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How market driven media takes away our ability to think

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Market-driven media

Hannah Arendt’s 1961 essay “The Crisis in Culture” suggested that a “market-driven media would lead to the displacement of culture by the dictates of entertainment.”

That 1961 essay is getting realised at present in India, at least. The whole landscape of Indian media looks like a criss-cross of open sewage lines full of shit bursting at every joint running from everywhere to everywhere.

Though there are some silver linings but they are lost in, what we technically call, a spiral of silence. In the presence of such dark clouds and such dirt-laden rains, what will a glimmer of that silver lining do when the general mass is enjoying the natural shower.

The picture is not very good to look at. May be, the apparent impression on the mind is pleasuresque but larger picture is painful.

The biggest brand (we all know who) which has surpassed the popularity of all the others is making a mockery of journalism, both print and online. The ‘vulgarity’ of content selection reaches its limit and surpasses that every month.

The word ‘vulgar’ does not amount to the content with vulgarity, sex and sensationalism but it goes beyond that. The selection of news itself is filthy.

Market-driven media: Vanishing line between news and entertainment

A whole generation has grown up reading a newspaper which doesn’t mind being vocal about ignoring the difference between entertainment and news. I vividly remember a quarter page advertisement (image below), in retaliation to The Hindu ad campaign, the newspaper brand went on to say that the baby of Aishwarya Rai is no less important than Vice-President of India.

TOI ad against The Hindu

This pity and shameful situation becomes apparent when our generation thinks the same way. But it’s not their fault. There is a big man sitting in a chamber deciding what to sell, and that sells. That sells because it is from a brand that is tonsuring a big mass by pleasing them.

The problem is: instead of enlightening and informing, media is busy giving pleasure.

The man at the helm is akin to the pied-piper of Hamelin and the readers, rather consumers, are the mice who are all jumping off the cliff because it sounds good. This man is very shrewd and it appears his ambition is to harm the country’s conscience by the slow poison of his marketing strategies.

The news site which gets hits at par with the New York Times has promptly dedicated a big space on the homepage to the entertainment section which can be classified to soft porn and yellow journalism in its prime.

Write provoking headers questioning the senses of individuals, “Is it possible?”, with a deep search engine optimised story to gather the searching mass, and you get the maximum hits.

Reader is equally delighted to see the bikini clad images, the so called ‘oops!’ moments of wardrobe malfunction, hottest girls going nude on magazine covers… on the mainstream media site.

Seldom one finds a good write-up from one of the columnists. Instead of having some thinkers and experts to do the editorials, there are celebrities! As if celebrities are the greatest thinkers on policies and public matters!

What can one imagine of this mass! God save this country from the brutal claws.

Their logic is simple: we give people what they want. The truth, however is the other way round. You are giving something which people should like because they don’t have a choice.

You attack the teenage mind with the semi-nude images in your paper and the website; you distribute paper free of cost in colleges and so they fall in the trap. You mould their brain before they mature and condition them according to your taste. Then you stoop lower and lower to sell and attract them.

And you succeed. Why? Because there is no one else which can fall so low. Then you justify that we give what they want.

As Mark Twain writes:

We are discreet sheep;
we wait to see how the drove is going,
and then go with the drove.

And it is you who decides how the drove should go!

Is it not your responsibility to shape the opinion in a better way and raise citizens who think on their own rather than looking to their left and right when asked to give their opinion on political crisis or even about what game Dhyan Chand is associated with!

Is it not your responsibility to forget about your staggering profit for a few months and engage the mass to the socio-political issues of nation?

Is it not your responsibility to promote good education to enhance the education system rather than printing two pages under your campaign to promote your brand in the garb of corporate social responsibility?

The sheepish mass has lost its potency as a whole and is dormant like the inert gases of Group Zero. They are highly receptive but unreactive. Unless they find a cause fashionable enough they don’t get into it.

The ‘fourth pillar’ is fashionable to hear but is hollow and, perhaps, non-existent. The few rods of the pillar which are trying to keep it standing are limited to a few readers.

