Television for tribals by tribals

Jharkhand People’s Party chief claims his satellite channel is not for politics
Ranchi, May 8 : DMK boss M. Karunanidhi launched one as a vehicle of his political ideologies. AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa followed suit to polish up her public persona. And, now, the southern surf has reached the east with Surya Singh Besra, the president of Jharkhand People’s Party, planning a news and entertainment channel.
But unlike his political predecessors, Besra’s channel, aptly christened JOHAR TV, will greet the tribal audience with an entire gamut of programmes, including news and family soaps. He also claims he won’t use it as a political tool.
“We have applied for a licence and are planning to launch on June 30,” Besra told The Telegraph. He said news and other programmes would be aired in Santhali, Mundari, Kurukh, Nagpuri, Kurmali and Ho.
Being touted as the first entertainment television for tribals, the multilingual satellite channel will also air programmes in Hindi in parts of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Johar though a tribal greeting term, JOHAR TV is also the abbreviated form of Jollywood, originated, home network, art & culture, regional television. Besra, who is its managing director, said the channel would be headquartered in Delhi, with working offices in Lucknow and Jamshedpur.
Among those sounded out to be in the board of directors were tribal ideologue Ram Dayal Munda, former assistant director of Anthropological Survey of India Pashupati Nath Mahto, Lucknow Time TV director Rajesh Kumar Sidhartha and television personality Sashi Shekhar Verma.
The Jharkhand People’s Party leader said that the basic purpose was to use media to save the culture of an indigenous society. “Our aim is to tell the world why Jharkhand was born in the first place,” Surya Singh Besra, who played an important role in the Jharkhand movement in the late Eighties and early Nineties, said.
In 1991, he had resigned from the then Bihar legislative Assembly to take forward the movement for a separate state of Jharkhand.
The leader, who had founded the All Jharkhand Students’ Union (Ajsu) in 1986, said that funds would not be a problem for his new venture. “There are people in Lucknow and Delhi who have shown interest. We will hold a meeting on May 13,” he said.
Besra is certain that there would be no dearth of skilled manpower either. “There are so many qualified tribal boys and girls. Some are freshers while some associated with other organisations. They can run the show with ease.”
On a politician’s venture into the entertainment sector, he said it was nothing new. The Congress entered the satellite channel business with Jai Hind TV in Malayalam. It was launched to counter the CPM-affiliated Kairali TV. In Tamil Nadu, political parties have long owned major channels, like the DMK’s Sun TV, Jayalalithaa’s Jaya TV and PMK’s Makkal TV.
“However, JOHAR TV will not be used as a political tool. It will be more on the lines of regional channels such as Mahua TV and Hamar TV, which promote the Bhojpuri language and culture,” he said.