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We failed as a society - not the first time

We are ashamed of ourselves - damn right, we should be

We will never forget - until the next time it happens again

And we fail, we feel ashamed and we forget

How about we try something different? How about we really show our elected govts how concerned we are and how desperate we are to address these concerns?

How about we stage a #NationalWalkout on April 23rd, Monday @ 10:00am?

What is a #NationalWalkout?

Simple answer is no matter where we are, who we are and what we are, we can just decide to walk as an individual or as a group, leaving aside whatever work we may be doing at that point in time

Walk to where?

If we are in the city, closer to the parliament or the state assembly hall, walk to that place

If we are not, we can walk to the nearest court or the nearest district headquarters or the nearest police station or nearest any office dealing with public welfare.

Why a NationalWalkout?

This is a problem concerning not just a village or a town or a city or a state or a child or an adult but a problem concerning an entire country and the entire humanity, because what we are witnessing is a rape of our consciousness.

Why April 23rd, Monday at 10:00am?

Its the following Monday giving us a weeks time to prepare and organize.10:00am because its the time when its not too early and not too late, but just about the right time to cause inconvenience to us and to send the message to our elected govts

What do we demand?

  1. No more victimization of the victims and the guilty should be punished
  2. Nirbhaya Law should be implemented in spirit

What after the Walkout?

We can chose to continue the fight and keep the pressure on the elected govt and may be even the rest of the political parties. Let this be the beginning of the end of our inaction and indifference.

What kind of preparation is required?

Prepare placards, banners, invite ministers, press, media, organize events around these themes and basically try and do everything to rally people and create pressure.

One week may be a bit aggressive for a #NationalWalkout, but may be it isn't after all - it may be a bit late.

Would it be worth it?

Remember the last time this happened, the result was the Nirbhaya act. Yes its another issue that the act itself is yet to be implemented, but without the public pressure, the law makers would not have done what they were forced to do. So yeah its totally worth trying, but one thing is for sure, if we don't do anything other trending on twitter or sharing on facebook, we are just fooling ourselves.

If this still doesn't convince you, I will let the data do the talking

520 kids all below 6 years of age were survivors of rape i.e. Five Hundred and Twenty. I repeat Five Hundred and Twenty. And if we include all the kids below 18 years, this number rises to 16863 i.e. Sixteen thousand eight hundred and sixty three.

  • 16863 children will carry these scars for the rest of their lives
  • 16863 children may never get justice and may never get a closure
  • 16863 children may never get a chance to heal their wounds
  • 16863 children and their loved one’s may forever try to move on, only to dragged into with every single incident that makes it to the news headline
  • 16863 children may never know what a normal childhood feels like, what growing up feels like
  • 16863 children may be living in constant fear for the rest of their lives

Girl-Child-Victims

22,205 women i.e. Twenty two thousand two hundred and five women. As these horrific numbers prove, rape crimes are beyond any age groups, beyond any cultural divides, beyond the norms of society – yes beyond the norms of society, since

Women-Rape-Victims

94.6% of the offenders are known to the rape survivors i.e. Ninety Four percent of the offenders are known to the rape survivors. Some of the offenders are family members who include grand fathers, fathers, brothers, sons, relatives and neighbors. Not implying everyone is an offender here, but what the data is proving, yet again, year after year, that the offenders are amongst us. They could be from our family, from our neighborhood, not some random person on the street and not some random person in a desolated place.

Offenders-Relation.PNG

So what is the police doing? Well, what can the police do? What can the police do when most of the cases don’t even get reported and even when they are reported, there are so many backlogs, the police can’t possibly afford to investigate the cases.

Police Cases

And what about the courts? Well, its no secret, the courts have been buried with cases pending from several years, in fact, several decades now.

Court Cases

Total-Rape-Victims

source: ncrb.gov.in

 

1

I tend to have very strong opinions, so my contempt for the increasing "stupidification" of India is hardly a secret. This is a cause for alarm, because it is indeed contagious. Political views, gender, caste, class, religion are not barriers to this epidemic. The reason for it is the natural human tendency to reply in the manner in which we are spoken to. I have brought this up before. If I say apple, you may say "oranges, pie, tree, cold weather, computer...." but you are unlikely to say, say for example, "spoon" - our mind tends to reply in a manner that is relevant to what it is that we are replying.

