52 objectivity, news value of ideological effects of, 92 multiple objectivities, post 1990s, 93–95 staggered objectivity, 94–95 Okkaligara Patrike, 175, 177 Okkaligas caste alliance with the Lingayats, 175, 177, 181, 186–187 The Daily Post’s description of, 176 dominance in journalism, 194 journalists at Vijaya Karnataka, 189–190 non-Brahmin movement and, 174–175 promotion of, Ee Sanje, 185 organizational hierarchy, 68 organizational pedagogy ideological clarity of the TOI, 59 new readership, awareness of, 58–59 revised, 58–59 Orsini, Francesca, 132 Page 3 journalism, see also Bangalore Times aspirational, consumer audience, 50 concept of, 50 as infotainment, 51–52 marketing techniques of, 51 objectivity and, 94 urban modernity and, 49–51 in Vijaya Karnataka, 110 Parameshwaran, Radhika, 50 patterned permeations organizational practices, 209–210 porosity and, 66–67, 80 Peterson, Mark Allen, 19, 91–92 petition journalism, 175 Pinches, Michael, 42 pink chaddi (underpants campaign) in the Kannada dailies, 212–214 Times of India (TOI) coverage, 15, 17, 211–212 women’s rights and, 9–11 political classes activism and new media, 210–211 anti-political class news discourse, 54–55 caste-based news politics, 192–193, 195–196 caste–language nexus and, 184–185 caste–print media nexus, 190 distrust of, 54–55, 60–61 shifts in, Karnataka, 61 political news in Bangalore, 110 distrust of political classes, 54–55, 60–61 for Kannada readers, 113, 114

new readers and, 55 objectivity in, 93–94 statement journalism and, 53–54 Pollock, Sheldon, 137–138 porosity active porosity strategy, TOI, 67–68 as patterned permeations, 66–67, 80 postcolonialism English and, 92, 124 Indian state and political corruption, 56, 72 and structured visibility, 14 urban studies, 15–16 and the vernacular, 131–132 post-liberalization, India changing political landscape, 61 emergence of a new middle class, 35–36, 42, 50, 55 media, post-liberalization, 5–7, 30–31 theory of the vernacular, 131–132 poverty coverage of, 108 the entrepreneurial poor, 87–88 the moral poor, 86 philanthropic news coverage, 86–87 PR agencies, corporate sector, 56 Prajavani buildings and location, 29–30 support for backward caste movement, 187–188, 189 weekly farmers’ supplements, 167 Press Club, Bangalore, 76, 117–119, 195 print communalism as distinct from print capitalism, 180 within non-Brahmin movement, 93, 180 promotion of caste alliances, 181 role of print media, 181–182 print media expansion in Bangalore, 3 expansion in India, 2–3 non-Brahmin movement, coverage of, 175–177 post-liberalization India, 5–7, 30–31 threat from new media, 67–68, 69 public sphere model, 11 public–private dichotomy, 205–206 public–private partnerships (PPP) Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF), 74 Bangalore International Airport, 153–154 corporate support for, 75 for infrastructure development, 4, 56–57, 72

Index Rajagopal, Arvind, 19, 77, 91–92, 95 Ramaswamy, Sumati, 132–133 Rao, Ursula, 19, 67, 91–92 reader-connect events citizen’s charter campaign, 126–129 civic activism and, 65 Times Connect events, 71 reader-response activism and expansion of readership base, 81–82, 83–84 and localization of news, 82 middle-class access to, 81, 88 performance as participation events, 81 reinstatement of Lokayukta, 82–83 road-widening project, 84 readership surveys customized market research surveys, 100–101, 102–104 income and class differences, English/ Kannada readers, 98–100 for rationalization of audiences, 97–98 Times of India (TOI) group, 35, 81 real estate allotment of plots to journalists, 195 boom in, 45–46 luxury, secure complexes, 47 Property Shows, 47 symbiotic relationship with TOI, 47–48 Times Property supplement, 47 Refresh Bangalore campaign, 73, 74–75, 78–79 road-widening project, 84 Roberts, Nathaniel, 187 Roy, Ananya, 73 rural issues, see also farmers defocus on rural issues, 42–43 English-language media coverage of, 200 rural/urban split, news coverage, 112–113, 115–116, 200 Sangh Parivar, 92 Sanje Vani, 185, 187, 191 Sankeshwara, Vijaya, 104 Settar, S., 138 split public thesis, 92, 93–95 Sri Rama Sene (Sri Rama’s Army), 9–10 Stahlberg, Per, 19, 91–92, 95 structured visibility framework of, 13–15 and mediated desire, 18–19 in the news field, 201 and public–private distinction, 207–208 subjectivity, journalistic, 94

