So much safer to discuss the beauty of Jaipur’s carpets…

26 Jul,2022



By Ranjona Banerji


Ranjona BanerjiA naked film star, Ranveer Singh, took over the news cycle and the internet this past week.

We have had news about how many famous Indian men have posed nude in the past. On the male physique and its beauty. On the carpet that Singh posed on. On Jaipur rugs themselves and what they are made of.

All this provided a distraction from the wilful naked destruction of India’s environment and wildlife in some parts of India and the destruction of India’s infrastructure by the monsoon.

In Uttarakhand and in Maharashtra, trees are being cut down. In variance with court rulings and common sense.

The bigger noise has been on social media than on the internet itself. Women claim to have been manhandled and harassed by the police in Helang and in Dehradun in Uttarakhand, for trying to protect trees using Chipko movement tactics.

I found one reference to Helang in an online search:

And one reference to Dehradun’s Sahastradhara episode:

This is how news is suppressed. It is limited to local editions. And it is not picked up by other agencies and media outlets.

And environmental news as we have discussed before gets maximum short shrift.

The Aarey controversy has got more traction, because Mumbai is a big city and because of the change in policy after the Maharashtra government was brought down and a BJP-led Shiv Sena breakaway party took charge. The first act was to allow the destruction of forest in the Aarey area for a Metro car shed.

You tell me, how many prime-time TV screaming matches have you seen on ecological damage from the destruction of natural resources?

Monsoon fury and damage got a little more space. A new expressway at Bundelkhand was inaugurated with great fanfare by the Prime Minister and the state’s Chief Minister. Thus, when you check the context and the allocation of responsibility, please admire how mild the media admonition is.

Contrast this with the rage of the TV reporter directed at a postman who came to make a delivery at the building which starlet Rhea Chakraborty lived in.

The criticism of this collapse, such as it is, comes from the Samajwadi Party. The explanation comes from some officials. No questions asked of the great claims made during the massive inauguration. Well, obviously!

This story is just bumpf and some Twitter comments.

Now let’s look at another kind of social destruction: false accusations of “love jihad” with apparent BJP connections.

Not much some up on internet searches.

There’s the Wire:

And there’s an older story from The Times of India:

How much screaming in the evening TV programmes, accusing the ruling party of, well, anything at all?

Why nothing about the ongoing controversy about Union minister Smriti Irani and her daughter’s restaurant and bar?

What’s the point? Most of the “news” is about Irani’s bravery, legal notices to Congress and so on. Very little about the actual problem. And even less about the daughter’s connection to this restaurant and bar in Goa.

Welcome to the courage of the Indian media.

Of course, there is a strong reason why we’re so lacking in courage.

It is incidents like this:

Freelance journalist Ravi Nair who writes about financial improprieties and dealings gets slapped with a criminal defamation suit for writing about the Adani Group.

So much safer to discuss the beauty of Jaipur’s carpets.


Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She writes on MxMIndia on Tuesdays and Fridays. Her views here are personal.

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