Devina Divecha. Journalist.

I write because I can.


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The Freedom Express

Search for ‘Voltaire’ on my blog. Go on. It will now show up in three posts. I really must stop quoting him. Well, not him exactly. The quote which actually comes from The Friends of Voltaire (1906), written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall under the pseudonym S.G. Tallentyre is so apt, how can I not use it when the concept of free press or freedom of expression comes up?

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

According to the Press Freedom Index 2009 list released by Reporters Without Borders, India ranks 105th out of 175 countries (Read this detailed report on the country).

In celebration of World Press Freedom Day, the project India Unheard was launched on May 3 2010, according to Times of India. This video gives us a brief introduction to the citizen journalists who have been trained in using technology like mobile phone video cameras to bring stories to the mainstream media.

Currently the website looks a bit bare, but if the correspondents keep at it, this concept does look promising. On one hand, a handful of people try to report on lesser known stories of the country. On the other, reporters get attacked by mobs because something they printed didn’t sit down too well among certain factions. A certain level of self-censorship does reek through the ranks of the press of the world’s largest democracy. This article in the Telegraph outlines the rife religious undercurrents in the country that can erupt at the slightest provocation or what seems to be one. A line from this article that hit me:

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for press freedom. But when you know the possible outcome, it’s best to be practical and avoid these situations.

Practicality vs Truth. Safety vs Physical harm. What would the rest of us do? What would I do? I refuse to be a hypocrite and say I’d print whatever I want without thinking of the ramifications – I would definitely think of the outcome and work accordingly. But if that’s the case – if journalists everywhere have some semblance of self-censorship, then how can ANY country claim to be truly free?

I may want to defend the right of people to speak freely; that doesn’t guarantee I’ll speak freely myself. Will World Press Freedom Day ever see the press completely free? Should it even be completely free? Playing devil’s advocate – if the media published anything that caught their fancy, then what’s to stop hate speeches or incitement-of-hatred articles to get out there?

But who decides what is okay to publish and what’s not?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Or to put it in the words from a 2009 movie, “Who will watch the watchmen?”


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Soaps of our Indian lives

Many years ago, the mailboxes of a television network crashed. Newspapers were writing of the tragedy of someone’s death. People were in tears. Why? Because a character on a television soap died (eventually the makers of the series had to bring the character ‘back to life’ under immense public pressure). The power of television in India was paramount (I say “was” because I no longer believe Indian television arouses mass hysteria as it used to. I may be wrong though; I gave up watching most Indian serials a few years ago).

I read an interesting story on research on the positive aspects of soap operas a while ago and I was a bit aghast. While the article mentioned that soap operas helped in furthering education and development in their respective countries of origin, I sat stymied.

The Indian soap opera boom started in the late 90s-early 00s when the typical saas-bahu (mother-in-law — daughter-in-law) serials were born. In the story I’ve linked to in the previous paragraph, here are the excerpts about Indian soap operas:

Others have found that in India — where soaps dominate the airwaves — villages where people watch more TV give more responsibilities and rights to women and girls.

Researchers have found a similar effect on the other side of the world, in rural India. Two economists, Emily Oster at the University of Chicago and Robert Jensen at UCLA, looked at surveys on a range of social attitudes in five Indian states from 2001 to 2003, a time of rapid expansion in access to cable TV. As with Brazil’s Rede Globo, Oster and Jensen found that the spread of cable brought down the fertility rate, but they found other changes as well: Women with cable access were less approving of the idea that a husband could justifiably beat his wife, and reported having more autonomy and more of a role in household financial matters. Their daughters were more likely to be enrolled in school.

I read this and scoffed. Pardon me for doing so, but the mindless contraptions that dominated the Indian airwaves during this period were nothing short of regressive (in my opinion anyway!). I found this blog post on Reuters that I agreed with on the state of television serials in India.

The mindlessness of some of these serials suck people into a vortex of impossible mind-numbing plotlines and never lets them go. For some insight into a handful of preposterous plots, think of characters who have died a gazillion times, yet always come back; think of the innumerable shows where, in order to prolong the series, they kill off the main characters and re-incarnate them. How can I not assume India soap operas are insanely hyped and wrongly held in esteem when I read news like this?

