Hard Knocks: How the Indian media doesn’t champion the cause of ‘lesser’ children

14 Nov,2011

By Anil Thakraney


Just as it happened with crimes against Priyadarshini Matoo and Jessica Lal, our news channels have been busy doing shows on the dead young men from Mumbai, Keenan and Reuben. Just in case you are a Martian, the two were killed by some drunken elements when they protested against sexual harassment of the girls accompanying them. And yes, it’s nice that the media stands up for such people and puts pressure on the system for swift deliverance of justice. So, good show.

However, what I don’t like about what’s happening is that the Indian media only stands up for the middle class, for ‘people like us’. Because crimes in the metro towns attract more attention, and I daresay, they also excite the advertisers. Which perhaps explains all the campaigns for justice. But the media must also stand up for crimes committed against the have-nots from interior India and run similar campaigns for justice on their behalf, even if this doesn’t interest the advertisers too much. Not just because residents of rural areas are Indians (lest we’ve forgotten), but because they are human beings too and their lives are just as precious.

To illustrate this apathy with an example, let’s take the case of the heinous crime that was committed in the ‘unhappening’ Khairlanji village of Maharashtra some years ago. Priyanka Bhotmange was attacked by twelve men. They strapped her to a bullock cart as one would a disobedient animal, and dragged her out to the village chaupal. Then, they took turns to rape her, following which they completely stripped her and paraded their ‘trophy’. This was followed by beating her naked body with bicycle chains and publicly gang raping her all over again… and this went on till the mutilated Priyanka stopped breathing. However, not satisfied, the goons continued. The teenage corpse was raped yet again. On realizing the dead body was no longer rape-worthy, the men shoved iron rods into her blood clotted genitals and used pickaxes to disfigure her face.

[youtube width=”400″ height=”250″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnGI76__sSA&feature=youtube_gdata_player[/youtube]

Did the news channel run aggressive campaigns on her behalf? Were candle light marches held in her memory? Did the media keep the pressure going to get justice for her? The answer to these questions is a sad ‘NO’. Aside from the odd, reluctant story, Priyanka was quickly forgotten. And this, quite obviously, is unfair.

So yes, I am proud that the media fights for the middle class urban victims of crimes. But I would be happier if this passion is also on display for the children of the lesser god.




PS: Lilting tributes continue to pour in for Steve Jobs. Here’s a lovely one from Jonathan Ive, the Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple Inc. No, we can’t have enough of Jobs, keep them coming! What a man!

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