This is a problem when there is an overall process of radicalization, because those conditioned to thinking in a polarized mannerh will have a tendency to bring all conversation to their programmed triggers. The trap is already set. There are few responses that can be made at that level that won't derail you from the subject you wish to talk about. As a consequence, this conditioning spreads also to those who oppose it through sheer Pavlovian repetition. So a person questioning a liberal perspective may be a bhakt, a person questioning a feminist perspective may be a misogynist, and so on. The fundamental tendency proliferates on its own through sheer engagement with it. Whether in agreement or disagreement does not matter, as long as the nature of interaction is polarized.

It creates an unconscious conditioning of disagreement being seen as hostility or outright evil. Among both desiring to exclude or target specific identities or those wishing to exclude or target those who exclude or target specific identities. This is where we are today. This is why it is so difficult to prevent the increasing irrationality. Because those opposing the irrational views themselves get sucked into the whirlpool to the bottom of the IQ scale.

It is human nature to recognize our own view as the sane one and see the irrationality outside us.

However, if we examine the interactions we have, for quality, as opposed to morality, the problem is clear. We have gazed too long into the abyss and the abyss also gazes into us.

This, in my view is the real danger to the society, the country and the world. A departure from rational thought in the public space is a very alarming situation. The stupidification is a bigger threat to India long term than the violence and it has grown far more than either side of the polarization is able to recognize.

Fear is seductive. Our survival instincts condition us to pay attention to threats in order to survive. Hence, negativity - real or imagined - will always draw attention more easily than well being (there is nothing that needs urgent attention).

In my view, the bigger urgency today is to understand how we get sucked into talking about things we don't wish to through sheer Pavlovian conditioning. We need to develop skills to engage in rational debate and refuse to engage in irrational triggers derailing conversation to programmed tirades on political stands. The immediate danger may be violent mobs, but the larger long term concern is what caused so many people to think that such a stupid choice is a bright idea.

This is the result of fear. The fear that is used as a quick fix to compensate with paranoia what the agenda lacks in quality. We are surrounded by a culture of fear. Majorities are led to believe that minorities are somehow going to subjugate them. People who wouldn't quit smoking over health issues in the next decade would happily celebrate the murders of hundreds or thousands to "protect" themselves from that unlikely threat. The chances of dying in a road accident are higher, but they feel no fear about being in a vehicle. The point I am making here is anxiety is carefully built about specific subjects to turn them into threats for political profit. This is how Muslims being less than a fifth of the population and yet disproportionately underrepresented in jobs, education, housing and over represented in disadvantageous statistics like death tolls in communal crimes or being killed in state violence or being imprisoned without trial and so on, still results in a perception of Muslims as a threat.

It is like asking someone whether they have a pimple forming on their nose. They will touch their nose and examine the smallest hint of a bump and see it as proof that a problem pimple is indeed growing. It is how a stage magician may move his hand in a flourish while saying something in a dramatic manner, while the other hand palms a coin or scribbles a message for the audience to "discover" in full sight of the audience - and yet invisible. Because attention is focused elsewhere. People trying to figure out how the trick was done will continue to imagine that there was something about the flourish and want to examine sleeves and such, but fail to notice the other hand in full view doing the tricky part on the table. If you see enough TV programmes discussing the risk Muslims are to the country, you don't stop to ask why there is a need to discuss Muslims specifically. The unconscious conditioning to see them as a problem that needs to be resolved is already established through what is called a "false dilemma" or "false dichotomy", where you are presented with two choices as the only ones possible, making several illogical assumptions in the process.

If you were to see TV talk shows discussing daily whether apples were healthy at all, regardless of the discussions or conclusions, the fact that there was a need to evaluate the safety profile of apples specifically at all on a daily basis would have you avoiding apples and eating bananas or some other fruit to play it safe. In reality, there is no particular reason to discuss apples with such exceptional intensity. There is nothing wrong with discussing apples either. But the disproportionate attention given to evaluating their safety will make them appear to be unsafe even if discussion after discussion daily affirms after much debate that they are safe - because that affirmation is no conclusion, a new discussion will be required tomorrow - it is not safe. It is an ongoing threat. Better eat the orange. Now, if I sold bananas and wanted more people to switch from apples to bananas... would I have a reason to trigger such paranoia among those I want to manipulate?

