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Dear media,

India is witnessing an unprecedented event. It is the largest election to date in the world. We have them every five years, but our population has grown since our own previous record. So has the reach of mass media and social media and mobile phones.

Recent developments in the country have raised the question of governance and accountability till you cannot say politics without thinking fighting corruption.

History is in the making, and our primitive media needs to evolve to be worthy of it. Let me not mince words. When I say primitive, I'm not speaking of your monthly air conditioning bill or the size of cars of our anchors, but the refinement of thinking that seems sadly absent.

Today, if we see the coverage of the elections, there really is little in terms of addressing the issues on governance and the priorities of people that will get expressed through the act of voting.

When we look back on a historic election, are we really to see a jumble of perception mongering and nothing that documents the change the country goes through? Are poll surveys, talk shows and campaign coverage all there is to elections? Is politics only about political parties?

What are the changes in the country? Demographics? Economy? Concerns about governance? How are they influencing how people engage with the structure of the country? How have gender rights engaged with the election process? Farmer rights? Tribal rights? Business classes, traders, large corporations? How are people choosing their leaders? What possibilities are there?

Evolution of people can't be about laws and policies alone. It takes a continuous dialogue, and it is where media is failing the country drastically. Our perception of priorities seems unable to exit what is within easy reach of elite areas. Rising devolution to primitive intolerance is further fanned by the media. And it isn't only about religion, it is about everything. Uncompromising conclusions and programmes that begin with black and white views and end there with the same few faces peddling the same few stands with changing "hot topics" that are remarkably similar to each other.

If we leave aside Satyamev Jayate, I can't recall the last time I heard dialogue on rape unless there was a young slim professional woman involved. Child rape, rape of older women, marital rape, gay rape and more are all not interesting enough. Because media is selling what sells, and what sells is violent sex/rape fantasies - even if they are accessed as being the problem. Media treats rape as sex, even when it is to say rape is not sex. The words being said are one thing, but the choice of "victims" tells its own tale. If there is a brief detour, it may be toward pedophilia. The knee jerk sitting up to pay attention of an exploitative population when titillating subjects fall on their ears, successfully turned into a low effort high turnover business. It isn't all that different from rape scenes selling films a decade or two ago. No one was calling the rapist a hero, but the crowd whistling in the theater used to say the film will be a hit.

We can speak of Soni Sori, and be angry about her specific perpetrators, who are not us. But speaking of the exploitation of tribal women or women of minorities... or worse women of the majority touches too close to home. Let us not do it. Who can blame you. Media is patriarchy after all. Male dominated, male owned, catering to a male dominated society, in bed with male dominated corporations and male dominated politics. You either consciously rise above these instinctive defaults, or quit the pretense of being progressive.

This is just one example. Every aspect of the country has vast unspoken sides. Kept silent to suit power lobbies.

What is the cost of living today? How much of our income are we saving as compared with our parents? Are these things the reason why the government faces an undeserved wrath, or has the government created them? What do people think about their ability to save? What do they believe will help them reach a more satisfying situation? You cannot expect your three piece suit to comment on the practicalities of running a home with three kids on a vegetable vendor's income. But there are plenty of vendors on the street who are expert commentators from sheer first hand experience!

This is an election where many of them are on the forefront of the minds of people. Yet media doesn't seem to have much interest into delving into them and bringing out really thought provoking programmes that tell people something they didn't know in ways that are demonstrably scientific rather than opinions. Here's a simple but powerful thought. The freedom to work and earn for a woman instantly turns a single income home into a dual income home. What implication does that have for poverty?

There are the biggies like corruption. And then looking within. Paid media. Both huge issues come election. One herded carefully into safe zones. The other blacked out, because what could be more horrible than looking into the mirror, right?

We speak of paid media, but all media cannot be paid. There is simply no way possible that every article could be monitored and controlled. It may be part of the problem to wring hands and moan about what others do, but it isn't the whole story. The larger part of the story is a lack of integrity.

Today, when Arvind Kejriwal was attacked, Times Now started a hashtag #SlappedAgain which largely got taken over by trolls to celebrate the assault. I don't think I need to comment on Times Now Hashtags. You'd have to be living under a rock to not see them. I can understand that Times Now has its own issues with sanity and does whatever it does. What is more difficult to understand is the complete silence of other channels on it. Apart from prejudicing the public before the elections and being a direct assault on democracy, a tag like this is also a trigger for further assault - being broadcast to massive numbers of followers and viewers.

