Ranjona Banerji: Disappointing Prasoon Joshi

08 Jan,2013

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Do people invite Shaina NC to their shows only to take issue with her or ignore her or humiliate her? I am no fan of this member of the Bharatiya Janata Party but I cannot understand why she is invited as a guest to studio discussions only for her views to be pooh-poohed. It is true that her views are usually extremely silly – in which case, why ask her to share them unless you want to expose her? There are many other foolish people in all parties who regularly express their equally daft views without being treated with similar contempt.

 

On Arnab Goswami’s show last week, Shaina NC tried the impossible task of trying to defend RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s India versus Bharat remarks regarding rape. There were other Sangh Parivar worthies like Subramaniam Swamy and GVL Narasimha Rao on the show who also did their bit but Shaina NC got the most flak. There were times when she looked on the verge of tears. On the Best of the Big Fight on NDTV, Shaina NC got the same treatment from Vikram Chandra and other guests like Madhu Kishwar for her somewhat confused remarks about how India was a fully spiritual nation (as in no sex please). Please note that this was seen as a “best” bit.

 

The other question of course is: why does Shaina NC want to get treated like this? There is a theory is that she is the most personable face that the BJP has, which is why she is sent out to defend the cause. There is another sexist theory that she has a pleasant face. And a somewhat nasty theory is that she is one of the more stylish members of the BJP, especially since she belongs to India and not Bharat (by Mohan Bhagwat’s definitions, not mine). Plus there’s a cynical theory that her father Nana Chudasama was hedging his bets by making one daughter join the BJP. Whatever the reason, it is unfortunate that she is such a sucker for punishment.

 

I can safely say this much: Shaina NC is not the sort of person edit pages of newspapers would or should invite to write opinion pieces.

 

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Prasoon Joshi

Have to say that I was most disappointed with Prasoon Joshi’s appearance on CNBC’s Storyboard show with Anuradha Sengupta. For someone who has used his advertising experience to craft himself as a sort of Renaissance man, one would have expected some better responses on a show about how the media can become more gender sensitive. There was Joshi at protest venues after the Delhi gangrape reading out emotional and meaningful poems. And there he was on CNBC saying well, advertisers are marketers after all and we just try to sell products.

 

The “too bad if you don’t like it” attitude was attempted to be ameliorated by some anodyne remarks about how gender sensitivity as important but it was mere tokenism at best. Unfortunately, there was no Arnab Goswami to call him out. However, the hypocrisy was exposed one way or another.

 

I suppose the problem comes from wearing too many hats and sometimes you forget when you’re a sensitive poet and when you’re a hard-hearted purveyor of rubbish.

 

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The Indian media has stuck to the rape story and the treatment of women in India for over three weeks now, showing incredible tenacity. India TV, often not the most credible but always entertaining, had a brilliant sting operation last week which exposed how women in India are harassed for the simple crime of just standing by the road.
The media has of course been helped by sheer idiocy of remarks spewed forth by politicians and so-called spiritual and societal leaders.

 

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A pat on the back to the media for sticking to the law and not revealing the rape victim’s name, even though the father has apparently given it to the UK Mirror. The Hindu had a front page note from editor Siddharth Vardarajan explaining just how the law worked as far as India is concerned

 

The news agency ANI has apparently taken action against a stringer for taking remarks by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat about a woman’s place being in the kitchen out of context. Bhagwat was it seems explaining how marriage worked in the western system unlike in India where it is a spiritual union. Sadly, a woman’s place remains in the kitchen here as well, judging from how our worthies feel about women in public places!

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She is also Contributing Editor, MxMIndia. The views here are his own

 

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