Overall it’s a very sad situation for India and we need to throw a big hammer with our collective force in the face of this Goliath. This Goliath needs to fall and David again needs to win. We are the hands that should hold the hammer.

(The views expressed are author’s personal.)

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What Gives Husbands The Licence to Rape? Decoding Marital Rape in the Indian Legal Scenario

Can there be two different definitions of rape? Can there be a differentiation between the rape of a married woman and the rape of an unmarried woman?

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Marital rape
While most of the developed world has penalized marital rape, surprisingly it is yet to be categorized as an offence in India. Pixabay
  • Cases of sexual violence, including rape, fall within the larger realm of domestic violence
  • Marital rape is yet to be categorized as a criminal offence in India
  • According to the central government, criminalizing marital rape “may destabilize the institution of marriage”

New Delhi, September 2, 2017 : Baby works as a domestic help; she says she cannot recall her age when her parents married her off to a man who was much older to her; a man she barely knew. She didn’t anticipate her husband would demand to have intercourse on their wedding night. She was still young and not ready, but that didn’t stop him. Baby was raped by her husband on her wedding night. But marital rape means nothing to her.

Sunita irons clothes for a living. She says has been married for more years than she can remember. The duo has four kids together, but that doesn’t stop her husband from raising a hand or two on her, every once in a while. Every night, her husband would get drunk, hit her and forcefully demand to have sex, paying no heed to her resistance. Sunita has three daughters, and a son, and the husband still wants to have progenies. “I told my mother that this man has raped me multiple times. She protested, arguing that he is ‘your husband’ after all,” she said.

But did she never decide to approach the authorities?

To this, Sunita promptly replied, “I once had a sore eye after he (the husband) hit me with his shoe when I refused to have sex. I went to the local hospital and then the police. I narrated the entire scene; they were very considerate, offered me water and then asked me to go home and ‘adjust’.”

Sunita is unaware of a term called ‘marital rape’.

This is the reality of a huge part of the society in real India.

Like Baby and Sunita, women who suffer such indignities are often asked to “adjust” with perpetrators of violence because of a deep –embedded fear of what the society would say. This notion of an ‘ideal woman’ impedes women to object to illicit treatment meted out by their ‘better halves’.

The debate around the issue has become ripe once again with the Central Government stating that what “may appear to be marital rape” to a wife “may not appear so to others”. In an affidavit to the Delhi High Court, the central government took a stand against criminalizing marital rape saying that it “may destabilize the institution of marriage” and also become easy tool for harass the husbands and the in-laws.

Rape v/s Marital Rape

Rape is defined in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, but with an irregularity: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”

While rape is addressed as perforation without a woman’s accord in its main clause, the only remedy to forced intercourse provided to ‘married’ woman is specified under Section 498-A of the IPC and the civil provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestiic Violence Act.

Following the horrific 2012 Nirbhaya rape case that brought the entire world to a standstill, the Indian media has given paramount coverage to instances of rape across the country. But even after 5 years of the gut-wrenching incident, there seems no end to this crime.

ALSO READ The Hardships of Sexuality: Marital rape, violence and humiliation

Cases of sexual violence, including rape, fall within the larger realm of domestic violence. However, rape by husbands within holy matrimony continues to remain an obscure subject in India and the exact number of cases is hard to gauge.

According to a 2015 report by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) tracing the proximity of offenders to the victims of sexual violence, it was revealed that in 95 per cent of all rapes, the offenders were familiar to the survivors. These, presumably include acquaintances, friends, relatives and colleagues.

And what about rape committed by husbands?

These cases continue to be an under-reported crime in India. This can be attributed to two major reasons,

  • Because of the stigma associated with it
  • Because of the presence of a defunct justice system

Furthermore, more often than not, these cases go missing because of several additional (and unnecessary) barriers stemming from a combination of familial and/or social power structures, shame and dependency.

Marital Rape In India

While most of the developed world has penalized marital rape, surprisingly it is yet to be categorized as an offence in India.

