Ram Temple frenzy, Sabrimala, #MeToo and other unHappy developments this Diwali

06 Nov,2018

 

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Happy Diwali. The newspapers are full of one million front pages (but were there more for Dasera, one wonders). Online shopping sites are begging us on television and in newspapers to buy TVs, washing machines and refrigerators and furniture. As far as paper is concerned, news has taken a back seat and does one feel sorry for the papers which actually supply news because they have no ads or happy that someone is bothering at least?

Because look at where we are on this Happy Diwali. The Reserve Bank of India, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Chief Election Commissioner are all involved in merry battles with each other and the Government of India. The Supreme Court is trying to play monitor. The Rafale deal, high profile loan defaulters and allegations of corruption against politicians, industrialists and investigating officers are flying fast and thick. A good time on the whole to buy a refrigerator. No wonder the Prime Minister of India is visiting the Kedarnath for Diwali. So would I have, if I were him. Divine intervention might be the only recourse.

But then, there’s that other thing. The new run by the Sangh Parivar to build that Ram Temple in Ayodhya. The Supreme Court of India did not oblige with a hearing before assembly elections in three BJP run states. As expected, several news channels are doing all they can to help the BJP in this endeavour as much as they can. High voltage “discussions” between several fundamentalists, priests, godmen and gurus interspersed with screaming anchors and various other Hindutva organisations which have recently sprung up. If you want to push a divisive agenda in India, just request a few of these “news” channels – Zee News, News18, NewsX and of course Times Now and Republic TV and you don’t even have to bother with those front page ads in newspapers.

Winter is setting in here in the foothills of the Himalayas, but perhaps I do need to buy a refrigerator to cool down after watching the travesty that passes for television news.

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The #MeToo movement has not lost steam yet, thankfully. Horror stories have emerged from All India Radio. Of harassment and then of the women who complain losing their jobs. If any action was taken against those accused of sexual harassment and assault, it was a “transfer”. Because predators are somehow affected only geography?

https://www.firstpost.com/india/metoo-women-allege-sexual-harassment-at-all-india-radios-dharamshala-obra-kurukshetra-stations-5495121.html

The Network of Women in Media has written a strong note protesting against the Sabarimala Karma Samiti requesting the media not to send female journalists of particular ages to cover the temple. The statement reads: We believe the Samithi’s stand amounts to depriving women journalists of their right to respond to the call of professional duty and responsibility. It also goes against the freedom of expression and right to information that are fundamental rights to which all citizens are entitled.  The Samithi and others who oppose the Supreme Court’s verdict are welcome to make use of the legal options available to them to pursue their goals.  They have no right to interfere with the media and prevent journalists who happen to be women from doing their jobs.  Worse, in effect, it amounts to an open threat from the Samithi to women journalists.

We believe editors must not allow veiled threats from various organisations to determine how the media goes about its duty to report on events and processes about which citizens have a right to know.

NWMI requests all media houses to refuse to entertain such misogyny and to deploy the best journalist for the job, not limiting the choice to men.

We also demand the state and the police should give sufficient protection to every reporter, of all gender identities.”

The full statement can be read here: http://www.nwmindia.org/component/k2/nwmi-firmly-rejects-interference-by-religious-bodies-in-work-assignment-of-women-journalists

 

The Times of India has reported on the NWMI statement here:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/unacceptable-interference-says-nwmi-after-sabarimala-samithi-asks-media-to-not-depute-women/articleshow/66515106.cms?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=TOIIndiaNews

 

And Firstpost here:

https://www.firstpost.com/india/as-sabarimala-reopens-doors-women-journalists-who-were-harassed-for-reporting-from-the-scene-speak-out-5507881.html

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A must read here from Inderjit Badhwar on what journalism today could be, if it paid a little attention to the past. If only!

https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/that-eighties-scoop-show-indian-journalism-needs-a-shot-of-the-past/300826?fbclid=IwAR1-fA7pu_spMPU2VrEedHDR4qa7iWdaATE2LYMXk67V_CPD_uZCn9DsKXk

 

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And on that note, Happy Diwali once again. Stay safe, breathe easily, eat well and have whatever fun you can!

 

 

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