Thursday, June 05, 2014

Holier than thou attitude of E-Media

Holier than thou attitude of E-Media

For the past 2 days the channels are blaring on the withdrawal of books from the shelves by Penguin and Orient. The so called saviours of freedom of expression calls this as an attempt by BJP and Sangh Pariwar to break the neck of literary world. After watching the charade by Arnab and a slightly subdued but nevertheless absurd talk show by Karan Thapar on 4th June, I only came to the conclusion, that the channels are looking for more sensationalism than substance.

The show is about the recent withdrawal or putting on review of some books by the publishers after they were issued with court notice under Sec 295A of the IPC. The  notice was issued at the behest of Dinanath Batra said to a RSS Pracharak. He had contested that the books contain some passages that describes the religious leaders and faiths in unacceptable terms that would hurt the sentiments of the believers. Immediately the e-media started to cry from the roof about the challenge to the freedom of expression. They forget that in the name of this liberty they can ignore the responsibility and the effect of such writings on the many believers. One of the panelists rightly put that the authors have every right to express themselves, but let them also understand that responsibility come along with such freedom. "Your right to swing the umbrella ends where my nose starts"

The anchors portrayed that the legal notice was an act of intimidation to the publishers, the review /withdrawal started only after the completion of elections and that BJP was responsible for this. What an absurd way of presenting the facts. If you google, you can find that the cases were filed more than 4 years back and the date in question was more a coincidence than a deliberate one. Moreover, the publishers have every right to contest the notice, but in a cowardly manner they chose to put the books on review or ban fearing protest or backlash. They could have taken remedies available in the system like seeking police protection.  

If the publishers cannot protect the authors who else will. What is the purpose of blaming political parties and where the hell politics come here. It is between the publisher and author. The petitioner wants the one book which distorts the history according to him to be banned in India and to remove the objectionable passage from the other two. This is not a fatwa issued by Hindu religious leaders like what we have seen before on other instances, but due process of law was followed.

Blowing up a trivial issue into a national debate is only showing that the e-media thinks that they are the saviours and whatever they utter are the gospels of truth. 

I am not hear to argue or contest the views of the authors in their respective books, but only condemn the way in which the media conduct the shows. The shows very clearly depicted the narrow understanding of the subject as both of the. were talking about a demand for ban while it was for the removal of the particular passage. Do not use the TRP ratings and viewership to misspeak the facts.

Gentlemen, freedom of expression is a right equally available to us as it is to you. Please do not mislead.


The books in question:

Wendy Doniger's "The Hindus: An Alternative History".
Megha Kumar's "Communalism and Sexual Violence: Ahmedabad Since 1969" 
Sekhar Bandyopadhyay's "From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India"

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