277 Tamil (language), 132–133, 139–140 Tamil Nadu, 143 Telugu (language), 133 Thompson, John, 14 Times of India (TOI) group, see also advertising; Bangalore Mirror (BM); branding department (TOI); Vijaya Karnataka (VK) active porosity strategy, 67–68 advertisement-led revenue models, 97 advertising department (response team), 38 Bangalore edition, 3 Bangalore International Airport, coverage of, 155–158, 159, 160 Bengalur u Habba (Bangalore Festival), coverage of, 149, 150 branding department, 37 circulation department (research and marketing division), 37–38 citizen’s charter campaign, 169 city campaigns, 73, 74–75, 77, 79–81 dominance of, 20 editorial autonomy, 38, 58, 68 as emblematic of insider/outsider political binary, 144–145 increased circulation volumes, 36–39 Kannada culture, coverage of, 148 Kannada journalists’ views of, 121–122 liberalization friendly news model of, 30–31 localization of news, focus on, 39–40 new, young professional readership, 34–36, 38–39 news model, 30–31, 51, 108–109, 123, 214–215 offices of, 48–49 organizational hierarchy, 36–37 pink chaddi campaigners, coverage of, 15, 17, 211–212 political news policy, 54–55 political statement journalism in, 53–54 private security practices, 70 pro-industry policies, journalists subversion of, 197–198 Property Shows, 47 real estate coverage, 45 revised news model, 33–34 Times Property supplement, 47 Times of India Kannada (TOIK), 106–107 Upadhya, Carol, 4 urban land, see also real estate acquisition for development projects, 45, 83–84, 158–161

278

Index

urban land (cont.) and bhasha media, 163–165, 167–169, 170 conversion of agricultural land, 160–161 and cultural purity, 9 for the high-tech industry, 160–161 land bribes for journalists, 195 land scams, 60, 61 transfer of development rights, 83–84 urban modernity commercialization of news media and, 17 contestation (homestay vandalization, Mangalore), 7, 8–9 Page 3 journalism and, 49–51 uniformity of, 52 urban renewal agenda in Bangalore, 4–5 within globalization/liberalization, 15–16, 66 and invocation of caste, 184–185 links with news production, 20 postcolonial studies and, 15–16 role of corporate leaders, 56–58, 72–74 role of infrastructure development, 73 Veerabasappa, Yajaman, 178 Venkatakrishniah, M., 93, 179 Venkatesh, Abhimani T., 185–186, 192 vernacular languages, see also bhasha media as alternative discursive location, 131–132 within populist national struggles, 132–133 term, use of, 132 Vidhana Soudha (State Legislative Assembly), 76, 149, 151 Vijaya Karnataka (VK) adoption of TOI news model, 214–215 advertisement-led revenue models, 97 anti-Dalit stance, 189

antipathy toward Bangalore Mirror, 90–91, 122–123 award for VK journalist, 160–161 Bangalore International Airport, coverage of, 155–156, 160–161 on Bengalur u Habba (Bangalore Festival), 151 brand identity of, 104–105 caste in the newsroom, 191, 192–193 changing reader expectations, 109–110 circulation of, 104 citizen’s charter campaign, 126–129, 169–170 on Kannada’s classical language status, 141 launch of, 3 Lingayat readership, 190 market position, 123 new readership for, 97, 105–106 offices of, 90 Okkaligas journalists at, 189–190 pan-Karnataka presence, 104 pink chaddi campaigners, coverage of, 213–214 political journalists, 114 pro-Hindutva stance, 104, 189, 190 protests against by backward caste groups, 190 and rural journalism, 112–113, 115–116, 159, 160–161, 167 Sunday literary supplement, future of, 116–117 water supply coverage, 115 Vishva Karnataka, 177 Vrittanta Patrike, 177 Women, see also female reporters attacks on, homestay vandalization, 7, 8 pink chaddi campaign, 9–11, 211–212 Zelizer, Barbie, 111