Media is the fourth pillar of Democracy. The Legislative, the Executive, the Judiciary, the media and the voluntary sector make five pillars of Democracy. Just like the other pillars of Democracy media has the responsibility to project allthe different parts of society in such a way that their problems are exposed to the public and the government so theycan show their concern and take positiveactions to improve their plight.
Women constitute the largest group of the Indian population. Nearly half the people in this country are women. At the very least women deserve that the government and the public are concerned with their welfare. Indian history is a glorious one, a history that also includes women who have left their mark on India and society. Modern day media has a very short history. Media, especially the electronic media has changed our concepts, our vision and our actions towards all the different sections of our society. Media has influenced our meals, our clothing and our homes; it has also brought change in the way we see ourselves. Media can neither take the time to explore any particular topic in depth nor look towards the future. It stands as a pillar of Democracy for today. It takes days and sometimes just hours for current news to become yesterday’s news.
Women in India have a glorious past, a bright present and a brilliant future. Today media spotlights theproblems women of all ages face. But the media highlights the plight of women through its own lens. They present their views on the news which become the public’s view. At the time of India’s Independence 99 percent of women worked at home or in the fields.A poet wrote- “Tu aangan ki jyoti behan ri, mai ghar ka pehrewala”. (You are the light of the courtyard, dear sister, I will keep you safe). Women stayed within the boundaries of their houseswith the security provided by the men in the family. They did not dream of the world outside their homes and they were contentwith the skyabove their courtyard. The sun, the moon and the stars came tothem in their courtyard. Women made the moon a part of their family and the beautiful moon became their brother and “Chanda Mama” for their children.
In spite of all the different facets of the Indian woman, the media persists in depicting her as a mere body – a body to sell products. She sells everything, even cigarettes. We can be thankful that the media doesn’t expect her to sell male undergarments. But we do see her appreciating a manin undergarments.In making her a mere saleswoman the media has made a multi-dimensional woman with body, mind, intellect and soul into a one-dimensional product. She is herself a product of the media. Fifty years ago a Hindi poetess Mahadevi Verma had warned that “the women have not to become commodity, but person. If you convert yourself into a commodity the male partner will buy and sell you.” Many impressionable young girls today blindly model themselves on the media’s representation of women.
But women are more than a body. They have a mind, an intellect and a soul. Some young women see themselves as simply a body and take great care of their bodies but not their souls. Women have always decorated their bodies. In fact, every part of her body was decorated by mehendi, mahaber and ornaments. Our oral and written history beautifully describes a woman’s decorations. But by representing her only as a body, the media has distorted her traditional roles as well. She is appreciatedas neither a mother-in-law nor a daughter-in-law and it makes them suspicious of each other.
Women are known for their compassion (mamta). Women are imbued with the unique qualities to become a mother. The woman as a mother is the most revered person. That’s why we expect men to protect and respect women in our society. Women have been always been respected by men and society. But today the word ‘respect’ is missing from the women’s lives. Young women are distancing themselves from the word respect. They insist they are equal to men. On the other hand, the media describessociety as male dominated and the cause of the problems women face. This puts women in direct competition with men rather than as their companions or complements. That’s why women fear men in all spheres of their livesfrom the house to the office. This is not healthy for the family and the society. And it is certainly not healthy for the development of man and woman. This is why the Domestic Violence Act and the Discrimination at Work Place Act have to be upheld and enforced.
The media projects that the problems women face affect only women. This has isolated women in society as they struggle to find solutions. But a solution can only be effective if it actively involvesmen because these are not just women’s problems but also men’s problems. Media showsmen and women as adversaries. Media took on the cause of women by describing the problem of Damini, an incident that happened in our nation’s campital, as the problem of our society. The people took notice but it was already too late. Media cannot give sanskar to our youth. The society forgot to take care of the women, because the media taught them that the women would take care of themselves. This is neither practical nor traditional.
Media should think calmly and act responsiblywhen depicting the modern woman. Of course, media plays a very important role in the life of our society not just in a woman’s life.The Indian constitution gives women and men equal rights. Most women are unaware of their constitutional rights. The media is trying to make them conscious of their rights. In the past women were simply doing their duties, but today women know their rights. However, women must remember both their duties as well as their rights in their home and office.
Media, the fourth pillar of Democracy should be conscientious while depicting the face of women.