This is an important part of propaganda - the delegitimizing of the targeted population. The questioning of every aspect of their existence and needing it to be proved harmless, while the rest of the population is very much similar but bears no scrutiny gives out its own message. The issue is not what these debates conclude. The fact that you devote 80% of TV debates to less than 20% of the population itself is its own signal to the population - here is something that needs you to be alert. The examination of every aspect of a part of the population as though they were aliens also serves another purpose - dehumanization.

Humans inherently are social animals and do not aspire to see themselves as vicious killers or attackers or those depriving others of basic human dignity. Mere differences cannot make a person be okay with inhumanity. For that, the target needs to be dehumanized. It has to be rendered to something less than human. A threat. Something so alien that it feels less pain than us, is more violent than us, is less deserving of compassion than us. This is where impunity for genocides is manufactured. We are in this cold blooded process. And we have no way to elevate the conversation. Partly because these conversations are carefully engineered to avoid targets being seen as humans, but also because those countering have no skills to set their own level of conversation and respond on the same level. Whether you don't talk to me or I don't talk to you, if the end result is a chasm, the objective is achieved.

This manipulated and deliberately propagated insanity is also the reason why there is an increase in violence - both physical and verbal. Violence is the last refuge of the illogical. When a person runs out of words to express their stand, they escalate to violence. As long as there is scope for presenting more and more of their perspective with words, there is no need for violence. But because the propaganda is inherently illogical, a person who believes it has no way of explaining it to one who doesn't, unless they make considerable effort to come up with enough logical fallacies themselves as well. Questioning then becomes a threat, because they are convinced of the threat to them from their targets and any questioning that could undermine it also becomes a threat.

To avoid increasing violence and hostility, we desperately need more clever and well planned conversations. We need the public to develop skills in assessing where their interests lie and when they are being manipulated toward prefering or avoiding something for reasons that are completely irrelevant to them and will likely harm them.

Long term, I think Darwin nailed it. The stupidification itself will erode the mental faculties of those depending on propaganda and with time give increasing advantage to those able to think through it. In the meanwhile, I suppose they will also have to learn how to survive till that point.

5

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. ~ Anatole France

Rights, like laws are determined by the powerful to address problems they face or allow actions they prefer and apply "equally" to all. These also happen to be those unlikely to prevent them from acting as they wish.

We seem to have reached an era where we "harvest" the power of hard won rights to ensure unfettered freedoms for some, while the most dangerous instances of suppressed rights continue to go under the radar.

To me, Charlie Hebdo appeared to be among such instances before the attack. Its right to free speech was largely protected by both laws and culture. There was little question of it not being allowed to have its range of free speech and that speech (in my opinion) was squandered on making a point of being offensive in a juvenile manner. I had earlier promised to publish the offensive cartoons (without seeing them) - regardless of Indian laws on the matter as a statement against violent and extra-judicial suppression of free speech. However, after seeing them, I am forced to limit myself to writing, as I honestly couldn't find anything funny about a star coming out of an ass - for example. My five year old son probably would (he even thinks farts are hilarious and breaks out laughing every time he hears one), but he doesn't blog here yet. Regardless, there is no question that free speech includes the right to be offensive as well as juvenile.

On another level, I am reminded of two recent rape cases to hit media courts - but not courts of law till the state took suo moto action in one. Both cases saw women well versed with women's rights and procedures and law after rape make no attempt to comply with the law by promptly undergoing medical tests or filing police cases. Both these women were unhesitatingly supported by more women's rights activists, lawyers and journalists, and yet the only action taken was public leaks of accusations that resulted in media character assassination campaigns that protected the identity of the victim and unquestioningly published accusations as fact in the manner of press releases and left no room for the accused to even speak in their own favor.

What I find common to both instances is empowered entities having full knowledge of their rights and using them to maximum effect, exercising their freedoms with little responsibility beyond knowing own rights.

In a world where battered and bleeding women showing monumental courage walking into police stations to file rape charges get denied, in a world where states silence dissent or target communities on the basis of identity, to exercise rights in a manner that flaunts their potential to hurt innocents has a very predictable backlash that questions the necessity of the right to exist at all without limitations.

