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No longer mightier than the sword

The brutal incident that happened to the 23 year old paramedical student and her friend shocked the entire nation called India. For a few days from Sunday to Wednesday the Indian media clamored about the need for stringent laws to ensure safety for women and speed up the justice process for the victim! But it fizzled out in a few days.

Yesterday, December, 20, 2012 another memorable day in Indian politics, the Gujarat Chief Minister Mr. Narendra Modi emerged victorious once again making a hat-trick to his ideological degree. Surely this opens door for him to pin his hopes to be the next Prime Minister of India. We understand this is big political news and should get coverage, but now the story of the 23 year old girl who was gang-raped has lost its prominence in the Indian media. From morning until noon, all news channels, news paper, news websites and all began reporting on the elections in the western Indian state of Gujarat. The poor girl’s story got pushed to news bulletins and ticker lines. Newspapers including the Times of India, the Hindustan Times and The Telegraph, everyone dedicated their first page to the powerful victory of Narendra Modi in Gujarat!

We know India is a democratic state, where the media represents the fourth pillar of democracy. In my graduation days I learnt that media basically acts as a yardstick of democracy and has power to challenge the way democracy behaves. After this shocking incident and the way television news media covered it, I felt that the victim may get some attention. But again, the stalwarts of the media industry proved me wrong! They ensured that whatever be the social cause, they will sensationalize it, but not follow it up to bring in a social change.

When my friend and fellow batch mate from Indian Institute of Mass communication, Nirupama Pathak, became a victim of honor killing, there was uproar in the Indian media for a few days. But when they got a better topic related to politics, the focus changed and still today some of us, her close friends, who are also journalists by profession, wonder why the Indian government can do justice to her. Since childhood, I have been learning that the pen is mightier than the sword, but the Indian media industry has made me understand that the pen is just a tool and sword is all powerful!

The media has time and again proved that what matters at the end of the day is just business and grants from the government. Instead of making elections the cynosure of news, could we not have stronger commitments from the media to get justice delivered to the young woman who has been gang-raped?

It is my fervent prayer to God that justice prevails for this 23-year-old girl and may it be the last assault case in the country. And I plead to the Indian media to not use rape and murder as interesting news items to tap into their audience’s attention and fill news space as and when required.

Author: Debarati Mukherjee

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan



21.12.2012 | 14:01