The decade gone by seems to have been one for the Indian media. The 4th estate stood tall upholding the righteous and delivering social justice where our judiciary seemed to have faltered. Through injustice, undelivered promises, procrastinating judiciary, questioned articles of the penal code, ruling misogyny, the media held its head high. Justice as the masses would prefer was delivered through the media. Heard, accepted and acknowledged, loud and clear bellowing threw the print and the electronics.
It seemed the pen no longer was just mightier than the sword but also the meanest nuclear weapon ever made.
These have been exciting times to be working in the media. Not merely for the jobs at hand but also at wielding the power it brings along. The politicians hold political rallies addressing the media first (no not a press, just a rally) and then if time permits the regular people. The OB Vans outside the courts can make or break careers for lawyers. The cops are wary of any person wielding a camera lest they be caught snoozing on duty or taking a leak on public property. In fact on occasion I myself have managed to give the cops a slip, feigning the call of duty while jumping the traffic signal or using the cell while driving. There are friends who have never ever paid the parking attendant the measly 10 bucks. How dare he even ask, isn’t the ominous sticker good enough on the windscreen. It is actually spelt out in red P-R-E-S-S.
Indian media has definitely come of age. And it is time to rephrase the age old adage. ‘Heaven hath no fury like the media scorned’
The trigger to writing this blog was a campaign I recently was a part of; held in the satellite town of Noida. A city, proud to be regarded under the National Capital region of Delhi.
The campaign was against a bribe as sought by the registrar officials from a friend who wanted to get the adoption decree of his daughter registered. Upon refusal, he along with his aged father was actually assaulted in full public purview. On receiving his frantic call on 17th November, I dialed a few numbers, friends in the various media, to rush to the spot to help and give the necessary support my friend required.
Gallantly I also agreed to become the core team member of a group to carry forth a campaign against such appalling behavior by the government employees.
Sure enough my friend garnered support from leading activists and groups along with friends like me to march up to the registrar office and demand justice. On January the 15th some 50 odd individuals did march up to the designated site carrying banners, wearing arm bands and shouting slogans against corruption. It did, as expected, garner the attention of the police too. After about an hour or so of shouting and sloganeering a message was conveyed to the friends father by the police officers present there, that you all have made your point, now it would make sense to wrap up lest there be anti social elements trying to sabotage this rally and giving it an ugly shape where the police may be forced to take action. It seemed to be a reasonable request and I did agree we had made a point, garnered enough media attention and that there was no point pushing it further with women and children involved. After all we wanted to hold a peaceful protest. On conveying the message to my friend I was quite surprised by the answer. ‘Am on call with CNN IBN lets continue till the time they are here, they seem to have lost their way.’ I was a little confused with this answer and in hind sight quite disappointed too. Continuing with the protest meant keeping the sentiments alive by addressing all present and sure enough to keep them charged through instigating slogans were a must. Once the sloganeering was exhausted, the activists now seem to have an agenda to instigate the police. Sure enough as warned earlier, the police did start roughing up and rounding up people and the rest of the day was spent from one police station to the other, facing threatening arrests etc. Through this entire 'ordeal', bytes were being generously offered by the friend, his family and the activists on the brutality of the police and lack of civil behavior as ought to be expected towards women and children.
In no way am I defending the police and their actions, but my point is where does one draw the line? Gathering media attention at the expense of what? When we had the chance we could have easily avoided all that is being rattled off in the press now. In fact the sentiments reflect quite jovial to my disbelief, considering a lot more media attention could be drawn upon with the subsequent action of the police.
Have we as individuals lost sight of what we actually want? Or all that matters now is the 15 second byte on a god forsaken channel, which seems to absolve all!