Archive for May 14th, 2007

What if reporters are told what to write about?

14 May 2007

Chandramohan, the Baroda art student in the eye of a storm for “insulting” gods and goddesses in his school papers has been let off on bail today after five nights in the cooler. But the dean of MS University, Shivaji Panicker, is still suspended from his duties for standing up for the student’s freedom to draw what he wants. Thankfully, this moral policing has been restricted to Narendra Modi‘s asmita-laden Gujarat.

But what if…?

1) What if moles start leaking to tilak-toting goons what is being written, spoken and drawn by students and teachers in classrooms, seminars, and examinations?

2) What if self-appointed tilak-toting, trishul-weilding goons start going around schools, colleges and universities driving the fear of god—their notion of god—into our skulls?

3) What if students and teachers especially those in the arts—painters, poets, singers—start “learning” lessons from Chandramohan’s case and start self-censoring themselves?

4) What if vice-chancellors begin showing as little spine as the Baroda one and allow the tilak-toting, trishul-weilding goons to play moral police and run riot on campuses?

5) What if the police everywhere, out of fear and reverence, begin arresting students guilty of possessing a sense of imagination while letting the goons who only have a sense of indignation go scot-free?

6) What if governments, out of their own sense of power, begin sponsoring these tilak-toting, trishul-weilding goons and look on happily while they try to run our lives? (And what if the judges hearing the case conveniently go on leave when they have to hear the case?)

7) What if we let the tilak-toting, trishul-weilding goons decide what is offensive and insulting?

8) What if these tilak-toting, trishul-weilding goons say they will decide what we should wear, what we should see, what we should hear, what we should read—and what we should think?

9) What if we let these tilak-toting goons to decide whom we should worship and how He or She should look?

10) What if every State of India became a Gujarat? What if reporters and editors and publishers were told what to write, edit or publish?

11) What if you didn’t speak up?

Revenge is a river that runs fast, wide, deep

14 May 2007

The Karunanidhi-Maran family battle, sparked by the publication of an opinion poll, is entering new and dangerous territory. A privilege motion has been moved against an article published in Tamizhmurasu, an evening daily owned by the Sun TV group, over a May 10 article on the CBI inquiry into the arson and violence in Madurai which claimed three lives.

Considering what has happened in the past week leading up to the resignation of Dayanidhi Maran as Union minister this morning, that might seem like the natural trajectory for the ruling DMK to get back at the group for its gumption. But wait. The privilege motion has been moved, not by a DMK MLA, by a Congress legislator.

How much longer before Sun TV or Kungumam are found guilty of transgressing some other line, real or imaginary?

Meanwhile, on a day when every media stock was soaring on the Bombay Stock Exchange, the Sun TV scrip closed at Rs 1,534, down Rs 69. Does the market believe that the Sun TV party is over? And how much longer before the DMK launches its own TV channel?

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