Tejpal, Sleaze and We the Self Righteous

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.


2 thoughts on “Tejpal, Sleaze and We the Self Righteous”

  1. A very well balanced article, I must say. Well, it’s a world of sensationalism and vulgarity in the media. Media, more often, in cases such as this come to conclusions faster than anyone’s imaginations. But don’t forget it is the same media that made the likes of Anna Hazaare and Arvind Kejriwal heroes and rightfully so. There is a role for them to play in the fast changing society and they are doing it fair and square is what I think.

    That said, let me give you a different perspective…May be you’ll agree with me on this 😉

    In the last 1 decade, if there is one thing that has changed the course of an otherwise conservative & corrupt nation, it’s the media. Tejpal was a pioneer in exposing the nexus and vulgarity that existed behind the veils of politics, cricket and underworld. And he & his coterie of followers covered it quite well. And to an extent that the entire nation became a watchdog of sort with media leading from the front.

    I think – with so much of focus, attention and exposure, the pressure to be perfect is far more than you can think of. I can’t imagine what it would be like for them to have a good night’s sleep. I will be surprised if these dont get onto their nerves, sooner than later. According to me, this pressure came down heavily on someone like Tejpal who (if true) lost his ability to judge what is right and wrong, perhaps for years. This is precisely the reason, I believe, Tehelka has not been a Tehelka for years now.

    Whether or not he deserves it, I dont know. All I can tell is – here was a man who carried so much respect became suddenly vulnerable contradicting his own beliefs.
    What we have seen is perhaps one of the biggest ironies of the century – He who stood for what he believed in, committed what he should not have.

    At the end of the day – I feel it’s the people whose trust has been betrayed and raped. People ought to be angry…and they are showing it.

    Those who are in the limelight MUST know that they are being watched all the time.

  2. There is a lot of truth in your comments. I agree, power corrupts and idealism gets diluted along the way.

    We are most of the time, captives of the ‘single story’. We look at events and people through lenses we opt to wear at a particular time. We overlook, there could be several stories and versions.

    However, for the entire nation to be consumed by Tejpal’s terrible lapse for more than 10 days, there could be something terribly wonky about our thinking and priorities.


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