Social networking is still considered to be a bane for crowd-sourced anti-establishment movements in some Islamic/Dictatorial countries, but in India however, the over-reaching power of the liberal media more than makes up for this.
When the rape of the 23-year-old student from Delhi occurred 10 days ago, the simmer had reached to a boil and young India took to the streets. Lots of other concerned parties soon rallied behind their cause, from anxious parents to worried brothers’ right up to the hop-on-the-bandwagon political parties.
All of them (barring the political outfits maybe) seemed to have a single agenda – “This Madness Must stop”!! So they marched en-mass to India gate and the story still continues …
Meanwhile leading channels across the nation condemned the rape in expected fashion, hosting feminists, ardent activists, former victims and even politico’s from across the wide spectrum. In the midst of this din, a few voices caught the angst of many, especially those of the sub inspectors in Delhi’s NCR.
“Ladkiya ek seemit daire main, seemit kapdon main nahi niklengi… to apne aap khichaon ho jata hai. Wo khichaon bhi aggressive kar deta hai ki kar do bas (If girls don’t stay within their boundaries, if they don’t wear appropriate clothes, then naturally there is attraction. This attraction makes men aggressive, prompting them to just do it).” – Sub-Inspector Arjun Singh, SHO Surajpur Police Station, Greater Noida
Similar sentiments were echoed by many of his peers in the capital. Then just about a day ago came this bolt out of nowhere about the students in the rally: –
“Those who are coming in the name of students in the rallies, sundori, sundori mahila (beautiful women), highly dented and painted. Giving interviews in TV and showing off their children. I wonder whether they are students at all,” he said, adding, “what’s basically happening in Delhi is something like pink revolution, which has very little connection with ground realities” – Abhijit Mukherjee (son of Pranab Mukherjee)
In a democracy when everyone deserves their right to be heard, these lone voices headed straight into the headwinds of national rage. Blogs along with their mile long comment-lists were found moments after these statement were made ridiculing these viewpoints for all they’re worth and on some occasions apologies had to be rushed to avoid embarrassment.
As ill-advised (or as some of us may even term – Sick) as these opinions may be, they do deserve a voice. However the present day climate deprives them of one. This is mainly because the present day media in India is almost entirely: Liberal. A majority of the news anchors are liberal, the guests invited to their shows are liberal and in almost all the episodes of Barkha Dutt’s signature “We The People”, the public are by large liberal. Any outsider with opposing views, sitting among them is spared no olive branch but given a sermon from the podium.
Most western countries, the US, Canada and even Britain have conservative news channels. America is famous for its Fox News Channel (Conservative). Bill O’ Reilly, the anchor of the famous ‘The O’Reilly Factor‘, Glenn Beck and not to mention Rush Limbaugh are some of the far right wingers who feature occasionally on the Channel.
At the height of the abortion debate in the US in 2012, conservatives were speaking both their heart and mind out on Fox Channel. Apart from men, there were mothers and single women who were also speaking out against the controversial topic of allowing abortions caused by rape.
A Conservative Channel actually plays a key role in politics. All one needs to do is to leave the bustling Tier 1 Cities in India and head out towards the Tier-2 Cities and the towns located in rural India and you would hear a different kind of rhetoric. The fear that we are loosing our identity and culture even as we westernize at market speed is their biggest concern. Despite the spread of Satellite TV across the countries, rural India still remains locked in their own traditional ways of thinking. For them, a women’s place is rightfully at home, as a home-maker, and anything beyond that is deemed unthinkable and punishable in the worst possible manner.
Then there is the conservative class in Middle India who is (for some strange reason) perennially in the closet. These are folks who have been exposed to varying tastes of different culture’s but still feel, (like many from rural India) that the openness that our society today gives women has crossed the red line.
In the absence of a conservative news Channel, the liberal’s will keep driving prime time discussions and the conservatives would have to be content playing mild audience. Of course, their hope is that the pressure applied from different angles would eventually force a government cave-in and that may already be happening.
The problem with this approach is that although we may have a deterrent for rape, the root of the problem where the gangrene sets in is still left unattended to. The need for gender sensitization needs to be done right from the time children are in school. Boys need to be sensitized to the fact that in the world live in today, girls are equal partners and deserve as much of the pie on the table as they do. Traditional stereo-type views about women that have prevailed till date need to be rethought. The future of a grown woman should be her own prerogative and no one else’s and this by far is a sore point that most of the conservative milieu are still coming to terms with.
But for this change to happen, this ideological battlefield needs to be bridged. Posturing at the extreme ends helps no one and causes more pain. Here is where a conservative channel would help. A Conservative Channel could give these closet conservatives a chance to be heard. Only when they’re heard can we try to build a bridge between these 2 disparate worlds.
Being a liberal myself I realize how frustrating it is sometimes to find myself occasionally in the center of a crowd of right-wing conservatives in a heated discussion. But like it or not, their concerns, need to be heard as well, and the time has now come .. India Needs a Fox.