Of course, articles such as these give a voice to the proponents of these serials who believe that they are truly trying to do good. That their serials are contributing to the development of the nation. A line from this article:

…the show is among a growing number that use their influence as an occasional platform to educate viewers, most of them middle-class women and housewives, about a variety of social causes, from treating diarrhea to the rights of women and the importance of donating to tsunami victims.

Yes, I agree that Indian soaps do manage to seep in causes that need to be highlighted in the country. This article highlights how some TV serials can do that.

But not always.

Most of the serials are based in metropolitan cities of India, which have become westernized in their own way. So ‘traditionalists’ viewing these serials become infuriated by the “independence” shown by women going to offices and divorcing their husbands and goodness knows what else. Perhaps it is because of this reason that serials introduced elements to their shows that did not contribute to the improvement of social situations in the country but worsened them.

Thanks to these serials, this is what the people of India absorb: cheating husbands are constantly forgiven for their behaviour by self-sacrificing wives, mother-in-law’s are invariably conniving evil souls (if it’s not the MIL case in the evil role, it’s the sister-in-law), women who wear western clothes are loose/uncaring/cold/adultresses/the Kraken (Okay, I kid about the Kraken. Or not.), women who marry those their parents oppose eventually turn out to be cads, and so much more.

Or am I just a victim of media imperialism where I  find locally produced shows inadequate? No. Because really, how can anyone take television seriously as a medium of developmental journalism if it perpetuates social inequalities and damages your brain cells?

  • Read this article about how India is influencing Brazilian soaps – Sepia Mutiny


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Twitter, Dubai and Journalism

Note: I’ve included this post in “Journalism, Globalization and Development” because I felt it related to the question raised in the presentation I did last week on whether social media has led to any changes in journalism or not. While I’ve focused on India till now as the subject for my JNL6027 posts, this time I digress. 

On Tuesday, 11th May 2010, I rolled out of bed, looked at my Twitter feed and froze. I got on a phone call with my mother and said: “Mom, there’s a fire in Sharjah and it’s huge. Expect traffic after you pick Karan up from school.” What’s so weird about that? Not much, other than the fact I was calling her from the comfort of my room in Sheffield to tell her about a fire that started in the United Arab Emirates. That is the power of Twitter.

Twitter is an important part of my life now. Apart from my official account (Shameless plug: @DevinaDivecha), I also handle the account for the magazine the MA Magazine Journalism students created for election week (yet another shameless plug: @SoapboxMagazine).

Two weeks ago, I was part of a group that gave a presentation on blogging and new media activism (you can view it here if you’re interested: JNL6027 on Prezi) and one of the questions that cropped up was whether new media technologies like Twitter, Facebook etc can contribute to responsible journalism or are they a threat.

The incident Tuesday morning made me think of Twitter’s contribution to journalism in the U.A.E. I distinctly remember that it was August 2006 when I first noticed newspapers using blogs as a source for stories. Now, using blogs to hunt for story leads is passé . Twitter is la mode du jour.

The earliest I remember Twitter ‘breaking’ a news story was in August 2009. Then 21-year-old @MaliZomg tweeted that a building had collapsed in a certain part of Dubai. That was enough to get the newshounds on the trail of the story. He was quoted as a verifiable source in reports on news websites because he twitpic’d the scene in front of him (also view this for a timeline of his tweets on the subject). The photo he took was also used in aforementioned stories with due credit. As for the fire in Sharjah on Tuesday, another Twitter user @albertdias, who was on a call on Dubai Eye, gave an eyewitness account on radio and uploaded pictures of the blaze on Twitter. His version of events was the first thing to appear on news websites for the story (Read more about the fire here).

The internet has proved to be a very useful resource for journalists to get leads. However, I must stress that while it’s all very well to find amazing sources online, it doesn’t replace getting out in the field and getting your hands dirty. It has been drummed into me during my MA that we need to combine using real-time information with actual journalistic work. I personally feel that new media technologies can only contribute to journalism but only if used right. Breaking news based on tweets or blogs is acceptable if you can verify that the information is true (for example, more than one person tweeting/blogging about it, pictures) but then what? Following up on the story is important – you can’t just stuff your piece with quotes cut-and-pasted from online without getting some work done yourself.

