Ideas, principles and ideology makes a great breakfast or cocktail snacks but serve poor for dinner. To quote from a Hollywood movie Transformer : ‘the problem with every cause is that in the end cause betrays you.’ Here we are at the crossroads where multiple causes have been betrayed. A mob of people lynched an alleged rapist in Dimapur in North East India. Police involvement is suspected. But that is not the subject. Free speech of journalist in an emotive issue is the subject.
Today is Women’s Day. Congratulations to all. At the same time let us find time to celebrate ‘Human Day’ sometime and try to be completely human on that day.
Many things have happened recently.
My favourite actor or should I say the actor who played my favourite character Mr. Spock (in Star trek) died. A renowned journalist Vinod Mehta died today. He was known for his preciseness and thoroughness. And another journalist John Elliot was not thorough in his opinion. Perhaps he should shift from Golf Links to more Practical locality to understand local people.
Candle marches and Protests:
Over two years ago New Delhi saw human sea on streets. For days and nights, youth of the Delhi were protesting the rape and torture of young lady who was struggling for her life. There is no other example of massiveness of a non-political public protest, at least in India and may be anywhere in the world. Every young person I knew was involved physically on one day or other. When the victim died, Prime Minister of the country attended the funeral which took place in a hush hush manner so as to avoid the crowd of protestors.
India is a young country and youth below the age of 35 constitute 65% of population. What number would it translate? The population of India is 1.3 Billion. Population of Delhi is about 13 million. That December no politician spoke a second language. All denounced the rape in unison. Yes there are few bigots here who often dismiss it as non issue but that happened later on.
One of the reasons was real fear. Fear of number. This is something a journalist from the west always has difficulty in understanding. When count in west goes to manageable thousands, here it rises to impossible millions.
Ban on BBC documentary on Nirbhaya
A documentary has been made on rapes in India which obviously points out to male supremacists who speak about the provocation to rape as if it is legally possible and permissible. Nirbhaya which means fearless, is the name given to the victim of rape. The documentary contains statements of the convict and his lawyers which are not only inhuman but also reflect them as male supremacists. Telecasting this portion of documentary has been injuncted by courts. There are two possible grounds: 1. The appeal of convict is pending before Supreme Court. 2. Maintenance of public order.
While press statements may not reflect it but second reason seems to be the driving force for Government to ban it knowing that it’s ban can not be world wide but shall be enforced in India only.
Journalism v. Free speech:
The traditional journalism used to news reporting but that role is reduced to only small part of whole operation. Journalists now set agenda for debate in society. They select views of people and invite debate. Often they start with a debate and thus set it in motion. This documentary is not about news reporting but to set an agenda about debate on the subject. I have not seen the documentary. To add sincerity the journalist concerned has shared the fact that she was also a victim of rape. But I wonder what agenda she is trying to set? I am no woman but I do not understand as to how there can be any view of a rapist convicted of violent rape to justify it. For murder there can be defence of provocation. But in case of rape what defence she was looking?
The contents of interview reveal that convict is a remorseless stupid bigot. He claimed that a girl walking in the street is a provocation! Pathetic talk. What agenda will it set for society to debate? That he should have been lynched by the same mob which was protesting earlier and demanding trial?
That people who were protesting at India Gate should now burn their candles at Tihar Jail where convict is presently lodged?
When a journalist claims for free speech, it must have a standard higher than a rustic man on the street. An attempt to encash the emotive issue with TRP’s without actually doing nothing more than to flare up emotions must be discouraged. Every one already knows through news as to what were the views of begot but the ban prevented it from translating it into an emotive issue by playing it 24/7 on news channel and converting emotion into anger which may burst into violence.
This is called maintenance of public order. A feature in Constitution of India which permits restriction on free speech. Something which Supreme Court of USA had to invent as police power of the State.