The quid pro quo is not merely with politicians and business houses. It is with anything with the potential of causing discomfort or worse - real challenge. There is no scholarship or integrity demanded of self or each other.

As a "consumer", I have been reading for ages about how media should self-regulate. What is this self regulate? A channel getting its own reporters to toe lines? A newspaper publishing a retraction if someone sends a notice? What is your responsibility for upholding the quality of national dialogue? Or is the idea to get away with the easy deal till someone makes a law and forces some action that can be complied with minimally?

If there is one news channel with media bias, are the other channels dead? Are they blind that they do not see what is going on? They see. They may even snigger among themselves or readily admit that what is happening is wrong, but the will not leave their cushy chairs to report it and expose it. Because news cannot be about how perceptions are created, right?

In India, media has reached a level of impunity where little can be done about it, and it is a problem as much as a solution. A media that can devote endless time to a toppled metal detector or three month investigations into a 10 year old blog post about spam failed to draw enough attention to stings with an immediate relevance to the upcoming election. Stings on social media "services" that offer to promote your candidate or invent character assassination of your opponent. Services that offer to trigger riots for political purposes - including a recent demonstration of the video of the Sialkot lynching from 2010 being used to incite mobs in the Muzaffarnagar riots.

Media has failed to report adequately on the implications of perception engineering through doctored poll surveys. Media has failed to draw attention to the problems being reported with ballot boxes. Media has failed to provide adequate disclosure of broadcasts of event feeds provided by political parties - which essentially amounts to free advertising time.

Are we to look back on this historic election and find only a jumble of promotion and slander and poll surveys that look nothing like the results? Are we to look back at a historic body of work and find very little on parties other than those able to court limelight in Delhi?

It is not about one channel or newspaper failing, it is a collective failure where failure of one does not get professionally challenged, but cooperated with, resulting in a very poor intellectual capacity of Indian journalism as a whole.

Consider that journalism is a post graduate degree in India, and most news websites - at least the established ones - are at least a decade old. Yet we have news websites with the fundamental inability to link to sources. This is something your average blogger figures out within a week. Yet we have reports of crucial surveys and reports and laws without linking to documents so that the reader may educate themselves. From a profession of spreading knowledge, it is a profession of hoarding and controlling how much people are told.

A culture of intellectual fakery and not acknowledging sources means that reporting news reported by another channel won't do the honesty of naming the channel and linking to the news. Videos stolen from producers like Jay Hind without credit or compensation. Because of course some idiot who learned SEO 5 years ago recommends against linking out to hoard importance with search engines (no longer true). Every interview is an "exclusive" - published on five websites within minutes of each other. Report on some important research will not contain link, because that will be the more authoritative source for it, and you will no longer be the "best information" sabse tej or whatever shit. So FAKE it rather than look like you didn't invent all knowledge in the world. Last year, three news websites actually published news that the NIA (I think) had released sketches of terrorist suspects for people to see and report if they spot - WITHOUT PUBLISHING THE SKETCHES.

It is a lazy, unethical form of journalism that is so bloated on self importance that it fails to see its own importance in a moment when its ability to be a voice of knowledge will serve its country well. It fails to see beyond its own superiority. Sometimes treating AAP with contempt because "unwashed masses" protest and have no ability to rule or some such prejudice. Other times they shove a mic into someone's face that they want bytes from to sell, without respecting the person or understanding why they are important. But then, a media that doesn't sense its own value can hardly be expected to value another.

This can go on and on, but the main purpose of this letter is a reminder. You are more than a job. More than a "make no waves and never be controversial" hen laying golden eggs. You have voice, you have the power to reach the people of this country. You are faced with a historic occasion with an unprecedented number of issues determining the votes and a public with no access to find out realities beyond what you tell them. So far.

The internet is killing newspapers. Very soon it will kill TV channels too, unless they remain useful. The question is whether you are worthy of the responsibility for bringing national dialogue into this century and being the mirror reflecting the country for people to see and self-evolve?

