Guilty as Charged, and Perhaps Some More

If you turn on the television now, you'll find that nearly all the major Indian news channels are doing exactly the same thing. They're using all the powers of Microsoft Powerpoint that Bill Gates could muster, to broadcast a multitude of animated texts reading 'BREAKING NEWS' on every available space they could compromise on our television screens.

I wonder what Amanpour and Lucy Hockings would think if they look at the contemporary standards of Indian news broadcasts. 'Let the classiness waft over me for a few minutes.' But anyhow, it gets the job done and we needn't always be followers of how the West sees of the world, do we? It is a different thing that I feel they do a more classier job than us but then again, who am I to voice such opinions?

"It is my desire if not my duty to try to talk to you journeymen with some candor about what is happening in radio and television, and if what I say is responsible, I alone am responsible for the saying of it. Our history will be what we make of it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred year from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes of one week of all three networks, they will there find, recorded in black and white and in color, evidence of decadence, escapism, and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. We are are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable, and complacent. We have a built in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information; our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses, and recognize that television, in the main, is being use to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture, too late." - Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) broadcast journalist, CBS.

The most recent Tehelka scandal is huge for two reasons. One, for Tehelka is the very magazine that is known for it's stern advocacy of moral and legal righteousness in this country, it is shocking to find them at the center of the very controversy that they usually create for others. It is perhaps the only critical voice in India which boasts of the capacity to (if not topple) marginally shake up governments with it's arsenal of sting operations and intense investigative journalism. As it has been evident. Second, is the looming question of what happens now? Two of the founding members of Tehelka - Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhury - have gotten themselves seriously embroiled in the scandal. They have resigned from their respective posts, and this has led to the belief that the media house is being left for the dogs. They say that with their Mumbai office being shut down, its all but over for them.

I personally believe the entire situation could've been handled better by Shoma Chaudhury, the managing editor of TehelkaShoma has otherwise been a celebrated journalist, one of Newsweek's 150 women who shake up the world. But in this case, she stood her ground for a tad bit too long. So much so that she should've been at the helms at those dying moments too. When questions were raised on her integrity, she suddenly decided to leave. Well, ma'am, your name is anyway being included in the FIR, what's the hurry in leaving now? Shouldn't you also think about the other junior journalists who work with/under you, who have been rendered rather homeless and without guidance? Where goes morality now? Sure they'll be scooped up by other media houses, having worked in Tehelka, but only after being abandoned. Its a shame to see this kind of end to your otherwise strong-minded managerial skills.

The verdict will take a long time to get out, but the public opinion is clear. Guilty as charged, and maybe some more. Oh, but have you heard of that thing about public opinion? Its opinionated. And nothing reeks of being obstinate in one's opinions more than in the occurrence of of a sexual offense.

Tarun Tejpal is done in not by his crime, but by the nature of his crime instead. And the opinion of the people is so powerful in the twenty-first century that it is bringing down both Tehelka and Shoma Chaudhury down as collateral.

Right now, no one in this country would hear what they have to say. Vigils and marches are already finding their way into the prominent streets. Placards reading 'Death to the Rapist!' are being flaunted before the accused is even arrested! These are times when I get a feeling that democracy is but a sham, a hypocrisy in it's every waking step. The ideals of democracy would take the stand of the people. But if one of them decides to become the public enemy number one some day, he/she loses their very birthright to seek out justice. Suddenly democracy is wholly based on public opinion, however flawed and motivated that it may be. The accused (or as I'd like to call victims in certain cases), lose their say in what the real matter could be or what the fickle mind of the people are choosing to forget. Mind you, Tejpal and Chaudhury have some serious arguments to their cases that can just not be summed up within the one-word meaning of 'libel'.

Because it is a sexual offense, no one will point once at the faint possibility of this whole thing being politically motivated. If you think about it a little more, an inconspicuous connection is quite evident. So kindly clarify your facts before voicing out strong and hateful opinions as you risk your chances at acting wise. But no. There was sex. There was a crime. A sexual predator deserves no audience in our country. Well, for that, you can flaunt your democratic attitude in public, but personally, dear citizen of the largest democracy in the world, you can take your lip service and shove it up your lazy arse.

I'm well aware that I'm going to lose some readership after this. Or maybe I'll gain some for the stand. Either way, I'm glad to let the dissent out.


  1. That is one strong post. And I agree with your point. I see no reason why you should worry about losing your readership.

  2. Oh no, when I voiced my opinion among many educated colleagues of mine, they chastised me for 'seemingly' supporting the accused! Good to know that you could see my point.