The more insults are heaped on religion for the sheer joy of insulting, the more are voices disturbed by indiscriminate hurt caused demanding a leash. The more women flaunt the unequal protections granted to protect the voiceless many women routinely denied justice, the more misogynists claim that women use the law to punish men and there are few cases of real justice. It also seems a bit farcical to me to claim massive trauma from a fleeting incident the victim did not attempt to avoid a repeat of, in a country where marital rape (often painful and repeated) is not just common but perfectly legal and the women continue to function, while living within easy reach of their rapists (who enjoy complete impunity) without any crippling trauma recognizable to outrage brigades. It is also a country where no particular effort is visible to insist on justice for cases that are not young professional women, low caste, outside cities (particularly Delhi) and so on. And cases are cherry picked to be sensitive to, with little uniformity of importance for cases across the spectrum the crime covers.

Similarly, we see targeting for race as wrong, so why is targeting for religion a right? Similarly, in France, why is banning of specific headgear only for Muslim women wrong, but ridiculing the religion right? It is hardly a secret that your free speech won't extend to pedophilia - even if the pedophile is staunchly against child rape and insists on consent. Who went and decided that children don't have the free speech to consent to sex? For that matter, why are violent rape porn or child rape porn CARTOONS illegal, when obviously no one got harmed in making them? Why is a person who praises the attack on Charlie Hebdo or defends it "supporting terrorism" as opposed to merely exercising free speech to express an opinion? Is it that there is someone sitting up there deciding what should offend us and what shouldn't? Is it that this "righteous offense" is determined unilaterally by some entity that is no more accepting of "free speech" than a religious person, but remains unquestioned? Will we some day see a cartoon ridiculing someone who demands a ban on child rape porn cartoons? Yes these examples are "offensive" - we are discussing a right to offend, right?

This is not to say that exercising rights is wrong. It cannot be wrong and must never be leashed. However, there appears to be disproportionate utility or access to rights that is troubling.

For example, another way the Charlie Hebdo attack reminded me of rape was the motive for the crime being "provocation".

There is a perpetual conservative response that blames the victim and recommends not offending. In effect, creating a right to be offended. On the other hand, the offense being social, the mere upholding of rights does little to prevent unjust and illegal retaliation. Those at risk must strike their own balance between continuing to enjoy their rightful freedoms and exercising caution. Regardless of who is at fault, it is the life of the victim that ends up devastated or lost altogether. There is bravery in bold stands, but there is nothing wrong with installing a phone app that allows you to instantly broadcast an SOS - for example.

Less discussed is the willingness to risk the safety of another. Just because a woman should have the right to travel in the city alone at all hours (and you would do it as a ringing statement of your freedom), would you ask a woman employee or relative to travel alone at night in .... Delhi - for example? I suspect the day is not far that publishers of content that can trigger a violent backlash will consider the potential risk of the editorial stance to employees or others tasked to protecting their lives.

While even empowered women are long used to compromising freedoms for safety and finding ways to exercise rights when they really matter rather than making risk a way of life regardless of importance of goal; the question of free speech remains stuck on absolutes that depend on the world comprehending specific ideals and respecting them. This is not a criticism of any choice - they are all our right and our safety is our right regardless.

There is also a need to include more voices on what we agree on as rights. While I believe that free speech and particularly the right to challenge entrenched bastions of authority (including government and religion) must be sacrosanct, my belief in democracy also forces me to accept that like any other participant in a democracy, I have no special right to have my specific preferences met and those contradicting it, overruled. I would rather prefer to dig in my heels on those saving lives and rights. I also believe it is more important that free speech or women's rights (or indeed any other rights - women's rights is just an example) not be trivialized in a manner that shakes popular support to crucial, life and death need. In my eyes, the need to prevent the suppression of expression of religious belief through attire trumps the need to allow juvenile, racist crudery that effectively deems large swathes of humanity as inferior. In my eyes, it is more important that Saudi Arabia flogging a blogger be fought - with international pressure, if need be; than the right to stereotype and demean people.

