Dead Men’s City

When I chose the title “Dead Men’s city,” I was both skeptical and scarred to use it. But, in the hindsight, I think just apt and perfect for the situation. As a human being, I am ashamed of what has happened in Guwahati just a week ago. A girl was assaulted and molested by a bunch of hooligans in the heart of the city. And, there goes a media channel and, an array of media stories to follow, to air this gruesome act. Yes, you will agree, as like any reasonable person, that the sense of justification and reasoning of airing such a video only displays the lowest journalistic ethos. But, we should not ignore, especially in a consumerist society, that the media, which is a reflection of the society that we live, is driven by market forces and people find it amusing (?) to watch such barbarism on television channels. There is a sense of urgency in this particular incident. This is a welcome step and the guilty should be brought to justice.

Now, I have a very unusual or, if I can use the word, controversial question to it. Why is it that we have woken up only now? Why is it that when the incident was shown on national television that people are hitting the street to demand justice? Why are we doing all that we can for this case? Why are we not shammed to death for any other, unreported incident but widely known among people, cases of molestation? People are questioning the ethics of the media. This is good. But are we questioning our own sense of morality and ethics? Do we question our conscience when we may have ignored such an incident? Can we lay hands on our souls and tell the truth to our own self. You got your answer. That is where we can call our selves hypocrites.

Thanks to media, we are seeing the exposed value system of our society. We are only shouting our voice when we were shammed in public. We have lost our face and we are facing questions from people who would haunt us for our boasting claim to fame about women dignity in Assam. However, we also knew that this is not entirely true. With those disturbing images doing rounds across the country and the world, we are running for covers. We dont know how we will continue to live in the fake blown-up-beyond-proportion ego of culture and social identity that is long dead. We are still drawing inspirations to boast about a cultured society from a bunch of sacred heroes who are increasingly getting diminished from the moral map of the present society.

All that we love to do is to jump the bandwagon and remain loyal to the ‘way of social conformity.’ As we increasingly compromise our own identity, I wonder if we, as a society, will have another hero in near time. It’s appalling that we are starving for heroes and we shy away vehemently to ignore such a reality. We love to live in a world of myth and materialistic bling. We are hardly bothered about what goes out there as long as I am ‘safe.’ This atypical idiosyncrasy of the present society has led me to question us. Where do we stand as a society?

Till the time, it was not aired in the national television, this incident has not insulated such a reaction. Because we love our fake identity and take magnanimous pride in it, this incident shammed us or we are shammed because that the lie that we live in is exposed in front of the world. The foundation, the mascara and the kajal of the society were washed away by this tragedy and the aging wrinkles and horrific scars of our society lay exposed. We dont know what to do or how to go back to our old fake self. We are challenged.

Consumerism and materialism has so much consumed our society that even our values and reputation need to be kicked hard so that it can wake up. Today, sadly, even one’s individual self respect and ethics are driven by market forces. Because it will have negative impact on the overall reputation of the society we  should now join in. All that we care about today, is a good marksheet so that one can get admitted to Delhi University (Let the Assam education system go to hell), get a job in an MNC (let the entrepreneurial kick die), get a trophy wife (who cares about love anymore, we need someone who can mingle with my social class), get a car (because its not only about commuting anymore) and a home as early as possible (because I can move to a bigger house on a bigger loan on a later date). In our mad rat race, we forgot to think about our surrounding and ignore the catastrophic implication that it may have on our individual personal lives, our own identity (provided we have one) and an honour (if we care to own it).

With passing days, we will get back to the machine, that we love to log on to, and keep on doing things that were being done. We will post a “RIP” if some elderly looking gentlemen dies without recognizing the contribution that he had towards the society. This is how we remain true to the ‘Conformity Movement’ and we will come out on the street wearing black T Shirt (because we love Metallica) only when its not too shiny or hot to walk out, is a Sunday and more importantly our fake image is not tarnished and our dirty liens are not washed in front of the nation. Otherwise, we are doing just fine and we are happy with the shopping malls, swanky cars and bikes and five star hotels. Who talks about Assamese language, or its identity? Face of protest? Kalaguru Bishnuprasad Rabha, Ambikagiri Raichowdhury? Who are they? They are passe. We are talking about the changing the world, bringing communism by wearing black, man. Heck! How about Ernesto, oh! Sorry! Che Gueverra? He is kind of cool to be worn.

 Are we living in a Dead Men’s Society? I am. Dont know about you. Just pinch yourself and you will get your identity. If I sound stupid, its ok.


When death is not News worthy!

Even when people die in an accident, and even when people in hundreds are feared dead, even then the media in the country may not take this into consideration. Why? The answer to this question is very tough to reply and it is very subjective to understand.

Today, media is just like any other industry. It is nothing but reflection of our society. As the rat race speed up in the society, it is bound to happen that it will be seen in most of the sections of the society. What makes it interesting is the hypocrisy that underlines such phenomenon? Or, is it a confusing state of mind?

Media earns its market by reaching to maximum number of people. It’s business nature may be categorized as an Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). More people read it, more the newspaper will thrive, more it will earn its capitalistic bonuses in every part of the society. So, as a pragmatic approach, to cater to the maximum number of audience, to reach to the maximum number of people, it is required that they report what people like to read.

Now, what does a person like to read? He will first like to read about his own home, his state, his people. No matter what we say about India as a diversified yet united, people, on ground, remain true to their roots. There is nothing wrong in it as I also belong to this category. And, I think its much better than those small section of so called ‘intellectual’ class who thinks that world is flat and we are one. Rubbish!

Once they know that everything is usual, and nothing untoward has happened, its time for some entertainment. Be it Cricket, be it bollywood, be it gossip, be it blah, people love to read them and feel good about it. We may reject it on the face of it but we do derive a guilt pleasure of reading them without getting caught.

And now comes the third part of the news report are news from far flung areas of the world which the reader may be interested to know. It may not be necessary that it will satisfy him about his curiosity as why Guwahati is not a state, but a capital of Assam, or Assam is not the only state in the entire north east India. Oh! Let me turn on to international politics and see if Hollande will defeat Sarkozy. Did he took funds from Gaddafi to run for elections? It will be a shame for Mr Sarkozy if it turns out to be true. Oh! I am so worried about French people.

But what about those 100 ill fated passengers of a boat that capsized in one of the most ferocious rivers in the world, the Brahmaputra? What about that inquisitiveness & love for others that was so overwhelming to some distant land? Yes, media reports them because this is what people like to read. Before anybody blame media, one should introspect and find out. Media portrays what society wants to read and know. As it has to survive in this cut throat race for survival and supremacy, they are doing their job. And, because majority of the people do not want to read it. The reluctance from people to know, understand and talk about their fellow countrymen’s plight from North East India, is the reason why media is not reporting. At the end of the day, its all about money.

No qualms against media, as an industry. You are following the simple business economics philosophy. You are working because you want to earn profit. Nothing wrong in it. However, what hurts most is the perception that they want to portray. One may feel like that one is a biggest evil as one is running after money, fame and success. I wonder who in the media is not running after all these. Get your philosophy right first before you want to impose your thoughts on someone else. As they said it in good old times, practice before you preach.

Let unfortunate ones remain in peace and may almighty give strength to the bereaved families to overcome this tragedy.