Are there too many Tigers in India?
A star speaks his mind. The practitioners of the ‘politics of intimidation’ can’t believe he said so. The star won’t apologize. Neither will the paper tiger. The war is declared. The media harps twenty-four seven about ‘My Name is Khan’ (MNIK). One talk show after the other, tweets, debates, so many people yapping on and on about it. The commotion is understandable. An intolerant political goon against the Badshah. Everyone has a right to have an opinion. That’s understandable too. The politics of intimidation must end. One must stand up for what one believes in. No second thoughts about the aforementioned statements either. But what is the entire controversy about? The freedom of speech, isn’t it?
A person after s/he is fed, sheltered and clothed knows the importance of the freedom of expression. How much would the freedom to express matter to the one who is hungry? How much air time/print space do the violence ridden states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Jharkhand receive in the Indian media each day? How much time do the vibrant Indian media have for such people who know not of the Right to Life itself? How much appeal does a reality which does not involve sex, power and the celebrity hold for it?
Nothing seemed to have happened in the country of more than a billion people other than the MNIK controversy. I am with SRK on this issue but doesn’t this 24×7 coverage suggest its high time the media here needs to introspect?
Did nothing worthwhile happen in the second most populous country on EARTH all the while? Did no greater violations of ‘personal freedom’ occur in this country? What about the 1/4th of India’s population below poverty line who ALSO live in this ‘shining’ nation?
Does someone need to die of hunger first to make news? Aren’t people who are being killed slowly everyday because they are devoid of food, shelter and justice worthy of coverage? Where is the ‘ground zero’ (the term often used by the news anchors before letting their colleagues in the multiplex premises in Mumbai speak) reporting on it?
Who made each MNIK show run houseful all over India? Who were the tweetple who made #MNIK and #MyNameIs the trendiest topic in twitter? They were definitely not the below poverty line populace.
It looks as though India is so desperate to be recognized as the ‘super power’ and ‘shining’ nation that it would rather prefer not to indulge in the debate of the poor. A large section of the Indian media, especially the English ones, is the testimony to that fact.
The Pune blast in German Bakery finally threw MNIK out of the picture. But when TWENTY policemen were killed in the biggest Maoist strike in West Bengal yesterday (Feb 15) IT did not make the banner news in Delhi newspapers except for The Indian Express. Nor was it a preference for the TV channels. They were too busy debating ‘why India should not talk to Pakistan as all ‘plans of terror’ take place in Pakistan.’ The blame game seems to be India’s favorite sport. Cricket comes far behind, trust me on that. They never ask why the Indian Mujhadeen exists in India in the first place and why the angst against the establishment when India as a nation which has the second largest Muslim population in the world supposedly provides far more opportunities to them than Muslim Pakistan?
The need to act like the ‘big brother’ has become more important to Indians, thus talk of all these international agendas, than acknowledging the real war back home. The story of hunger, the story of terror faced everyday by the ‘aam admi’ (the word is literally molested by the media here) does not fit into the India shining picture, does it? Let the Naxals kill, its time to visit multiplexes for the ‘Shining India’, its time for the ‘vibrant media’ to translate Bal Thackeray’s Marathi editorial into all languages and create a tehelka. They call him ‘Paper Tiger’ here. Ironically, the same people who keep branding Thackeray a ‘Paper Tiger’ turn him into a real one. And they shamelessly deny the existence of the real tiger (not India’s national animal limited to the number 1411): the war on poverty. The forgotten communist war has been killing the poor in India for more than four decades. There were 1134 deaths in 2009 due to Maoist violence. That is almost the number of tigers alive in India. Doesn’t the figure make it seem there are too many tigers in India?