A case of witch-hunting
Corporate Media finding a fall guy in Sunanda Pushkar
IPL CONTROVERSY BY INAM UL REHMAN
The IPL fiasco has once again shown what an elitist media can do the public trust. The Indian media swooped down to the gutter and came out with a slur to defame Kashmiri born woman entrepreneur Sunanda Pushkar.
Despite talks of women emancipation and liberalisation in Indian media the men still believe that no woman can rise to the top without selling out her assets. When it comes to successful women entrepreneurs, men use the scale of morality for them to measure their success. The witch hunt was taken to new low when the elitist media blamed Sunanda Pushkar for all the evils in IPL. The same media was quite during the first two editions when rumours of betting, match fixing and bidding gone to the influential people were ripe. At that time they didn’t get any punching bag. Those involved were all influential and highly rich people. Taking them would have amounted to being involved in a futile battle. And no one wants to fight to its equal.
In Sunanda media found an easy prey. She being women—twice married and a single parent had all ingredients of what sustains Indian Television ratings. So it didn’t matter what channel and which newspaper was it—English or Hindi both raised muck against her. She was called ambitious as if being so is crime. The news men accused her of being fame, money and men hungry. Even the doctor who operated her for plastic surgery came out with the pictures! Where have all the professional ethics gone? Delineating Sunanda’s private life made Vidya Subrahmaniam of The Hindu to write: “When witch-hunt journalism of this kind comes into the mainstream media it sets a new principle: That it is kosher to get into people's personal territory. That no attribution need be made, that if the person being profiled is judged to be completely without a virtue, her version can be dispensed with.”
Her only fault is that she has risen to the top without any godfather and came from a place which is not considered ‘civilised’ by the entertainment industry. She has no history of being rich and belonging to page 3 people. Her friendship with Shashi Tharoor was made raunchy and risqué. Here again the target was Sunanda not Tharoor. She had every right to hold equity in the team as a citizen and as individual, but here the media did a cover-up. She was even held responsible for Tharoor’s second marriage break! Where have all the professionals gone! Is it sin to be a successful woman? Why blame one women who has come from modest background and doesn’t jump to hug anyone ala Preity Zinta and Shipa Shetty? Media in India is still run on parochial and chauvinistic basis. One Sagirika Ghosh or Barakha Dutta cannot change the set up of an elitist media in India who still believe that women cannot go on the top without flinging or sleeping with men who matter!
It was pity that women journalists came out in defence of Sunanda ‘s personal life not men. She has right of privacy as everyone has but the ‘liberated’ Indian media forgot it. It was refreshing to read Vidya Subrahmaniam of The Hindu, and Shoma Chowdhary of Tehelka. “Her real crime,” writes Shoma Chowdhary’s in the latest issue of Tehelka, “is that she is an attractive 46-year old widow, who is bright, vivacious and hot— in the way only those women can be, who have a comfortable relationship with themselves; who understand that beauty does not preclude one from being kind; or protect one from sorrow.” Writing further on the witch hunt trial of Sunanda she writes: “If the media had wanted to try the two for financial impropriety, it should have stuck to doing that. Instead, all of it has become an ugly spectacle about a society trying to decide what women are allowed and not allowed to be.”
So the crime of Sunanda is clear and unforgivable in Indian context. It is the country where sati was practised under the garb of religion which actually was denying property claims of women. No wonder Indian women are still not given any share in husband’s property despite talks of 33 reservations and ‘overwhelming’ numbers in Panchyat. The same media which brandished the Kashmiri woman entrepreneur as ‘blood thirsty vampire’ have rarely taken the issue of Khap Panchyats in Haryana where no civilised law exists except the panchyats. Where marriage is declared unlawful and couples with children are made brother sister. But you won’t hear any word against these Khap panchyats. In today’s India you won’t find the voice of streets. You will not find media confronting the social problem of caste, malnutrition, alarming dropout rates in schools, farmer suicides, unemployment and many more such things. The number of farmers who have committed suicide in India between 1997 upto 2010 now stands at a staggering 2 lakh. But this is a story which, according to P Sainath of The Hindu, nobody really wants to hear, much less see such graphic proof of. All the media is concerned is with IPL because it is played by rich. The rich invest in it. Glamour dolls of Bollywood turn cheerleaders for the media. The glamour factory keeps elite media agog.
The media has covered IPL cricket insanely while relegating, not other, but the most important news to just few spoken words. So what is media’s role then? The role has to be defined. It can no longer claim to be the watchdog of the nation. Of course it is an estate and privileged fourth estate where poor cannot dare to enter and successful single woman has to dress up and dress down according to the whims of elite media!
Lastupdate on : Tue, 27 Apr 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 27 Apr 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 28 Apr 2010 00:00:00 IST
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