Sense & (In) Sensibility
Every morning as I sit down with my cup of tea and the daily newspaper, the headlines that most often stare back at me go something like “Ash-Abhi tie the knot today”, “Richard Gere kisses Shilpa Shetty”, “Boy falls into pit – Rescue operations underway”. Meanwhile, on page 6, in microscopic print is a small article about a woman who has been brutally gang raped and paraded naked throughout her village in Maharashtra. The Abhiwarya wedding manages to sustain national attention for an entire week while the rape case is conveniently forgotten in a day.
This brings us to one of the pressing problems facing media today. Sensationalism. Tune into any of the twenty four hour news channels and all you get to see is the scene at Jalsa or Jhanvi Kapoor declaring to all and sundry that Abhishek Bachhan is her lover. In other news we have repeated telecast of the infamous Richard Gere – Shilpa Shetty kiss, which seems to have instigated protests from every corner of the country. If not that, we have live coverage of the young boy who has had the misfortune of falling into a drainage pit. The rescue operations are a reality show in themselves and last for hours at a stretch.
Media, today, also seems to have a new-found obsession with the F word – Food, Fashion and Films. Film critics haven’t had it better with each channel having a panel of it’s own to autopsy every new release. Fashion weeks are covered with great gusto and wardrobe malfunctions can transform you from a non-entity into a celebrity – as has been seen in the case of Carol Gracias. And much to the epicurean’s delight, news channels have daily programmes where famous chefs cook up exotic gastronomic delights.
The fourth estate has as its primary duty, the delivery of an impartial outlook on the current news. However, what is happening is quite to the contrary. Not only is the media being biased in its coverage, it is also sidelining important news while paying undue attention to the frivolous.
The police too seem to act hand in glove with the media. Little wonder that the security measures for the Bachhan wedding were close to Z class and the entire Mumbai police force was engaged in a hunt for the missing cell phone belonging to famous politician Vinod Khanna’s son. Meanwhile the same police refused to register complaints from rape victims and have blissfully ignored the complaints of the parents of the children who went missing in the Nithari case. Had the Noida police paid even a little heed to the laments of the poor parents, many innocent lives could have been saved.
This brings us to another lacuna in our society. Ours is a society where money speaks and when it speaks there are no deaf ears. Every tympanum is soundly tuned in and even the slightest whisper of a rustle of notes is picked up by many. No wonder the rich manage to so easily escape the clutches of the law. No wonder that the scales of justice are heavily tilted in favor of the wealthy. No wonder that justice is blind – blind to the heinous crimes that these people perpetrate on the not so fortunate. And the media too seems to turn a blind eye to all these injustices.
It was only a decade after the Jessica Lal killing that Manu Sharma was sentenced for life. It has been more than 23 years since the Bhopal gas Tragedy but the victims are still running around in bureaucratic labyrinths for the relief promised to them. It has been a few months since the Nithari killings came to light but the guilty haven’t yet been punished. Justice delayed is justice denied. And millions of Indians have been denied their birthright.
India might have gained independence in 1947, but its citizens are still under oppression – oppression by the politicians, and by the rich and the powerful. Most people have resigned themselves to their fates and have given up the will to fight. Their spirit has been sucked out of them and they are merely monotonous robots going about their lives mechanically. In the few cases that people have raised their voices against the injustice meted out to them, they have been swiftly silenced. The murders of the engineers who threw light on the Golden Quadrilateral Scam and the petrol bunk scam are known to each of us. Ours is a democracy only in title. In truth, we live in a dictatorial nation where the politicians have an army of their own to dispense justice.
It is not just the right to justice that we have been denied, but even the right to freedom of expression. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Shiv Sena think not twice before protesting on silly issues like Valentine’s Day and Rakhi Sawanth’s lack of clothes while turning a blind eye to the many other gargantuan problems that our society faces.
Murderers and terrorists are roaming free on the roads and are even being elected to the Parliament whereas innocent artists are jailed for being bold in their artistic expressions. Apathy reigns. Man has become indifferent and cynical. The good old days of camaraderie remain a thing of the past. Technology seems to have boomed in leaps and bounds but it has done little to improve the standard of living of the masses. Skyscrapers dot the skyline of cities but close by, the slums proliferate in numbers. Life is a mere existence for millions and a burden for many others. But it is not these millions that are newsworthy. It is only the champagne sporting socialites in Page 3 that are worthy of newsprint and reel.
What has become of conscience? Is there any reason to hope for a better tomorrow? Will there be justice ever? Questions are aplenty but who will answer them. The current state of affairs might even make an atheist find truth in the Hindu myth of the Kaliyuga. Is there a Kalki who will come and deliver justice? Or is the media, the Kalki that has taken the wrong path and is exacerbating the situation instead of redressing it. It is high time the media takes a reality check and starts performing its duties as it is supposed to.
p.s. this is the essay that got me through to iijnm
p.p.s. special thanks to all who read through the essay. and for all their valuable advise..lift your collar, twirl your moustache, pat your back, give urself a hug...
p.p.p.s. i always confuse between advice and advise