Santosh Kumar Gautam hails from a poor family in Swaroop Bhanwan Dei and Mr. (Late) Chandradas. All his family members are illiterate except Santosh. He got opportunity to complete matriculation in the Janatha Inter College, Alambag. He became a graduate in Zoology, Botany and Chemistry in 2002 second class from Lucknow University. During that period his father Chandradas who was an agriculture laborer passed away. Struggling with financial crisis, he postponed his dream to be a post graduate in mass communication and entered into the fields to earn money. He became an electric bill collector who visits houses which have electric connection, read the meter and collect the bill. The visits opened his eyes which provided firsthand experience to observe how people live around him. He had seen the difference in life styles and big guys insulting mind set towards the downtrodden and the atrocities against the Dalits. The inquiring mind strived to become a journalist to fight against the social evils and the social apartheid.
The Dalit youth joined to his masters at Baba Saheb Ambedkar University, Lucknow. He became a post graduate in mass communication in 2011. He qualified National Eligibility Test, the test for Assistant Professorship conducted by University Grants Commission. The dream satisfied but he could not attain the goal. He began his career as a journalist as an intern of Nivik Kesari weekly newspaper. Then he joined in Speed News, a local cable television to be practiced the studies. During these periods he worked without payment. Then joined in Inqulabi-Nazar, vernacular newspaper and sister concern of Dainik Aag, the Urdu newspaper. He is a sub-editor in the Hindi newspaper from Lucknow since 2012. He earns 6000 RS per month. Every day he joins the desk by five o’ clock and returns to home by 1.30 AM. His work includes editing, layout and all other jobs to create a page. Also contribute reports and features. He had several byline stories.
To be an intern of a national daily, especially in English is a dream to him. He was trying for a more appreciating job. Then he is being realized that the intensity of media houses’ apartheid against the Dalits, especially in North India. Paradoxically the north Indian politics is an example for success in generating Dalit / caste politics. Let him reveal the stories. “I approached many news houses for a job. But all refused. I do not know why. I am well versed in my job. I do reporting, feature writing, editing and page designs. Also I’m a tech savvy. Still I’m out of the court of ‘good’ publishers. Only reason I can assume is I am a Dalit”.
Well we have certain popular figures from Dalit community in Big media houses. The number will be counted in a hand. They are the icons. On the expense of these icons, media houses counter attack the Dalit arguments that they are deprived off from media scene. Mr. Santosh applied for a post in E-TV. He appeared written test. After that appeared for interview. At last hopefully he was selected for the job. The human Resource department informed to bring a government officer to introduce him. He sends all documents which they needed. But the HR department yet not sends the appointment letter. He contacted the channel several times. The reply was” our boss didn’t sign your appointment letter.” The question is if Santosh is not eligible for the job why the media manager did collected his documents after completing all other procedures? He believes only after examining the documents, they identified that he is a Dalit.
He reveals another story. One of his best friends, Mr. Shukla who is a copy editor invited him to join in their media organization. It is an English newspaper; One among the widely circulated newspapers in North India. There were vacancies. Most probably such vacancies are filled with the experienced hands through their relationships as happened here. Shukla recommended Santosh for the post to the recruitment officer. Santosh went for an interview. After examining the resume and certificates, he replied: “Ok. I have filed your documents. At present there is no vacancy here. I will call you when vacancy opens.” He met his friend Shukla and informed that the recruitment officer’s response was not positive. After two or three days the friend revealed the top secret to Santosh only because of the close relationship “if you suggested a Brahmin boy, I might be considered. I cannot bear a Dalit here.”
What we heard from Santosh is true, it is a pathetic condition. The fourth estate is not guarding the majority of the under privileged sections of life. They are with the minority. The minority have everything like money, education and power. The powerless common people who are always marked as the real essence of democracy away from democratic interventions.