A United Nations’ report titled ‘Why do some men use violence against women and how can we prevent it?’ published in 2013 disclosed that nearly a quarter of 10,000 men  in Asia-Pacific region, including India, admitted to have indulged in the rape of a female partner. The report traced their rationale to a deep-embedded belief that they are entitled to sex despite the consent of their partners.

The study also revealed that the majority of these instances were not reported and the perpetrators faced no legal consequences.

In 2014, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in association with International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) brought out a report titled ‘Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India’. Among other things, the report analyzed the average Indian male’s understanding and interpretation of the idea of ‘masculinity’ and how that molds their interactions with women.

Not surprisingly, the study revealed that a typical man in the Indian society associated the attributes ‘tough’, and ‘controlling’ with masculinity.

Segments of the present day Indian society continue to look at men as tough forces, who can (must) freely exercise their privilege to establish rule in personal relationships and above all, continue to control women.

Additionally, the study also revealed that 60 per cent of the Indian men disclosed the use of physical violence to establish authority.

In India, stiff patriarchal norms continue to tilt the gender balance firmly in the favor of men, as a result of which, women are forced to internalize male dominance in their lives.

Marital Rape in India : A Legal Perspective

Section 375 essentially distinguishes between two categories of women

  • Married women
  • Unmarried women

Much to the Indian society’s disappointment, the Indian legal system denies protection from rape to the married woman. This creates discrimination as the women belonging to one section are denied justice merely by virtue of being married.

But can there be two different definitions of rape? Can there be a differentiation between the rape of a married woman and the rape of an unmarried woman? Is it justified to discriminate a woman just because she is married to the man who has raped her?

The Debate Around Marital Rape In India

Despite the piquant situation, the issue raised furor when Minister of State for Home, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary told the Parliament that the question of criminalizing marital rape in India has no relevance “as marriage is treated as sacred here.”

Does marriage being a sacrament provide one with the legal right to rape a woman?

South Asia director at Human Rights Watch Meenakshi Ganguly had retaliated saying that it is particularly concerning when a government that claims to secure the safety of women inside and outside national territory shamelessly turn to justify a crime in the name of culture and tradition.

Group director of social and economic development at the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) Priya Nanda asserted in an interview with a leading portal that “the reason men don’t want to criminalize marital rape is because they don’t want to give a woman the power to say no.”

In 2013, a three-member commission headed by Justice J.S. Verma suggested remedial measures to combat sexual violence in India, following the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case. One of its recommendations was the criminalization of marital rape.

ALSO READ Reasons Why Marital Rape Should Be Recognised as a Criminal Offence

The recommendation was ignored by the government as a large amount of people questioned its efficiency saying if made a crime,

  • It might be misused by people
  • It will be difficult to prove
  • It might break up marriages

But, how fair is it to not have a law against marital rape, only because of the reason that it is ‘difficult to prove’?

In a broader understanding, it needs to be understood that the criminalization of marital rape must not be viewed as a step against men or the institution of matrimony, but as an attempt to demolish the patriarchal system that continues to clutch the Indian society.


 

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Decimation and Missing of Hindus in south Asia

The population of Hindus has declined at an exponential rate in about last 50 years.

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Hinduism in Australia
A ritual in Hinduism. Wikimedia

There was recently an article published at dailyo.in titled “The missing Hindus in South Asia and a conspiracy of silence” by Saswati Sarkar. She laments that Indian media is quick to cover all kinds of international events, be it Arab Spring or Gaza conflict or beautification of saints at the Vatican. But it is surprisingly silent to the genocide of Hindus at the global level and more closely in their vicinity,ie, neighboring countries. Seh says that there a ‘conspiracy of silence’ in our media regarding decimation and missing of Hindus in south Asia region.

According to Sarkar, our neighbors such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, and Myanmar have done a commendable job in eradicating the very essence of Hinduism in their respective countries. She adds that starting off with the scandalous episodes we have Pakistan on our list at the top. When it comes to India, Pakistan is the mother of all conspiracies.

