Home > India vs US, journalism, media misogyny > More Indian media stupidity

More Indian media stupidity

If you read this post, you’ll know what exactly I think of the Indian media. They’re as vapid and inaccurate as any media anywhere, but have historically been far less deliberately bigoted. Unlike say, in the US or in UK, there has never been in the Indian media, any history of intellectual rigor, any pride of work, or any institutionalized checks and balances.

Today, I read this: BJP’s Sarah Palin in the same newspaper that had a fantastic marketing campaign about ‘people’s voices’ at launch time, back in June 2005. I’m not sure I have the time or the inclination today to do a sentence-by-sentence rebuttal, but just two points that stick out:

  1. Right off the bat, Aarthi Jerath, in the great tradition of wannabe-ness that no amount of economic development can erase from a certain segment of India’s population, says: “We may not have found our Obama yet, but it looks like we’ve got a Sarah Palin equivalent all right.” In India, the equivalent of an Obama would be a smooth-talking, corrupt, lying, misogynistic minority candidate – Muslim or Dalit – who wins elections. Ms. Jerath, help me understand, what politician types do we have in India BUT Obama?
  2. Then, again in the first paragraph, “The BJP’s Sarah Palin is its chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, Vijay Kumar Malhotra. He’s become the butt of ridicule and criticism in party circles as the going gets tough in an election the BJP should have won with ease”. So is she saying the Republicans should’ve won this election with ease? Ha. Was this lovely reporter asleep during the last eight years? This was a year in the USA where a rock as a Democratic candidate would’ve won the elections, forget a rock star.

There’re many more obvious gaffes and examples of severe intellectual dishonesty, but well. “There is nothing so ridiculous but some journalist has said it”, with apologies to the Roman orator.

Update: There is hope, yet, for the media, but from the outside: http://sidshome1.blogspot.com/2008/11/p-sainath-and-farmers-suicides-in-india.html
I’m grateful for the rare, rare combination of a polite and sensitive tone, a fact-based disagreement, and plenty of citations and links in that post. On he goes onto my feed reader. Now for a couple of quibbles of my own:

  • P.Sainath talks, and talks, and talks, about farmer suicides. Weirdly, almost all of the suicides he cites are those of male farmers. Do women famers not exist? Do they not commit suicide or not in as many numbers as the men do (hard to believe, as suicide rates among women overall are higher than that for men)? Do the women farmer’s deaths not get tabulated/accounted for? Is only the suicide of the Male Head of Household important or critical to Sainath’s argument that indebtedness ==> depression ==> suicide: what about the debt-depression related suicides of the women who depend upon such men – the daughter who cannot go to school and/or get married?
  • Of all the solutions recommended to the agriculture output crisis, neither Sid nor Sainath really talk about gender change improving agricultural sector, specifically about inheritance laws, dowry laws, dowry practices, the education of women, reducing crime against women, improving child mortality rates, etc. Sid briefly touches upon it when he says “To me, factors like poor farm productivity, medical problems, social pressure to spend lavishly on a daughter’s wedding, etc., seem to be at least as important as debt – if not more so – in driving people to suicide.”
  • The big difference is that the industrial sector to a large extent, and the service sector to a much larger extent, have both succeeded in leveraging the people of the country in a much more diverse and broad-based way, than the agricultural sector has. Women are definitely a greater % of the workforce in services, and maybe in manufacturing (I need to check & confirm), than they are in agriculture. Again, not only is the imbalanced social situation leading to homan despair, even the productivity of the sector suffers. The large elephant in the room is the the criminal waste of the horsepower, the brainpower and the productivity of half the population of rural India.
  • Sid mentions some other statistics that may compete to be “the worst humanitarian crises facing India”. There is no mention there of these statistics: (A) every sixth girl child’s death is due to gender discrimination, (B) 1 out of 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 4, (C) 25% of the victims of commercial sexual exploitation in India are below 18 years of age. Like Echidne writes in “Planet of the Guys” here, “gender” seems to be something only women have and [..] all gender-related problems appear to be women’s problems. The “invisibility of women as human beings” seems to be all-pervasive, including, and sometimes especially, the logical, smart people that I like to read.

Separately, on the same CRY site, I also spotted this: “About 80% of child labour is engaged in agricultural work”. That is probably the most telling statistic of how the economics of the whole sector are so, so fucked-up.

  1. Siddhartha Shome
    November 25, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Arrived here courtesy the “links to this post” on my blog-post on Sainath and farmers’ suicides in India. Thanks for linking to my article. It looks like you are interested in women’s issues. You may be interested in Madhu Kishwar’s writings. I have found her to be one of the most perceptive writers on women’s issues in India. See my blog post about her here.

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