8 April 2014

Attack on Arvind Kejriwal

"Why is this happening to him," the media woman was asking, with a wry smile on the corner of her mouth. She knew her cameraperson had got a clean shot of the devilish act of a man first garlanding and then aiming a slap at Arvind Kejriwal. Her channel had already rewound and shown it 30 times. The TRPs were soaring. "Is this conduct right," she continued artificially, trying to sound concerned, while occupying only half the screen - the other half again showed the act of violence, five times in quick succession even as she spoke her sentence.
     One misguided man acted rashly for a moment. A hundred voyeuristic media channels acted deliberately and re-telecast the ugly scene a thousand times. The way they took a five-second shot and went back-and-forth, and back-and-forth, it was an act of violation - the media was brutalising Arvind Kejriwal.
     The camera also followed the criminal as he was escorted out by the police, and they repeatedly telecast his swear words, ending with, 'Kejriwal is a betrayer'. Back in the studio, the woman with the fake concern was at it again - every time she reported that Kejriwal was attacked, she immediately added, "but the attacker says Kejriwal is a betrayer". What is this? Is this what the media reckons as 'showing both sides of the story?'
Sorry, miss, you are not a journalist at all. But that does not worry me so much, someone can always help improve your competence. What is worrisome is that you have shown no sensitivity, you have displayed pleasure at someone's pain. And that means an absence of humanity. Would you report a rape and immediately show the rapist saying, oh, but she's a liar, she betrayed me, so she deserved it?
     But the violence was not over yet. The camera then went to Kapil Sibal who, in such a delicate moment, minutes after the violence, said - guess what - that "Kejriwal is a betrayer". The microphone then went to the BJP spokesman in the studio - they were taking turns at it now - and this chap says, "The attacker was hired by Kejriwal himself" - really, what intellect these fekus have.
     Oh, but what could the media have done, a friend asked. That is a good question. They could have reported the act of violence with dignified seriousness, without showing the video. This is an act which is not desirable in society. You don't show murder or rape or any brutality - it is your feeling for the issue that ought to come across. Therefore, report that it happened, that it is unfortunate - even request the audience not to indulge in such acts. Appeal to their good sense, not to their voyeuristic sense, not to their baser, aggressive tendency. That is the role of media in a civilized society.
    It is a fact that media can and does influence mass behaviour. The way our media has been displaying the ink-throwing and assault incidents, it reeks of voyeurism and sadism, and it encourages, even instigates, some among the audience into thinking of doing similar acts. The extreme aggression, violence and senseless action in cinema, too, is affecting society. Yes, it makes money for some people. It is unfortunate that there exists an economic system where violence and pornography also make money for some people. But it is up to us to see what kind of society we want.
     Whether it is the shoe-throwing incident on Chidambaram, or the slapping incident on Sharad Pawar, or the recent attacks on Kejriwal, I feel a sense of shame for the nation as a whole, and particularly for Delhi, where I have lived for 18 years. There is no better inspiration for us at this delicate time than Mahatma Gandhi. If you live in Delhi, I urge you to go to Rajghat and offer a silent prayer, let us atone for our brother's misdeed.