New media technologies have simply brought sources closer to the journalist – it hasn’t made the sources journalists themselves. Well…not yet anyway.


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Honour (?) in the modern world

As is my wont to ask random questions, I once put forth this query to someone I knew: “What is your take on honour killings?

He replied: “I think it’s acceptable under some circumstances.”

I was – and still am – aghast that an educated person could think that a ritual as barbaric as honour killings was not wrong.

Sadly, this is the case in India – honour killings are common and practised by rural and urban people alike. In a case that’s been in the news over the last few days, a man killed his sister’s husband because their family did not approve of their marriage. Another case: a female journalist was found dead and her mother has been arrested on the charge of murdering her. What was the motive? Apparently, Nirupama Pathak (the 23-year-old journalist) made the mistake of falling in love with a boy from another caste. That was enough to have the family in an uproar. It also seemed a good enough reason to kill her rather than have the “shame” of the daughter of the house marrying someone from a different caste (Coverage in TimesOnline).

The crime shows yet again how ‘honour killings’ cannot be considered the curse of rural India where panchayats often order the execution of young couples who dare to cross caste borders.  Nirupama’s father worked at a bank, her brothers were PhDs, the family had helped Nirupama to move far from home to follow her dreams.

Read about similar cases:

At this point, I digress towards the critiques of the modernization paradigm of developmental journalism. According to Servaes (1999: 17), the modernization paradigm…supported the transfer of technology and the sociopolitical culture of developed societies to “traditional” or “underdeveloped” societies. The problem many found with this paradigm is that Western ideologies were imposed on an undeveloped nation or developing nation without taking into account the socio-political and cultural situation of the country that needed to be “modernized”. Also, the way of “modernizing” the indigenous population employed a top-down approach rather than involving them in the development process.

In my last post, I discussed the concept of digital divide as it applied in India as well as the aspect of how the modernization paradigm doesn’t always work as technology and development should be adapted to the needs of the country in question. However, there is another way to look at it.

On one hand, it can be argued that countries resent a Western ideology being imposed on them and the Western way of thinking is definitely not the be-all and end-all goal to reach. However, if practices such as honour killings and dowry have seeped into the “culture” of a country, then do we keep quiet? Does it mean that those who oppose the modernization paradigm stand back and sit quiet because hey, let us not foist our ideas on the indigenous population? Do we tell the people who think it’s alright to kill someone for the protection of their inflated and false sense of “honour” to keep thinking the way they do? Do we not even try to change their minds? It’s sad because those who practice this kind of behaviour will turn around and tell those who want to change their minds: “Don’t try and talk to us about how what we’re doing is wrong. This is how we do it in our culture. Keep your Western ideas out of it.”

While Western ideas are NOT all there are…there are some concepts that transcend the East and West. The concept that killing people because they married someone you didn’t like is wrong. The concept that dowry is not acceptable in any circumstance whatsoever. The concept that murdering female babies/children is barbaric. These concepts are not Western. They’re humanitarian.

What is scary – to me anyway – with regard to honour killings is that when even educated people (cases in point: the family of Nirupama Pathak and the person who made the comment at the beginning of this post) think that this is a sanctioned way of behaving, what hope do the proponents of the modernization paradigm have in bringing light to these misguided souls?


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Bridging the Digital Divide

Every morning, I’m on my Chrome 4.1 browser checking my many email accounts (of which I have 7. Or 8. I can never remember), looking at my Twitter feed on Seesmic and Skype-ing away simultaneously. All this before my breakfast, mind you. Yet some people haven’t even seen a computer, forget knowing what a ‘trending topic’ is.

Globalization and the digital divide are such paradoxical concepts but manage to exist side-by-side in many parts of the world. On one hand the reach of the internet breaks down geographical barriers, while on the other there are a vast number of people who don’t even know what the internet is.