Pakistan: A closer look

The population of Hindus has declined at an exponential rate in about last 50 years. As mentioned by Saswati Sarkar“ In 1947, Hindus constituted about 15 percent of the population of West Pakistan (current Pakistan); by 1998, it is about 1.6 percent “ Thanks to all the social and legal discrimination which exists there. Some of them are as follows

  • Only Muslims are allowed to stand for presidential/prime ministerial candidate.
  • Targeting Hindus via court harsh punishments such as death sentences through Blasphemy laws.
  • Not giving any family-related laws to non-Muslims.
  • Promoting hatred against minorities in through academics (via schools and Madrasas).
  • Forcing women and girls to change religions.
  • Even temples have not been spared .Stone idols were smashed off. One of the most sacred places such as Hinglaj Mata temple was also targeted. As a result, many Hindus are now taking refuge abroad with no hope left behind.

Bangladesh: A closer look

Coming off to the next episode we focus towards Bangladesh. Continuing the legacy of killing Hindus it has performed indeed well.

  • Simply in the name of Hindu women are raped here.
  • Girls are sold.
  • People have been forced to leave the nation (especially Bengali’s Hindus).
  • Spiritual festivals such as Durga Puja are targeted and people are decimated.
  • Enemies’ this is the term used there to refer Hindus community.

Bhutan and Malaysia: A closer look

Coming next on the list we infer countries are Bhutan and Malaysia .They make look small but they are no behind.

  • Nearly 100,000 Hindus have been expelled alone from Bhutan.
    Policies such as Bhumiputra have affected a major chunk of Hindus in Malaysia.

Traditions in Hindus community Wikimedia Commons
Traditions in Hindus community, Wikimedia Commons

Hats off to our government and Media for playing a major part in adding to their misery. Right under their nose all these decimations were taking place and they remained as mute spectators. We didn’t even bother to give help to the officially declared Refugees. Neither did we care about raising these issues in United Nations. Thanks to our present Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and some leaders such as Shivraj Singh Chauhan who showed special concern towards these needy people.

  • Fast track process of Indian citizenship.
  • Private jobs will now be offered to these refugees.
  • Unlike us (home to the largest democracy) leaders from the US such as Tulsi Gabbard and Aaron Schock have stepped up in eradicating these atrocities on minorities.
  • Protests have been organised in Washington DC for a help of those people in the name of humanity.

Sarkar laments that it is a matter of shame for us for turning a blind eye to those brothers and sisters of ours. Even on our own soil Kashmiris Pandits have been killed in large figures and were forced to eat beef.

Related article : Plight of Kashmiri Pandits

Role of media

Sarkar then takes in the Media. Uncovering our media, they were expected to do something regarding all these horror acts. Some of which are mentioned as follows-

  • Leaders such as Zafar Ali Khan put forward his notion that no Sikhs shall live in Pakistan.
    • Adding to the fact 7 million Sikhs and Hindus were eradicated from Pakistan.
    • Nearly 10,000 to 20,000 were killed in Sheikhpura district and 7000 Hindus were killed in Rawalpindi district.

Distribution of Hindus in Pakistan, Wikimedia Commons
Distribution of Hindus in Pakistan, Wikimedia Commons

  • Tortures were commonly practised such as-
    • Cutting off Nipples
    • Ripping of wombs of pregnant women and destroying their foetus.
    • Inserting of rods in private parts of women.
  • Children were even burnt alive and were often thrown to swords.

India Today did cover the misery of Rinkle Kumari in 2012. It did receive some coverage. Such is the irony that small media groups and sites with much fewer resources compared to rich Indian media have collected and published more facts. And our own media is standing numbly in front of them with nothing in their hand. When it came to a killing of a Muslim in Pune or be it Gujarat riots coverage or any martial persecution or be it Slapping of the civil servant by any political leader or the conversation of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism. These are well covered and are projected by our media but when it comes to the killing of Hindus by a Muslim or raping of a girl by a Muslim or be it brutal torturing of Lt Col Purohit or burning of Hindus homes by Muslims mobs or Torturing of national level Indian shooter Tara Sahedo our media becomes silent. In Tripura NLFT (National Liberation Front of Tripura) has banned Hindu festivals and has used rape as a tool to force Hindus to listen to their atrocities.

