Anil Thakraney: Media ODed on the Gujarat riots

02 Mar,2012

By Anil Thakraney


The whole of this week the media has been going ballistic on the 10th anniversary of the Gujarat riots. Almost as if each media brand competed with another on who can paint a gorier picture. As a result, a whole lot of skeletons tumbled out of ‘secular’ India’s cupboard and many unhealed wounds got exposed all over again. We have to wonder if this carpet coverage of the riots was such a good idea after all.


I suppose the greatest human tragedy of all time must be the one that happened after the nation’s partition. A million people died and many more were displaced. But because there was no media madness at the time, that catastrophe has been pretty much wiped off from our collective memory. In fact, even the Bombay riots of 1992/93 don’t get much attention any more, again because there was no media madness at the time. This has allowed people to get on with their lives. As a generation changes, the Mumbai riots will also be a closed chapter.


But the Gujarat riots happened in full glare of the media, so there is plenty of pictorial and written matter to fall back on. And this is where I think our media needed to exercise restraint. Because while the intentions may have been noble, nothing good can come from re-exposing deep injuries.


So we re-lived the rapes, the burnings, the lootings, the killings… we were given a ball-by-ball replay and not just highlights, to use a cricketing metaphor. For the sake of the nation, I sincerely hope that the negative emotions didn’t get re-ignited all over again. All those affected have tried to pick up the pieces, and are attempting to re-build their lives. As far as the process of criminal justice goes, that’s already in the courts. Which is why I failed to understand the media’s desperation to re-live 2002.


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Bottom-line: The Indian media, particularly the news channels, learnt some hard lessons post the 26/11 goof ups, on how terror attacks need to be covered. It’s time some amount of introspection is also done on how anniversaries of riots and terror need to be remembered.




PS: Yes, not all stars appear on the screen. A touching and extraordinary idea from Diet Coke. This is one international commercial that can so easily be replicated for Bollywood. What are they waiting for?




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