When will we ever have structured, mature, objective reporting-and editorial writing? Yes, we do need heroes and we have them in plenty in the film and sports worlds. But the trouble is that everything that they do is so hyped up that when they fail they get slapped in the face in the most undignified manner. Sachin Tendulkar'scase illustrated this as few such cases do.
The media turned him into a super-hero, one who could be trusted to hit a century in every innings in every match. As The Hindu (March 21) noted this in a column, the media ?turned him into a sort of superhuman phenomenon, where none exists in the known world?. The column rightly pointed out that ?at no time in his remarkable career did Tendulkar tell us that he was immortal? but then who said that? The media, of course.
The media wants a hero every day. Dravid has become one now. Let him do poorly at some point in time and he will get just the kind of boos which Tendulkar received when he was out for just one run in the third and last Test against the British?.
It is well to remember that Bradman was out for a duck in the last match that he played. If only our media would treat ?celebrities? as just ordinary people who have their good and bad days journalism would have greater credibility. One also expects from the media some understanding of history and the meaning of words.
When The Times of India (March 11) publishes an article by Yoginder Sikand that said that just over three years ago ?Gujarat witnesses a state-sponsored genocide that culminated in the deaths of some three thousand Muslims and led to a complete breakdown of inter-community relations? one wonders whether there is anything like editorial responsibility.
In the first place in the entire article there was no reference to what happened in Godhra. In the second place the figure of Muslim deaths has been deliberately raised; in the third place it was by no means a ?state-sponsored genocide?. Should an editor permit such lies to be propagated by anyone, anytime on grounds of freedom of expression? One may or may not like Narendra Modi but some self-responsibility should be shown by editors when deliberate efforts are made at character assassination.
The Tribune obviously believes that the two coaches of the Sabarmati Express which went on fire on February 28, 2002 had nothing to do with any Muslim conspiracy. If one believes that one would believe anything. The Tribune has accepted Justice U.C.Banerjee'sreport which sought to prove that the fire was accidental, refusing to accept the fact that a Muslim mob over 2,000 strong was seen openly to throw stones, acid bulbs, petrol cans and fire rags at the coaches. If The Tribune thinks all that is purely imaginary, it is its business, but how will again that add to the paper'scredibility?
In one'shatred of Modi and the Sangh Parivar if a paper says that ?questioning the competence of impartiality of Justice Banerjee in totally unwarranted? what, then, is left of truth?
A UP legislator (actually he is a Minister) announced the other day at an open public meeting that he is setting up a contribution fund to collect Rs 51 crore as a reward for the assassination of a Danish cartoonist who had depicted the Prophet in the poorest of tastes. The Muslim Minister should have been hauled over the coals. But nothing of that sort has happened.
Writing in The Times of India (March 11) columnist Jug Suraiya made an important point. ?That he (the Muslim Minister) is walking around scotfree suggests a form of self-censorship, a self-composed timidity of response (the Hindutva brigade would call it appeasement) where Islam is concerned? Suraiya noted, adding: ?Indeed it was to protest against precisely such self-imposed restraint via-a-vis Islam that the Danish publisher elected to print the cartoons which led to the conflagration??
Suraiya wanted to know ?why is Islam so thin-skinned that it cannot take in stride the slings and arrows of sometimes outrageous democracy and the often provocative discourse it can engender and why must Muslims be singled out for preferential treatment in such cases?
?Hindus, of course, get angry when their gods and goddesses are painted in indecent ways as does M.F.Husain, but nobody is out to kill him. What is sad is that the Muslim community has not come forward to condemn him, in no uncertain language. Suraiya blames the media saying that ?a large part of the problem is that it is only the radical, intolerant aspect of Islam that is projected by the media.? As he put it, ? The lives and opinions of the many millions of devout Muslims the world over who follow their faith in consonance with the laws of the land, and indeed who condemn the excesses of their fanatical co-religionists, don'tmake for headlines or prime time news; riots, fatwas and terror attacks do.?
Correct. How many newspapers one wants to know thus reported that in Varanasi, Muslim women staged a dharna to protest the March 7 serial bomb blasts in the temple town'sSankat Mochan Temple demanding issuance of a fatwa (edict) seeking death for terrorists? The women, wearing burqa demanded that Muslim religious leaders issue an edict against perpetrators of terror in India and seek death penalty for them. That story should have become lead story in every self-respecting paper. About the only paper to carry the news was Free Press Journal. That shows how responsible our English media is.
Actually The Free Press Journal is among the very few English dailies that show courage to editorially stand up to terrorists and face truth boldly. It had the courage thus to trash the Banerjee Commission Report (March 6) and say that the retired judge ?has singularly failed to provide a cogent explanation for the fire which consumed 59 karsewaks?.
Pointing out that ?the most unfortunate fall-out of the final Banerjee report is that it needlessly opens afresh wounds? the paper said that the ?fact that the Godhra fire led to widespread communal rioting in Gujarat in which nearly 2,000 persons, including 300 odd Hindus, lost their lives does not seem to be reason enough for the partisans to end their nefarious games.?
?A seemingly tailor-made report by a retired judge, hand-picked for the job by a Minister keen to burnish his pro-Muslim image can only undermine faith in the Commission of inquiry? the paper added.
Actually, Justice Banerjee has done worse than undermining faith in his report. He had consciously damaged the judiciary which has long been known for its objectivity. His colleagues should disown him. People are beginning to lose faith in retired judges at all levels because of Justice Banerjee'sefforts to cover up truth. The man probably either does not know-or couldn'tcare less-of the damage he has wrought on his profession.