I don't dispute that these are rights and can and will be exerted in a whole range of ways that will be as diverse as there are people. What I am suggesting is that uniformity and equality demands that we understand the variations in urgency and ensure basic rights and freedoms more equally before allowing free rein to a few disproportionate voices. Perhaps there is also a question of why some kinds of radicalization is unacceptable while other kinds of radicalization are free speech. After all, having a near cult following for juvenile insults to all sorts of diverse cultures cannot be all that different from seeing your religion as the only true one and discriminating against others. Except that the "holy book" of the "religion of offending as a means of creating enlightenment" is illustrated and easier to read.

That said, because Charlie Hebdo faced the attack, upholding its right to free speech now becomes paramount, as opposed to merely supporting the right to free speech of yet another kind of religious fundamentalism.

There is also a need for believers of all religions who do not support violence to not blame the actions that "provoked" the criticism by enacting the religion in a manner that brings it disrepute. What Islam (or Hinduism in India) "really" is becomes irrelevant if it manifests as a danger to others. Religious people need to recognize that it isn't their humanitarian description getting insulted and avoid providing smokescreens to criminals by making it about themselves. Violent fanatics conducting cold, premeditated murders while yelling "Allah hu Akbar" or "Jai Shri Ram" are not a figment of the imagination of someone who likes to harass peaceful people. It is time to accept that there are people who enact your religion in ugly ways without your permission and either be okay with it or join the criticism of your own religion for not being enacted in a manner compatible with what you believe it "really" is. Jumping into the fray as victims without interpretation you endorse being criticized only implies that you will allow crimes in the name of your religion and are defending them. This helps no one. Least of all your religion.

What happened at the Charlie Hebdo premises was ugly, tragic and unwarranted - plain wrong. It was a crime and this article makes no attempt to justify it. The intent is only to dig in deeper to a level where we are able to find dialogue that goes beyond camps of "people like us" with "preferences like ours" to uphold. If it manages to engage people into deeper dialogue on what comprises free speech and attempts to find agreement across a wider range of humanity, perhaps over time we may find ways to strengthen and deepen the manifestation of rights - beyond merely being accepted as ideals - to a point where all are strengthened and conversations fuel enlightenment rather than provocation or outrage.

4

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.

Vidyut

This is with regard to Vrinda Grover's facebook post as well as assorted defenders of Tejpal's poor, helpless victim, which I cannot comment on individually to engage in debate, so I am choosing to respond here.

To clarify my stand with regard to this case, I do not know Tarun Tejpal personally, have never even corresponded with him or Shoma Chaudhary. Maybe I made a few tweets to Shoma on Twitter criticizing something - I don't recall. That is the extent of my being "friends" with them. This blog has over a dozen articles questioning the media bias on this case. Not a single one of them claims that Tejpal is innocent or even says the victim is lying. My points are:

  1. I believe there is a concerted effort to present this case in a unidimensional and unambiguous manner. This violates my right to accurate information through news media.
  2. It is not respectful of my country, its laws or women's rights in general to rig a case through media in this manner.

I do not understand how it is a media trial to raise questions about an issue that was originally raised through organized promotion of selective leaks of confidential communication and judged in media. It is a response, not initiation of a trial. If a lie was told in media, it must be responded in media. The media supari tactics of hit and run reporting are not ethical in my view. The trial was initiated by the halo-dharis and judged in media and not just Tejpal, but his family and organization suffered before a judge ever saw this case.

That the original complaint that put this man in jail for four months mentions forced entry into lifts on separate occasions - neither of which are evident on CCTV footage is most certainly relevant to anyone following the case in media who knows it for a "fact" that the victim was physically pulled into the lift - based on the victim's own statement. Not to mention your oh so feminist media (it turns out wrongly) reporting that the CCTV footage confirmed the victim's complaint.

What is basically happening here is a widespread outrage about a media trial verdict of "guilty" being questioned - parading as outrage over "rape apology". I challenge anyone to show any publication with any kind of credibility that has called Tejpal innocent. I can show thousands that call him guilty. No one has commented on victim's character or such, but there is an abundance of coverage of Tejpal's business dealings, a comment made in another year altogether and more to create a perception of his character. So let us not get sanctimonious about media trials when all the "rape apology" that anyone has ever done is questioned the black and white nature of information actively perpetrated and aggressively enforced in public domain - incidentally information put forth by the victim's supporters or the victim herself - without redacting the victim's name, since we are suddenly fussy about these things.