Because there is also WhatsApp and Facebook and Twitter and word of mouth.... which may not have your power or speed, but if they win the trust you lose, you won't get it back, because the world is evolving into new media.

Do yourself the favor of dignity. Be the kind of journalists you idolize and would like to be remembered as, instead of assembly line robots adding a chunk of words into a larger design determined by someone else. Do the country the honor of honesty.



A woman in Jharkhand has killed her neighbour for trying to rape her five year old daughter. The woman was out of her home for work when the neighbour misbehaved with her daughter. When she returned, her daughter told her. In a fit of rage, she bludgeoned the man to death.

While it isn't the prettiest of news to read, it is the best news I have read in a long while that contains the words "five year old" and "rape", considering that the usual news to come out of Jharkhand involves stuff like "12 year old boy rapes 5 year old girl", "5 year old girl raped and murdered", "Neighbour rapes 5-year-old, victim made to wait five hours outside hospital", "20 men gang rape 4 minor girls" and so on.

Is murder right? No. But I can't blame the mom for doing it. I believe in non-violence, but a threat to my child is one of the few things that would probably lead me to violence with no regrets. Call it the "mama tiger" syndrome or whatever, but I cannot regret the lack of one child rapist in this world.

Parents of girls outside the insulated middle and upper classes live with a constant fear for their safety that does not get addressed adequately by those who insist they have no right to restrict their daughters. It isn't merely about control, it is also about not wanting pain for their child. My maid in Borivli lived in a slum and often came to work with three daughters in tow because the few people she trusted were not available to look after them.

Child rape is on the rise. All rape is on the rise. In a country where a rape happens every seven minutes, courts are not resolving cases every seven minutes and that is the fact. Governments are not bothering to give a clear message that rape is not acceptable. What is a parent to do when a threat to their precious child lives next door?

Perhaps the male dominated thinking will sit up and take notice that a problem exists only when rapists get killed because they weren't controlled.




March 16 2012: By: Vijay Panjwani, Advocate Supreme Court

Honesty, punctuality, a propensity to keep promises, the attitude towards corruption are matters shaped in great part by norms and social beliefs and the behavior patterns can become habitual. In democratic India what can be done by government depends in great measure on how ordinary people think and what people believe in…Quote from the Economic Survey published by TOI, Delhi 16-3-2012 on Page 15.
The Gurgaon abduction and rape of a mother of three year old boy while commuting in a taxi along with her brother from pub named ‘Last Chance’ to her home. And the other case of a girl accompanied by her one year old baby being raped. The public pain and sympathy is overflowing in favour of the victims even as we were discussing the murder of Narendra Kumar 30 year old IPS officer taking action against illegal mining after midnight in Morena District, Madhya Pradesh following other such incidents in the same state in Satna and Panna Districts.
Several questions arise in such sexual violations of the human body. In Gurgaon cases violence was forced upon to over-awe, subdue, and surrender.

  1. What are the duties of the pub owner.
  2. Liability for damages in public law in addition to statutory rights to compensation.
  3. What type of State policing is required.
  4. Whether there is State duty to eradicate social and criminal activities. In doing so can State restrict the right to work of needy women by notifying 8 PM as time to stop work but in doing so does not restrict entry of women guests in pubs after 8PM. Is it true that most pubs open after 9PM in Gurgaon and close at 2 AM. Can any pub stop entry of a girl working inside or outside the pub upto 8 PM from changing her status to guest after 8 PM. Is it illegal to facilitate single males to enter pubs requiring female-male entry only. Can a pub which knowingly benefits by the escort service provided by rape victim turn around and say she has nothing to do with the pub.
  5. Is Violation of victims Human Right to security enforceable.
  6. 1993 UN General Assembly resolution to eradicate violence against women compliance in India.
  7. Whether victims of rape entitled to immediate No Fault compensation by State.
  8. Whether pub owner liable to pay compensation to any woman ‘working’ for the ‘benefit’ of his income. What meaning to be given to the terms ‘benefit’ and ‘working’ strictly statutory or liberally enlarged.
  9. Whether necessary to go into issues like skimpy-tight clothes, inviting conduct, after thought on being exposed to family, blackmailing for money, etc.
  10. Whether punishment for rape to be reduced to minimum two years from the present 7 years for higher rate of conviction.
  11. Whether the seven persons who gang-raped Gurgaon victim mother of 3 year old son deserve to be babotised and would this punishment amount to ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ which is illegal
  12. Whether accused persons liable to punishment also liable to pay compensation to the victim.
  13. Whether paying capacity is a distinct separate issue from liability to pay.
  14. Can a public interest petition be filed in any Hon’ble High Court in writ jurisdiction for compensation and eradication of criminal activities.
  15. Can any other person or her friend/relation/Advocate in addition to or in place of the victim file such a PIL petition.
  16. For Gurgaon rape victim,, is the High Court P&H the only forum or she can approach Supreme Court directly.
  17. Can the victim alternatively or in addition also approach National Human Rights Commission at Delhi for compensation, etc.
  18. Why are both the National Women Commission and State Women and Child Commission weak and helpless. What is their role.
  19. Media follows pick & choose policy in highlighting victims and whenever it does victim gets relief. Can this role be adopted for social netizens.
  20. [20] What action to be taken against the beat constable for failing in his duty to expose and curb criminal activities within his assigned patrolling area. He is at the base of police corruption and the best whistle blower.

