Media as mediator

IN Regional Media | 22/12/2004
Media as mediator    



The Daily Pudhari in Southern Maharashtra intervened to bring farmers and sugar cane owners to the negotiating table… 


Prabhakar Kulkarni


While newspapers reflect discontent caused by controversial issues, they can also play vital role in mediating between rival forces ,so as to remove both the discontent and controversy. Instead of mere focusing on two opposing views, agitations and counter agitations, some via media is almost always needed for social peace and law and order. The rural discontent caused by agitating cane growers for the demand of fair price for their sugarcane, and opposition by sugar factories with an excuse that they are practically unable to pay what farmers demand,  recently almost created  a law and order problem in the sugar belt. But Daily Pudhari, a highly circulated newspaper in  Southern Maharashtra intervened, brought the two constituents on one table and succeeded in sorting out the dispute by an amicable settlement.


The farmers’ demand for sugarcane price of Rs.1500 per ton and Rs.1200 first as advance was voiced by Raju Shetty, recently elected MLA by defeating three established sugar barons in Shirol constituency in the Kolhapur  district. As he consolidated  farmers’ forces in various factory areas in this region, the demand was presented by way of  rallies and demonstrations .Mr.Shetty in his democratic role as the farmers’ messiah, contacted sugar barons and put forth the demand, with the result that all sugar factories announced minimum Rupees 1000/- as advance payment. This is peculiar in so far as previously most of the factories were offering only Rs.600 to 800 as advance payment. Though the MLA’s pressure  increased the price limit, the main demand of Rs.1200 as advance was resisted by most of the managements.


Consequently cane farmers started their agitation.  This agitation created a crisis as most of the sugar co-operatives have direct or indirect links with the ruling Congress and NCP government in the state .The confrontation would have turned serious if the state would have backed the factory managements at the cost of agitating farmers .Some via media was therefore needed.


The Daily Pudhari’s editor Pratapsinh Jadhav invited both Mr.Shetty and chiefs of all sugar co-operatives in his office and vital discussion was held. Factory managements have their genuine difficulties though they principally approved the farmers’ demand for a fair price for their cane. Mr.Shetty vehemently argued that farmers have been demanding fair price for the last several years but the managements have so far denied it to them. After heated arguments Mr.Jadhav suggested that Mr.Shetty should approve the affordable price of Rs.1000 as advance and Rs.1200 as final payment for a ton of sugarcane.


This settlement was approved by both sides and it was officially confirmed before the Kolhapur collector in presence of both sides and the editor Mr. Jadhav. Although the ultimate solution regarding the price structure and farmers’ other demands is not yet finalized, the confrontation is over and the current crushing season would be peaceful. This is the achievement of the initiative and negotiations by a newspaper. 

Prabhakar Kulkarni is a Kohlapur-based journalist. Contact:

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