Has the victim complained a single time that her private emails were distributed by someone who disclosed her identity? This is not just a disclosure of her identity, it is a violation of her privacy on an extremely serious matter - far more serious than a description of CCTV footage away from the scene of the rape - unless she authorized it. No objection by victim? Why not? She is fine with graphic details of her trauma published, but relatively ordinary descriptions of getting in and out of lifts - that do not mention her identity in any manner and in fact don't even mention the mild violence of pulling her in that she described? Who are we fooling here?

The CCTV footage has been shown to many carefully identified and selected persons in the media and other influential and powerful persons, by family and a close coterie of friends of Tarun Tejpal.

Well, why wouldn't they, if they believe Tejpal to be a victim of a massive campaign against him and have what they believe is evidence that proves his innocence? That the footage is not recklessly released, but selectively shown indicates (to me) that the intent is not to make the footage public, but to simply get the point out to the wider public that the allegations are not as black and white as they have already been reported - it is a correction of a public opinion and as part of the "public" who gets strategically incited to outrage, it is public right to know what our voice fuels. Or the whole thing should have been taken to court without involving public outrage as leverage.

This is in violation of the law and the order of the court. Yes the family has a right to defend Tarun Tejpal, but not by committing unlawful and illegal acts.

I am not a lawyer. Can someone explain how it violates law and order of the court? As far as I am aware, there is no gag on the case, other than the voluntary selective one by media. The family may have done it to defend Tejpal, but none of the reporting says he is innocent. This is more neutrality than the supposed feminists have been able to manage - that too in a heavily prejudiced situation.

I would like Vrinda Grover to explain how Tejpal's family has done unlawful and illegal acts, because such allegations have been used to deny bail in hearings.

The young woman journalist does not have a copy of the CCTV footage.

This is pathetic, Vrinda Grover. From Indian feminists fighting for the right of women to have access to evidence in their own case, the lack of access to the victim is being peddled as some kind of standard to deny factual information of a very public case being known to public. Also, the public has not got a copy of the CCTV footage. Only a description. Not even seen it.

Also, the victim may not have a copy of the footage, but the victim has seen the footage before her statement to the magistrate. She is not unaware of what it contains, as Vrinda Grover seems to be trying to lead the reader to believe. The victim changed some details from her original complaint after seeing the footage - which, before anyone accuses, I am not holding against her in any manner. It is common to be fuzzy on details after trauma. I am simply mentioning that she has seen it clearly enough to be able to find it useful for her statement.

I have not seen the CCTV footage. No one who has taken a public or private position asking for justice for the young woman journalist and demanded a fair trial, not prejudiced or overawed by the campaign conducted by the Tarun Tejpal gang, has seen the CCTV footage.

In other words, the whole circus gunning for Tejpal is taking the victim's accusations as fact and is not interested in any information to the contrary. For the record, I too haven't seen the footage and I too want justice for the victim. Only my definition of justice is not "What the victim says" but what actually happens in courts of law - which has been pre-rigged with massive media campaigning, so hope for my definition of justice is rather dim at the moment - regardless of who is guilty or innocent. The case has been botched beyond belief by the evangelists of "whatever the woman says" as women's rights.

We are not supposed to see that footage because it reveals the identity of the woman journalist. That is the law. 

I am a mere blogger, not a lawyer, but this seems like deliberate disinformation to me. Disclosing the identity of the victim on media is illegal. It is beyond absurd to say that those who KNOW the identity of the victim cannot see the footage because it REVEALS the identity.

Is the woman insane or merely trying to con the public into continuing to believe this "campaign for justice and fuck the law"?

For all those getting suckered into this crap, remember the countless interviews of victim's families, including reporters informing neighbours that the victim was raped because they were dumbfucks enough to want comments about her for TRP laden crap. That sleaze is unethical, but still not illegal till they reveal victim's identity ON MEDIA.

Yes we must debate issues and cases of public importance.

Here is a question I would like Vrinda Grover and gang to reply to. As a feminist, if you have supported a man being thrown into jail for violating a woman, is the woman's complaint allegedly being provably wrong in critical areas your responsibility to investigate and clarify your stand on or should a woman making accusations be supported unconditionally and exclusively always?

