Dalit journalist levels public humiliation allegations against BBC, broadcaster brushes off discrimination

Dalit journalist levels public humiliation allegations against BBC, broadcaster brushes off discrimination

According to the New York Times report, Meena Kotwal, the founder of news portal 'The Mooknayak', wanted to start a news outlet that focussed on marginalised communities as "she knew there were millions who desperately needed their stories told".

ANIUpdated: Monday, March 06, 2023, 11:09 PM IST
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Dalit journalist levels public humiliation allegations against BBC, broadcaster brushes off discrimination | AP

Leading American daily, The New York Times, published an article today that highlighted the rise of journalist Meena Kotwal belonging to the Dalit community who started a news outlet in India that told stories of marginalised groups in the country. In the article, Kotwal gave details of what it was like to work briefly at the BBC in India where she allegedly had to face "public humiliation and discrimination at work." According to the New York Times report, Meena Kotwal, the founder of news portal 'The Mooknayak', wanted to start a news outlet that focussed on marginalised communities as "she knew there were millions who desperately needed their stories told".

Kotwal narrated her experience of working at the BBC in New Delhi in its Hindi-language service in 2017, which she described as the beginning of "public humiliation and discrimination at work." "The honeymoon did not last long. A dominant-caste colleague (at the BBC) nudged Ms. Kotwal to reveal her own caste, she said, and then outed her to colleagues. It was the beginning of what she described as public humiliation and discrimination at work," according to the New York Times.

Kotwal went on to reveal that her complaints to her bosses at the BBC were "brushed off". After two years at the BBC, when she eventually filed an official complaint with BBC officials in London, her contract was not renewed and her complaint was dismissed.

"Her (Kotwal) bosses brushed off her concerns. One used a refrain often heard from people of dominant castes, telling her that Dalits no longer existed in modern India, according to messages viewed by The Times -- denying not just her complaint, but her community's very existence," according to the New York Times report titled, 'With Stories of her Oppressed community, a Journalist Takes Aim at the Walls of Caste.' "After two years on the job, she filed an official complaint with BBC officials in London. The company reviewed her claims of discrimination, according to an internal document, but ruled that her grievances were without "merit or substance." Her contract, due to end soon, was not renewed," added the New York Times in its report.

When NYT contacted the BBC for further clarification on this incident, the BBC refused to get into the details of the case and said that it "does not discuss individual personnel matters and fully complies with Indian law." A London-based spokesman for the BBC gave a statement to the New York Times, saying, "We know there is always more to do in a global organization, but we are making significant progress in terms of the diversity of the people who work with us." The BBC is currently under investigation in India by the Income Tax department for alleged violations of transfer pricing rules that resulted in "vast diversion of profits" according to government sources in the know.

The New York Times interviewed other journalists from marginalised communities for this report, who also claimed to have undergone similar negative experiences in newsrooms.

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