World of many realities

World of many realities

weighty issues Sania and Shoaib saga.

One soldier is heard saying in a chillingly normal, almost playful tone, “C’mon let’s fire. Keep shootin. Keep shootin. Keep shootin!” And they don’t stop. They even attack the van, which is trying to take the injured to the hospital.

The whole world saw the footage of Kathryn Bigelow’s triumph at the Oscars for a film that celebrates the bravery of American soldiers as they negotiate their way around a hostile Iraq, defusing bombs and landmines but it took a video not meant for public consumption to show the world how cheap civilian life in Iraq is. You could be a journalist walking the street with your camera and the next minute, an American soldier could identify you as an “individual with weapon” and blow you up to pieces. No questions asked. No explanations given. And then watch over your body and say, “Look at the dead bastard. Nice.”

A character in Ridley Scott’s movie ‘GI Jane’ conveys that nothing is quite news till its on CNN. And it is true. The strongest voice in the world is that of the American media. We get to see their talk shows, their news channels, their films, their reality shows, even the tattoos and cleavage and the scandals of their stars and know the taste of their fast food and their fizzy drinks better than anything that constitutes our own reality. Our foreign policies are influenced by Americans and because American viewpoints and products are all pervasive, it is so much easier to know what an American thinks about Iraq or any other country in the world than to know what an Iraqi thinks of the drones hovering in his skies.

Closer home too, so much easier to reach for a cola than for coconut water. Our world view is shaped by the news we are given, allowed to process, given in parts that do not make up the whole. What we get to see is the world according to America. And, it is time to ask why we have been passively consuming a world view not our own just because its marketed better than anything else in the world.

At home, we must be watchful as we process filtered reporting. In a charged atmosphere, post the Maoist massacre of CRPF men, it is so easy to either romanticise red violence or to defend the so called Operation Green Hunt unleashed by the government. That is why Mahua Chaudhury’s long report (NDTV) on the Green Hunting government, the blood bathing Maoists and the cornered ‘adivasis’ was a welcome insight into what the real issue is. Mineral rich land and the rights of the tribal who live there. How ironical that when both the government and the Maoists are claiming to fight for them, they are the ones who stay invisible and unheard. Another documentary on NDTV profiled the ‘stone throwers’ of Kashmir, articulating the anger and frustration created by decades of mismanagement and unemployment. These are perspectives we need to hear and see. And not just news where only the government speaks and reacts.

As far as the Sania, Shoaib, Ayesha saga on news channels goes, the focus of attention was not so much on the ‘nikahnama’, lies and a videotape but a woman’s weight. What a world we live in where at the heart of a controversy about a possible love match gone wrong was not a woman’s heart but her weight. No wonder then that fat busting clinics thrive today fuelled by the insecurities of women like Ayesha and men who rather marry a tennis star than a woman with a “weight problem.”  

The point is that news must have more than one perspective. More than just black or white extremes because we live in the world of many realities. It is important that all realities get air time and are acknowledged because a half truth is as dangerous as a blatant lie.

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