In this map of Internet users worldwide, you can see the internet penetration in India  as of February 2008 is only between 4.9-13%. Many schemes have been in the pipeline to bridge the digital divide between the urban and rural areas and I think a trend is emerging where mobile phones have been shown to be more useful to the people than laptops and computers. Here’s a look at some of the efforts:

This article by the BBC highlights the methods by which SMS activism is used by villagers in India to talk about issues that are most important to them.

CGnet Swara (Chhattisgarh Net Voice) is an attempt to cater to people who are on the wrong side of the digital divide, says Shubhranshu Choudhary, a former BBC journalist-turned-activist and the brain behind CGnet Swara. “We are providing a new platform which the villagers can use to talk to each other and the outside world about issues that are important to them,” he says.

Another point: would the internet even be useful to people who cannot read? There are, in India, a large number of illiterate people. According to the India Literacy Project, the literacy rate in India as per the 2001 census was 65.38%. Male literacy rate stood at 75.85%, while the female literacy rate was a measly 54.16%. It will be interesting to see what the next census results will reveal. This article on India Today shares news that a PhD researcher is trying to make mobile phones text-free – the idea is to make them visual not textual. Definitely an interesting development to look at in the future.

Statistics showing India‘s education level on UNICEF.org tells us that as of 2007, only 7 out of every 100 Indians were Internet users while 20 out of every 100 had phones – another point in favour of using mobile phones. With this regard, read an interview with Gurudath Banavar, the Director of IBM India Research Lab on the promise of the “Spoken Web” in bridging existing gaps. He said:

This is compelling for people who don’t have access to the Internet, or are not able to read or write. Anyone with access to a phone–mobile or landline–will be able to access the Spoken Web.

Perhaps in an effort to encourage further innovation and development with regard to reducing the gap between the haves and have-nots of the digital world, the Manthan Awards ceremony was set up 7 years ago to recognize strides in the South Asian world that have contributed towards lessening this gap.

Even in 2002, Wired.com covered this phenomenon where people carrying mobile phones travel the villages of India in order to connect the villagers to the rest of the country.

This does imply, to me, that the modernization paradigm of developmental journalism doesn’t work – what the western world thinks of as ‘modern’ isn’t necessarily so. Luis Ramiro Beltrán pointed out that the definition of modernity…was one elaborated by the USA and implemented by experts trained in the USA (Sparks, 2007: 41). Internet users all over the world, where penetration levels are at its highest, cannot imagine their life without it. I certainly can’t. But is the internet the be-all and end-all for everyone? Not in the least. Do villagers need the internet? Or do they simply need better connectivity? If mobile phones give them that, with more ease than the internet does, then who are we to argue?

As I’d like to say … whatever floats your boat.


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Of Pink Pants and Eve-Teasing

July 2003: I was 16 and for the most part, ungainly and awkward. I had volunteered to assist the school librarian during the summer vacation to re-organize stacks of books in the library. My trade-off was getting books to read. One day, I took a shortcut on my walk home which meant passing through a sports club. That day a huge group of young boys, kicking their footballs around, was in the area. As I soldiered through, a few of them deliberately walked in my path, heckled, laughed and started blurting out obscenities aimed at me. I kept my eyes down and continued to walk steadily, completely flushed. What did I do when I got home? Tell my mother how I felt? Talk to her about what I should have done instead? Wrong. I did absolutely nothing and told no one. Instead I felt dirty and ashamed. Currently however, what can women do if this – or worse forms of eve-teasing – happens to them? Apart from legal action of any kind, they can just go online. Confused? Keep reading.

Hand-in-hand with the reality of the Internet exists the concept of globalization. According to Sparks (2007: 126), there is no single theory of globalization that commands common assent. As Held and his collaborators put it … : “no single coherent theory of globalization exsits’ (Held et al., 1999:436). Apart from a consensus that globalization implies being more connected with people and areas at a distance, various theories differ in ‘fundamental ways’. The Internet has played a huge role in increasing that sense of inter-connectedness, lending further credence to the concept of ‘global village‘ as put forward by Marshall McLuhan.