These questions need attention of every citizen particularly women on the net because answers and action taken would improve our social attitude and security environment. It can rescue women from getting into the net. More than heightened law enforcement need is for attitude change as propagated by Finance Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee in the Parliament on 15th March 2012 while speaking on the Economic Survey. Jai Hind.

"Due regard must be given to their (the rape victims') personal autonomy since in some cases, the victim may choose to marry the perpetrator or choose to give birth to a child conceived through forced intercourse." The statement was ironically made on the eve of International Women's Day.

He had also urged judges, lawyers and social activists "not to take an overtly paternalistic approach when they have to make decisions on the welfare of rape victims"


Making it jazzy for those who find it dreary news too depressing. Here are headlines from February alone of reports of violence against women at Maps4Aid website. Note that these are a small fraction of what's happening. To land up in the list:

  • Out of all crimes that happened, a certain number got reported to the police
  • Out of the number reported to police, news media picked some.
  • Out of the ones picked by news media, someone or the other noticed and submitted it to the site.
  • Out of all the submissions, these are the ones that have been put up.

And this list is only February. And no, February ain't over yet. We, as a country are in deep shit. Get it?

Bihar: CRPF Sub Inspector beats up newly wed bride and in laws.

Maharashtra: Godman arrested for kidnapping and raping mentally challenged girl.

Gujarat: 3 Youths break into house and rape 19 year old girl.

Bihar: Hostel owner held for rape attempt on a 13 year old physically challenged inmate.

Indore: 2 minor girls allegedly raped by at least 15 men in broad daylight.

Delhi: 10 Years in Jail for Police Constable who raped girl

Chennai: Spurned youth stabs 18 year old girl to death in T Nagar.

Delhi: 7 year old girl resists rape attempt by a close relative at a wedding.

Kerala: 20 cases registered after allegations of Sexual Harassment of tribal women.

Hyderabad: Dowry forces 21 year old MBA student, mother to rob

Bihar: CRPF Sub Inspector beats up newly wed bride and in laws.

Maharashtra: Godman arrested for kidnapping and raping mentally challenged girl.

Gujarat: 3 Youths break into house and rape 19 year old girl.

Bihar: Hostel owner held for rape attempt on a 13 year old physically challenged inmate.

Indore: 2 minor girls allegedly raped by at least 15 men in broad daylight.

Delhi: 10 Years in Jail for Police Constable who raped girl

Chennai: Spurned youth stabs 18 year old girl to death in T Nagar.

Delhi: 7 year old girl resists rape attempt by a close relative at a wedding.

Street Sexual Harassment: 20 year old Student saves sister from molesters, beaten up.

New Delhi: Minor girl commits suicide after being molested.

Man sent to jail for life for raping 6 year old niece. Directs Delhi Govt to pay INR 2 Lakhs compensation to victim.

Suspected case of Honour Killing in Hoshiarpur

11 year old girl in Surat molested by her school headmaster.

Astrologer held on molestation charges

Rewari: Youth gets 7 years in jail for raping minor girl on December 19, 2010.