On each ocassion the friends and family of Traun Tejpal have orchestrated a media capaign against the young woman journalist. The entire campaign hinges on the 'young woman's character', which when decoded means the same old thing, her past sexual relationships.

This is slander about Tejpal's family. To the best of my knowledge, the first bail was denied when the victim claimed to be intimidated by the visit of Tiya Tejpal to her mother. Incidentally a visit the victim thanked Tiya for on the night before complaining. The second bail was denied when Tejpal was accused of intimidating his Investigating Officer - incidentally, this is not recorded in either the investigation records or the chargesheet. Miraculously claimed only during the bail hearing and forgotten since. After that, the victim claimed that photos of her were circulated by Tejpal's family. To the best of my knowledge, most of these forwards went to original recipients of the press release email leaks. I obtained one from a journalist and it turned out to be an image publicly available on the Think festival website. Now the cyber police are on a wild goose chase trying to find out which anonymous account emailed a publicly available image (that was later taken down) to intimidate the victim - must be Tejpal's family. Then you have the mobile phone found on Tejpal even though he was officially allowed STD calls at that point (got revoked after that incident). Then I lost interest.

Can you explain how these are "orchestrated media campaigns about her character"? I have been following this case from the start. First out of outrage, then when I smelled a media rat and thought someone should raise a counter narrative. I don't have many contacts, but I managed to connect with some ex-Tehelka journalists, Tiya Tejpal and some others. So far, the victim's character is not an issue I ran into in spite of actively seeking information. I still have no idea what her character is like. I know who her boyfriend is - from her own letter. So can you describe the method of this campaign and who its audience was if someone seeking information did not run into it? Or are these campaigns also like the photo intimidation? Circulating mainly among those who got original email leaks?

Is it a coincidence that these articles appear at a juncture when a bail petition will be moved for Tarun Tejpal in the Supreme Court.

No idea, but I can definitely say, accusations about Tejpal's family intimidating victim, disclosing her identity, breaking laws are being presented in time for a bail hearing. As usual.

I firmly believe that undertrials have a right to bail. However the jails are overcrowded with an undertrial population that is disproportionately POOR.

Right. Again that nice "feminist" concept of some people not getting rights being used as an excuse to deny rights you claim to usually support. Twice in one article. Not bad.

Where the accused persons can threaten witnesses, or tamper with evidence or use their position to cause prejudice to a fair trial, their liberty is constrained through denial of bail. We do not have a witness -victim protection mechanism that offers any real security to the complainants and so at times bail should be refused.

What is this intimidation? The victim claims a visit she thanked for was intimidation. An anonymously sent, publicly available photo was intimidation specifically by Tejpal's family. The investigating officer was "intimidated" by Tejpal. None of these describe any specific actions of threat from Tejpal or family directed at her. Though of course I am not naive enough to imagine these would be done publicly, but at least where exposed, they would describe how the intimidation happened?

'Going by the powerful people theory, let us assume Tejpal is indeed an intimidator with great power. Surely his being in jail wouldn't make the victim safer if he has "reach"? On the other hand, if he is out of jail, wouldn't it be one reason less to intimidate the victim (that is, if someone can explain how intimidation can cause bail to begin with unless the victim is the judge too)?  Logic says, intimidation will deny bail, not cause it - like Vrinda Grover is arguing.

Another problem with the intimidation theory is that the victim holds no power to free Tejpal. The case against him has not been filed by her to begin with. She was refusing anyway. Suppose she got successfully intimidated. What would she do? She can hardly deny her allegations as they are in writing in public domain as well as in court records and statements in front of magistrate. As long as the allegations exist, she can do nothing. What would intimidating her achieve other than denial of bail - which is already happening?

We live in a real world where power, influence and position, can and does manipulate and subvert and truth. It appears that at times these results can be achieved even when the person is in custody.

