September 10, 2007

Media : A Curate’s Egg- Gitanjali Nagpal and Uma Khurana

Filed under: India n Me,Most Read,opinions,Random,This Gets To Me,Truth of India — Kaveeta Oberoi Kaul @ 1:29 pm
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The role of Msm ( main stream media) has long been suspect. Unsure if their inherent purpose is to highlight issues that determine social change or merely act as conveyors of news with its fallacies and flaws intact, it appears floundering in the sea of its own dichotomies.

Two recent instances, in stark contrast to one another, if anything bring out with great precision this conundrum to the fore.

Gitanjali Nagpals saga, from model to beggar, found abandoned and in destitution on the streets of New Delhi, homeless and desolate, was pasted across all national channels. Her plight brought out the philanthropist in most of us viewers with quite a handful openly declaring their wish to rescue her.

It’s a horrifying story of the dark side of glamour: how one false move can send a promising career to a downward spiral of drugs and self-destruction. By her own admission, the ex-Mount Carmel student worked as a maid, spent her nights with men for money to quell her craving for drugs and alcohol and was in the end reduced to a life on the footpath.

Daughter of a naval officer and widowed mother, her family consisting of a sister, according to reports had disowned her. Her wild behaviour and violent ways had led to an estrangement not just with them but also her husband , a German national and her son. It would be so wrong to view this as a poster case for the ‘ modelling industry and its erratic ways’. Contrarily, it is one of a woman who had perhaps irresponsibly handled her life, emotionally bereft of mature grounding, had fallen victim to the vicissitudes of life unable to counter the whorls of storms most of us face, one time or another.

In the absence of timely intervention from the media, both print and electronic, she perhaps would have further deteriorated physically, emotionally and reached a point of no return. Today however, she is safely ensconced in a hospital, Vimhans, looked after by a set of caring doctors and away from prying eyes of an inquisitive world. By virtue of her story being thus published widely, is perhaps on to a new beginning. The most heartening bit of news was her husband , on reading of her situation has offered to reconcile and start life afresh.

One can therefore fairly accord kudos to the media for a role well played.

On the other hand, is the shocking story of school teacher Uma Khurana whose face was plastered all over the channels as one who had been conducting a prostitution racket involving her students. A sting operation allegedly conducted by ‘Live India’ a news channel, newly surfaced, exposed tapes, clippings and conversations, with money exchanging hands between the reporter and the accused.

This triggered widespread riots in new Delhi, against the school, and the woman Uma Khurana who was publicly beaten. Anger and outarage at the continuous clippings being aired on the channels, incited the common man as happens often these days to resort to violence and instant justice.

Something in the proceedings seemed erroneous. I had therefore desisted from writing about it, although the web world seemed agog at the rumors. Intuitively proven right, today the matters are different. The sting operation was fake. This was a clear case of vendetta against her by an ex Vice principal who she had accused of embezzlement. Gaining support from a Businessman, the operation was carried out with the help of a reporter Prakash Singh and his associate Rashmi Singh, who appeared in the tapes posing as the student victim forced into prostitution.

A sting that stinks!

The extent to which news channels are willing to denigrate themselves in an effort to titillate, gain Trp’s, sensationalise news, has been exposed. Now is a time as good as any for the media to re assess seriously this debilitating and diseased attitude towards its profession and the results of no ethics in journalistic standards.

Uma Khurana may fight for compensation and may also win. But there can be no fair compensation for the victim in this case. she is a mother of two and is now tarnished for life. A crime as heinous as rape has been committed..for rape does not apply to physical rape solely.

Video on the story of Uma Khurana and the latest developments

Difficult to conclude whether we live in times of a friendly media or one which is a monster serving its own end at the cost of precious human sentiments. I guess till the media itself fails to define its role, set parameters of responsibility, self censor its moves, evaluate stories from a human perspective, the dilemma will continue.

Media will only be akin to a curate’s egg.. good in parts.

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