As mentioned by the writer herself “It is telling that my references for the terror allegedly fomented by the church in India’s North East have been BBC, and not Indian media reports.” even I got a major help by non-Indian media sources rather than our own media giants. It is therefore high time that our government along with our media should introspect so that this brutal killing of minorities (mainly Hindus) be stopped in regions such as South Asia.

Prepared by Pritam

Pritam is a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata. A simple person who tries to innovate and improvise himself. Twitter handle @pritam_gogreen

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Chennai floods: Is national media ‘national’?

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Image courtesy: Indian Army

Incessant rains for the past 11 days in Tamil Nadu have left behind nothing but wrack and ruin, especially in the capital city Chennai. It is being termed as the worst rains in the southern state in nearly 100 years, killing as many as 188 people in rain-related incidents.

Dorms, schools, hospitals and airports are flooded and water is neck-deep in low-lying parts of Chennai to the extent that Army’s assistance was sought to rescue the marooned people and deal with the unprecedented natural disaster.

In their hour of tragedy, Chennaiites have come out in large numbers to help the people in need by opening the doors of their homes, malls and offices to strangers and offering them food, shelter and even mobile recharges.

However, the Indian media cuts a sorry figure here by virtue of their lack of action in the crisis.

The apathy of India’s national media has come to the fore, for until this day none of our so-called ‘national news channels’ found the disaster in the state worth covering and reporting.

The people in Tamil Nadu are outraged and furious over the Indian media largely based in Delhi and Mumbai for their apparent callousness and lack of concern towards the tragedy of fellow Indians.

ALSO READ: चेन्नई की बाढ़: ख़बरदार, मीडिया जाग रहा है

A resident of Chennai penned an open letter to ‘National News Channels’, excoriating them for conspicuously ignoring the disaster in Tamil Nadu and instead focusing on intolerance debate, Sheena Bora murder case and other issues which could be relevant but not as important as the floods in Chennai that have claimed so many lives.

“I have seen several times in the past when toll-free numbers are set, relief materials collected by each of your channels etc but cannot see the word Chennai floods even in the breaking news section which in any case is breaking a lot of news which are irrelevant. It’s perfectly fine if you don’t cover this news but for heaven sake don’t call yourselves national news channel by any means,” Sujith Kumar posted on Facebook.

The point worth chewing over here is whether or not the events taking place outside the borders of New Delhi deserve as much attention by the media. If it’s not the case, the Delhi-based 24/7 channels should stop calling themselves ‘national news channels’ as they are more into misleading the masses, instead of highlighting the issues faced by the people of the remotest parts of the country.

A mere look at the political map of the country makes it clear that Kashmir is as much a part of India as Delhi is and therefore, the floods in Assam should get as much reportage as floods in Mumbai.

Contrast this with the disastrous, unflagging coverage of Nepal earthquake by the Indian media. The reporters belonging to reputed media houses were literally beseeched by the natives to leave them alone and go back to India considering their “insensitive” coverage of the crisis. #IndianMediaGoHome was the hashtag that trended on Twitter for a couple of days.

My mind also dwells on the media’s coverage of disastrous floods in Kashmir that claimed so many innocent lives, leaving behind wreck and ruin in 2014. The reporters invited the charge of being ‘embedded journalists’ by the locals for “trying too hard” to portray Indian Army personnel as heroes instead of focusing on the plight on the people marooned in the flooded parts of the Himalayan state.

And when there were floods in Assam earlier this year, none of the news channels reported on the tragedy that left hundreds of people dead and lakhs stranded; the sheer scale of the natural disaster deserved more than the lip service. It is as though the North East and southern states of India do not exist for the ‘national’ media based in Delhi and Mumbai.

The big question here is this: if our national news channels, both English and Hindi, can give so much airtime to the earthquake in a neighboring country, namely Nepal, then what stops them from giving due attention to the plight of their fellow Indians in North East and south India.

I feel ashamed to write this being a part of the industry, but let the Truth be spoken. We have totally got our priorities wrong here.

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