India’s voices of the voiceless

JOURNALISM: In a saturated media landscape dominated by men, India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women redefines what it means to be powerful.

(Translated from English by Google Gtranslate)

This year’s World Press Freedom Index ranks India way down at 142nd place. It’s one of the deadliest nations to be a journalist, in other words, and the dangers of carrying out accurate reporting there are only rising now that a Hindu nationalist government with a low tolerance for anything less than glowing commentary is in power. Keeping this in mind puts one in even greater awe of those running the Khabar Lahariya newspaper in India’s north, chronicled over five years in Sundance-awarded documentary Writing With Fire by Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas. Not only are they members of India’s embattled media landscape, but they are also Dalit women, so-called «untouchables» deemed so impure they are excluded from the country’s hierarchical caste system, and a highly vulnerable group when it comes to the nation’s endemic levels of gendered violence. When they founded Khabar Lahariya nearly two decades ago, those around them widely expected it to fail. Not only has it survived, it has successfully pivoted to digital, despite some staff never having used a mobile phone prior, and their YouTube channel has clocked tens of millions of viewers.

Writing With Fire, a film by Sushmit Ghosh, Rintu Thomas
Writing With Fire, a film by Sushmit Ghosh, Rintu Thomas


We are given a window onto the daily lives both on the job and at home of three of Khabar Lahariya’s journalists, in order to understand the kind of risks and pushback they face in a profession dominated . . .

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Carmen Gray
Freelance film critic and regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
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