This sounds more like a threat than a concern, considering that so far, all the media trials have happened against Tejpal and with active role by mega news channels. The supposedly all powerful Tejpal has been unable to defend his rights at times (including visits by family, pen and paper or news media neutrality), let alone getting out of jail or sabotaging the case. Even the victim's description of Tejpal's daughter's actions were not verified with the daughter - in spite of the victim's letter saying that she confronted Tejpal on victim's behalf - before being published in newspapers that Tejpal's daughter claimed to have seen Tejpal acting in an inappropriate manner with another woman when she was 13. Something Tiya flat out denied saying. Her visit to the victim's mother was painted in media as intimidation without bothering to seek the other side of the story at all.

The CCTV footage is hardly the only hole in this mega justice story. It is merely another straw. What of the verifiable facts of the email have stood to verification other than those she herself told her witnesses? Tiya denies how she had been described in the emails. Tiya claiming innocence on her visit to victim's mother is supported by the email by the victim herself. Descriptions of pulling by Tejpal are not backed by CCTV footage in a single instance (to even be remembered wrongly) according to reports.

You think the public whose outrage over "facts" helped put a man in jail has no right to know the status of the "facts" that triggered their outrage?

In contrast, the supposedly intimidated victim has people either staunchly declaring she is the victim and Tejpal is guilty or at best saying there is more to the case than the black and white narrative painted in media. Yet apparently it is Tejpal's family manipulating and subverting truth. Maybe they are conspiring to keep him in jail? Strange, suicidal strategies could learn a lesson or five here. Like "how to get free accommodation from the government by breaking law before pretending to apply for bail" or something.

Even as the law stands by, as a mere spectator, indifferent to its promise to protect the woman's dignity.

The woman's dignity was paraded by her well wishers in media when they printed a distraught rape victim's potentially inaccurate and angry emails word for word and treated them as the complete truth needing no verification. THAT is what is causing the victim to lose her dignity when the narrative does not tally up, not any mega conspiracies. The victim was distraught, but her advisers and media exploited her experience for maximum drama, and when the story gets holes, someone is a spoilsport. How dare his family not let him sit quietly in jail and rain on our parade? If more holes appear, this vicious lot will turn on the victim, quite forgetting that the victim herself did not do more than a complaint within the organization and it was them that treated every word without verification as total fact because it would put a "sensational" man in jail.

The victim's dignity was paraded by her supposed friends who stayed completely quiet on the violation allowing a repeat and still staying quiet leaving potential for more repeats. The victim's dignity was paraded by the people who sent out email forwards with graphic details of her trauma complete with her real identity and email. The victim's dignity was paraded when she failed to register even a token protest of extremely private conversation being leaked to media - thus confirming that it was deliberate. The victim's dignity was paraded when her "well wishers" - ALL of them familiar with law, women's rights and procedures after rape either failed to convince her to report her rape and go to a hospital immediately to get tested, but instead participated in a media tamasha starring her experience. Who suddenly think description of CCTV footage is somehow more violating of her rights than her intimate trauma splashed across front pages nationwide that THEY FANNED WITH ALL THEIR RESOURCES.

Who the heck are we kidding here?

What is happening is an organized intimidation of any attempt to question an organized black and white narrative. This includes supposed free speech activists suddenly happy about Outlook and Citizen getting notices for reporting that breaks no laws, discloses no identities.

The sad part is the victim may indeed be wronged, and the inconsistencies with her complaint may be memory issues. She may be wrong in adding some details deliberately or inadvertently, but making an honest complaint of violation. Or she may be totally fake on the other hand (unlikely), But this is no longer about her. By taking her words and treating them as cannon, media itself has vested them with enough credibility and power to be taken word for word as proof of crime and inconsistencies will only highlight the difference between the reality being uncovered, and the one that is comprehensively enforced in media to the point of mere saying that there is more to the case is called a "rape apology". The absolute character media invested in those leaked emails will haunt the victim, because inconsistencies will raise questions on how unverifiable parts can be trusted, when inaccuracies in reporting are hardly a new phenomenon.

At the end of the day, the victim will be used as far as she is useful keeping Tejpal out of commission and ditched ruthlessly denied of credibility for a real complaint she filed because she ended up being held accountable for a media agenda and taken onto a turf where the charges were determined by media, the judicial process was brought about by the media, and the media doesn't lose. It simply moves to the next shiny headline. The damage to her case from media exaggerations/emphasis will be paid for by the victim in credibility.