Victim Speaks Up: Files Dowry Harassment case against husband and in laws.

Dowry: 24 year old Laxmi Mishra hangs herself to death in Maharashtra.

Dowry Harassment: Man gets life term for murdering wife in 2010.

Mother speaks up for daughter: College student raped, mom registers FIR

West Bengal: 28 year old woman kills self after MMS scandal

Chennai: Man sentenced to 5 years RI for subjecting his wife Nagavalli to cruelty with demands for dowry.

Tamil Nadu: Teacher suspended for molesting girl in School.

Bangalore: Police arrest 68 year old teacher accused of raping 12 year old student.

Coimbatore: Woman commits suicide after killing her two daughters.

Dowry Harassment: 28 year old Soni Kumar succumbs to burn injuries in Karnataka.

Police Constable booked for raping minor girl on pretext of marriage.

Kolkata: 19 year old girl attacked with blade on V Day by former boyfriend.

Irked over his love proposal being rejected, youth abducts and murders teenaged girl.

Karnataka: Youth held for kidnapping and physically abusing minor girl for over a month.

Aizwal: Man hacks 24 year old wife to death, lynched by mob.

Denied dowry, man allegedly forced wife to have sex with friends.

Delhi Police constable arrested on charges of molesting a minor girl.

West Bengal: Man beaten up for protesting against daughters harassment, dies.

8 year old victim raped and and left to die on railway tracks in Ghaziabad survives.

Delhi: 22 year old pregnant woman raped, 2 arrested.

Bangalore: 6 year old girl raped and murdered.

Delhi: Man gets death for killing 6 year old girl after raping her in August 2007.

Bellary: Teacher held for raping a Class VII student for over 6 months.

Rohtak: Police Constable booked for abducting and raping minor girl.

Hardwar: Women abducted and sold: Gang busted, two arrested.

Indore: 30 year old Ex policeman arrested for harassing Class 11 girl

17 year old girl abducted by two unidentified men while returning from work.

Delhi: 17 year old girl raped by two men in a moving car. 2 arrested.

Delhi: 13 year old girl abducted and raped. 3 Arrested.

After 5 years, Mother and son sentenced to life imprisonment in dowry harassment case.

Mumbai: 16 year old girl from sarni promised film roles, raped.

Police arrests man who stabbed partially blind woman for rejecting his marriage proposal.

Chennai: Boyfriend, 4 others rape 19 year old girl after spiking her drink.

New Delhi: Traffic cop gets two years for illegally detaining and assaulting a woman.

Faridabad: 23 year old woman gangraped. Case registered against the 4 accused.

Devda Village of jaisalmer, Rajasthan: India faces epic crisis of female infanticide

Police arrests husband who set ablaze his 3 month pregnant wife on fire.

Chhattisgarh: 13 year old girl thrown out of train after rape attempt.

Haryana: Man accused of raping teenager arrested.

Maharashtra: Man arrested for raping his 23 year old physically challenged sister.

Gujarat: Police arrests man who raped mother of boy who eloped with daughter.

Hubli: 22 year old pregnant woman Pavitra hangs self. Investigations on.

West Bengal: Man flees after stabbing his wife. Victim battling for life.

Sirsa: 3 awarded life term for harassing 5 month pregnant Kaushalya for dowry and driving her to commit suicide.

Honour killing in Uttar Pardesh village, father, brothers arrested.

Lucknow: 28 year old pregnant Rubeena beaten to death by her two brothers.

Balasore: Police arrest 4, rescue woman who was forced into flesh trade.

Tamana Puri Speaks up against Dowry harassment. Police register case against husband and in laws.

Court orders Bihar Govt to pay Interim relief of INR 5 Lakhs to rape victim.

Honour killing: 25 year old Navdeep Kaur and her lover shot dead by her brother.

Locals rescue two baby girls from a canal in Bawana area of Delhi.

22 year old jhansirani commits suicide. Father arrested for sexually abusing her.

Bangalore: Sub inspector arrested for slapping woman conductor.

Godman held for rape attempt and trying to rob the victim of her jewellery.

West Bengal: 7 month old baby girl found abandoned in train.

10 year old girl raped repeatedly by her employer. Accused arrested.

Dowry Harassment: 22 year old Monika choked to death in Chandigarh