Intro: India’s Daughter by British film-maker Leslee Udwin deviates from the real incident of the December 16 gangrape and focuses on the rapist’s mindset where the victim’s family is utilised to enhance the impact of the rapist's account. Ignoring the crimes against women in developed nations and by calling India a country of sick mindest, Leslee reveals the double standards of BBC as her documentary is not only exploitative, it seems wrong too.
India’s daughter, a documentary based on the Delhi gang rape, has created turmoil in India as well as abroad. Both the impropriety of the BBC and the instantaneous action taken by the Government has invited several criticisms. So far the content of the documentary, its legitimacy, the wider consequences that may create etc have been critically examined by the people of expertise and ability in the public domain. Here I am not intended to take up the same concerns which were already discussed over and over again. My intention is to expose the double standard of BBC on the issue of the security of women and children. Do they have the moral right to take up such an issue, apart from reporting daily news and analysing national and international polity and economy?
The documentary is not only offensive in its storytelling, British film-maker Leslee Udwin has by calling India a country of sick mindset forced the viewers to question the intention of the film-maker: Did she intend really to cover the sensitivity of the gut-wrenching crime against a woman or was it being tilted towards the narrative of the rapist to defame India in the global community. No doubt sexual crimes against women in India are on rise but this malaise is equally present in developed nations like America and Europe among others. According to United Nations Development Fund for Women report- Between 40 and 50 percent of women in European Union countries experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work. Across Asia, studies in Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea show that 30 to 40 percent of women suffer workplace sexual harassment. In Nairobi, 20 percent of women have been sexually harassed at work or school. In the United States, 83 percent of girls aged 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.
Almost 60 percent of women surveyed in Montreal, Canada reported that theywere afraid of walking alone in their neighborhood at night (compared to 17 percent of men). In a study in Lima, Peru, only 12 percent of women reported that they could move freely without fear of aggression. Throughout, whether it was about India’s struggle for independence or about the anti-apartheid movements, the role of the BBC has been circumscribed into that of a loyal watchdog of British Imperialism. It was the duty of the BBC to defend the kleptocratic apartheid of the Great Britain without any shame or disgust. For the last many years, BBC is seen to be very keen about even the minor developments in the subcontinent. It was not the first time they have slandered India. A series of incidents can be cited as an attempt to purposefully tarnish our country
Anti-Indian and Anti-Hindu Bias
Jeremy Clarkson, the host of the Top Gear, stirred up a series of controversies after mocking the culture and life style of the people of India. In an Indian special episode of BBC Top Gear, he traveled across India in a vehicle with a toilet built in the back of it. He jibed, it would be perfect for tourists because everyone who visits India suffers diarrhea. The Indian High Commission lodged a formal complaint against his perpetual racist comments against Indians.
The Indian community in the UK is also upset with discriminations. Hindu and Sikh communities in the UK have accused the BBC of appeasing British Muslims by making a disproportionate number of programmes on Islam at the expense of other Asian religions. Between 2001 and 2008, BBC made 41 religious programmes on Islam, compared with just five on Hinduism and one on Sikhism. It apparently shows the Anti Hindu-Sikh bias of BBC. In March 2012, a BBC reporter referred to the holy festival of Holi as “a filthy festival”.
It was not first time BBC broke the ethical guidelines of journalism. They faced a trust deficit among its viewers after the broadcasting of an award winning documentary on Child Labour in India. The Panorama documentary, shown on BBC One on 23 June 2008, included undercover footage of three boys in a Bangalore workshop “testing” Primark brown vest tops to make sure that sequins would not fall off. The Track contained the footage of three boys in a Bengaluru based clothing factory. But the footage was later found unauthentic and fake. It was alleged it was being forged by the BBC to tarnish India in the international Diaspora. BBC later agreed to the ingenuity of the documentary and was later forced to apologise to Primark, to Indian suppliers and all its viewers.
BBC : A Safe Haven for Rapists
BBC has come up as a self proclaimed apostle of women and children of India, and there has been an orchestrated attempt to portray India as a worst place for women and children. As a result of this baseless non-stop propaganda, there has been a huge decline in the number of foreign visitors to India in the last years.
British people may not have forgotten the revelation of a series of sex scandals that have allegedly taken place on the premises of BBC where several other BBC staff members were alleged to be involved in the case: Jimmy Savile’s (BBC TV presenter who died in October 2011 aged 84)scandal ruffled the faces of several millions. Savile, who died four years ago, allegedly abused hundreds of children (nearly 1000 according to The Guardian) over a period of fifty years!
As reported in the article:Jimmy Savile and the BBC: the story so far in the The Guardian-The BBC, the UK's most respected media organisation, is now accused of having, at the very least, turned a blind eye to allegations of Savile's behaviour – some of which is said to have occurred on its premises to children Savile had met on his shows. An investigation by the BBC's Newsnight programme was scrapped amid allegations of pressure from senior executives. The BBC said it was dropped because of editorial reasons.
In this backdrop, it would have been justified if the testimony of the rapist was shot for any research purpose in the light of criminology. Also questionable is what the message the film-maker wants to give? Does she want to say that all Indian men are as perverted as the brutal rapists who are waiting for gallows? If so then Britain which is generally perceived as a good market for the graphical explanations of heinous crimes and testimony of rapists, the psychiatric treatment should be delivered to them, not to Indians.
The controversial documentary was telecasted on BBC 4 despite the ban imposed by the Government of India. It has little to do with freedom of expression, as freedom of speech cannot be perceived as a license to propagate anything which may hurt the sentiments of the society. Being a responsible media house, the BBC should have obeyed rule and law of India and the plea of India’s intelligentsia and general public.
In the wake of past incidences, it will take several centuries to wash out all the nauseated malodor of the legendary journalism and allied activities of BBC. If the intention of the channel is pure, they should focus their camera on the faces of their erstwhile colleagues who brought humiliation to the entire British community. And make a momentous documentary based on the saga of their pedophile journalists and presenters; of the heinous crimes against women by British men before they cover other nations. It seems that BBC purposefully hides such incidents which happen in UK from the sight of the world, but sensationalise incidents happening in India and around the other developing nations.
All said, if BBC is really committed to deliver justice to the victims of sexual crimes, they should first bring their perverted employees, who allegedly committed rape on the premises of the BBC, to justice. When they chose silence when hundreds of innocent children and women were raped under their nose, they have no moral ground to question the people of India and Indian Government.
Ganesh Radhakrishnan (The writer is a freelancer )