The past 10 days the TV headlines are all about Tarun Tejpal’s fall from grace. People pillory him for his indecent act with one of his journalist employees. The whole nation is baying for his blood. Its consciousness is soaked in the dripping grime of one man’s lapse.
As a nation, we are bereft of causes and better things to do. So, we idolize Sachin Tendulkar to the cult status of God because of his achievements. And collectively join together to burn the fallen gods at the stake. As individuals we remain non-entities. Gods and fallen gods become our obsessions in life. Not ourselves, individually.
Politicians take the lead in tarring the name of people connected with Tarun Tejpal. Some TV anchors become the insensitive jury and judge to make ‘we the people’ numb and dumb. They lead us all to the slaughter house to watch the mutilation as the fallen gods wriggle in shame. Judges pronounce judgements to echo the sentiments of the public, afraid to stand for fairness and justice. We are no better than the citizens of Rome that watched the gladiators spill blood and kill.
We are so bored with life that the entertainment dished out on TV satiate our lives with our daily staple diet of gory entertainment. Without that, we would feel dead. Sensational and bloated news are the opiates of the populace now. So, the more insensitive the anchor, the shriller his voice, the more he and his TV channel are rated as top notch.
Our nation rises in protest as one when a man is indecent with a woman – as we should. But, what if there is some grain of truth in Tejpal’s version? I for one do not believe women are always the victim or are always right.
The media is coy about publicizing the name of the woman concerned, and correctly so. But what gives them the right to go overboard with the crucifixion of the man concerned unmindful that he has a wife and daughter to face? And, despite what he is alleged to have done, does he not have a right to his honour and dignity?
Yet, every sixth female child is not allowed to be born in our country due to gender discrimination. Of the 12 million girls born in our country, 3 million do not see their fifteenth birthday, and a million of them are unable to survive even their first birthday. A majority of women marry into families that demand dowry. Child marriages still happen. Wives remain glorified domestic servants.
Snoop Gate and stalking of a woman by the state machinery also happened in our backyard. For all we care, what might have happened in this case could be more heinous. But we the gullible are led to believe, that the woman in question was snooped upon with her knowledge, for her protection. So, there is no hue and cry. We the gullible!
As the Bible says, we better first take the plank out of our own eye, and then we will see clearly to remove the speck from our brother’s eye.
How sudden can be the descent from being a worshiped hero to a reviled zero! A matter of minutes is enough for reputation and everything people have built, to fall in a heap. Bapu Asaram, Swami Nithyanand, Ex-judge Ganguly, Tejpal……the list of alleged wrong doers is long. For them women might have become objects of pleasure, not people with individual worth and dignity.
Yes, women had the wrong end of the stick for a long time. They are on top now. Yet, are we serving ourselves well by losing all sense of fairness by hounding the man – even if he is wrong? By being merciless hounds and extracting our pounds of flesh, aren’t we creating more Shylocks in our world?
Competitive sensationalisation of sleazy stories and the muck they bring to the surface only make us more and more insensitive and numb. It is a vicious cycle – numb and insensitive people in turn become the perpetrators of such crimes. In a way, the media and particularly some TV channels create the crime and some dumb fools commit them.
May be Tejpal and his ilk need to be the sacrificial lambs so that women get the respect they deserve. My only wish is that we accomplish this with more finesse and compassion. And desist from our growing tendency to see people as either black or white.
This addictive focus on the ills of the world remove us far from ourselves and what we stand for individually. We become part of an amorphous, unthinking group called the mob. At times I wonder whether we are moving forward or backward as people.