August 25, 2011

The Untold Stories of Modern Social Activists

Media goes blind at times, shuts its eyes to things which it conveniently ignores. On the other hand, its radar doesn't leave anything that catches the public, especially those which in someways carries a celebrity aura. Anna Hazare is the focus now and Ramlila Maidan is flooded with crane-mounted cameras keeping the vigil not to miss any snap of the ongoing drama. Leading national television channels and the press media have been busy covering the Anna saga extensively, digging out the history, from the origin to the 9th date of fasting of the Gandhian.

Media hypes the Anna Hazare movement

There isn't any event in the recent past, not anywhere in the reach of our memory since the beginning of modern journalism, where we saw a social activism being covered in this vigor and passion. All is well and said about the Anna movement and the huge amount of hype surrounding, it's not an attempt to judge the rights and wrongs about the present uprising, rather a genuine effort to present those feeble voices and fading images forgotten, unheard and untold by our 'so-called' liberal, unbiased and impartial media.

Irom Sharmila

Iron Lady of Manipur

Justice has never shown mercy to Sharmila, not even the vestiges of mercy have reached her in a decade. The 'Iron Lady of Manipur' has been on hunger strike from November 2000 demanding the Indian government to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The draconian rule have been haunting the people in Manipur and the unlimited powers of the armed forces have resulted in countless human right violations in the North Eastern region. The strict enactment of AFSPA can narrate stories of brutality that smells blood and hundreds of lives have become the victims of it over the years. When Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev can make headlines with their means of protests, it's shocking to see the media apathy at its worse in Sharmila's case where the fragile lady is at her deathbed fighting for a cause that is long ignored by the government which apparently is waiting for another martyr.

Swami Nigamananda

Swamy Nigamananda died for river Ganges

More than 100 days of fasting for a cause that is common for all - a desperate attempt to save the river Ganges, the result of which was death for Swamy Nigamananda. He fought to put an end to the illegal mining and stone crushing along the Ganga near Haridwar but the pitiless media indifference made his protest a low-profile one and he could make it to the news only with his death. The 34-year-old noble fighter began his fast on February 19 of this year and was forcibly moved to a hospital in the month of April as his condition worsened. He was later transferred to another hospital where he went into a coma and a few days later he breathed his last breath. This is a perfect example of the media culture which celebrated the death of a just man but not his cause for which he laid down his life.

Farmers Killing

Farmers Killing shows the state brutality

Ironically we say India lives in the villages and villages are the soul of India; however, our villages are the easy targets of the rulers. They have been robbed off their homes, their lands, possessions and are denied the right to grieve. Many an incident to cite, but the killings in Forbesganj in Bihar exposed the brutality of the police force where four people were shot dead including a baby child and a pregnant woman. Reportedly the police began firing indiscriminately at the group of people who staged a protest against the illegal blocking of a road connecting the village to the outside by a private company. The cold-blooded murder by the state police never became a headline in the national media and its strange muteness explains the apathy.

The unexplained silence of mainstream media over such issues kills the trust of common man in the media. Not to undermine the role of media in the society, but we do not see a reason to hope for an end of this painful media apathy. However, it's high time that the media should put an end to its willful ignorance of common man and the crazy keenness for celebrities.

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