When the internet was invented, could the founders have envisaged that it would become, not just a way to share information, but a tool for social change? Sparks mentions (2007: 198) that the Internet provides ‘an important tool which is usable by radical movements as part of their drive towards self-organization.’ But even as a way of bringing about change, how effective is it? When I try to think of movements in India that were propelled further because of the power of the internet, only two come to mind: Blank Noise and the Pink Chaddi Campaign (to those readers who have no idea what ‘chaddi’ means, it means ‘pants’ if you’re in the UK and ‘underwear’ if elsewhere!).

Pink Chaddi Campaign

Members of a right-wing Hindu group called Sri Ram Sena stormed into a pub in Mangalore on 24 January 2009 and attacked a group of people, mostly women, justifying it with their warped belief that the women were destroying all traditional Hindu values by sitting in a pub and therefore deserved to be humiliated. They dragged the women out into the street, hit them, kicked them and revelled in it.

The attack, which was widely publicized on news channels andclippings of which could be found on YouTube, was denounced by many. A group of women, led by Nisha Susan, decided to use the internet to call for shaming the leader of the Sri Ram Sena, Pramod Muthalik. Using a blog and Facebook (they formed a Facebook group called “Consortium of Pubgoing, Loose and Forward Women”) they rallied to send pink chaddis (pants/underwear/whatever you call them) to Pramod Muthalik and send messages of love and peace to him on February 14, Valentine’s Day (Note: right-wing Hindu groups in India, like the SRS believe that celebrating Valentine’s Day is a defacement of Hindu values and often resort of hooliganism to stop any sign of celebrations of the same).

The movement was a success in that people (men included) sent thousands of pink chaddis to Muthalik on Valentine’s Day and in so doing, garnered a lot of attention in the media, further highlighting their cause.

However, after Valentine’s Day, their Facebook group was hacked into and insulting messages posted all over it. Facebook had to take the group down and the founders have decided to not use that social networking site again.

In addition, after the furore the pink chaddi campaign caused, as with most well-meaning campaigns, it slowly ebbed out of the news and hasn’t been repeated again.

  • View the current blog of Pink Chaddi founder, Nisha Susan
  • Read the article ‘Why we said pants to India’s bigots‘ in The Observer
  • View the official blog of the Pink Chaddi Campaign
  • View the TV news coverage of the Pink Chaddi Campaign

Blank Noise

Being eve-teased is a form of sexual harrassment. Tired of women being told ‘they asked for it’ because of the clothes they were wearing, Blank Noise was launched in 2003 by Jasmeen Patheja to strike back. In 2009, they joined with other organizations and individuals to form the Fearless Karnataka/Nirbhaya Karnataka coalition in order to respond to instances of street violence against women. The movement holds public events and interventions in different parts of the country to raise awareness on the issue.

This campaign, unlike the previous example, is still operational and regularly posts updates on its blog.

  • View the official blog for the movement Blank Noise
  • View the official Facebook profile for Blank Noise and official fan page.
  • Read an article in the Telegraph about the beginnings of Blank Noise
  • Read an article in The Christian Science Monitor about Blank Noise

How effective are these two campaigns, both of which used the internet and social media resources to get their messages across? The Pink Chaddi campaign was, in my opinion, a flash-in-the-pan – it came, it dominated for a week or two, it went. If the campaign had held steady and kept updating its blog, interacting with its followers (of which it had amassed many), perhaps the Consortium of Pub-Going, Loose and Forward Women would have still been around today. As for Blank Noise, its growth may have been less flashy but more effective.

However it might be said that even with increased accessiblity to the Internet and the World Wide Web in recent times, there is a ‘digital divide’, or the ‘haves and have-nots’ when it comes to technology. Would these movements garner support in areas that have limited connectivity to the WWW? Probably not. The internet is a tool to push ideas further, but until the digital divide is breached, social change has a chance only in the case of the ‘haves’.

Nevertheless, this is a start – if there are more avenues where women can get help, a lesser number will remain quiet the way I did.


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Female Foeticide in India

If my family had been uneducated, entrenched in the patriarchal ways of thinking and steeped in the mire of traditionalist thoughts, the possibility of me not seeing the light of day would have been very high. Why? Because I am female.

The sex ratio in India stands at 933:1000 (i.e. for every 1000 male births, there are 933 female births), with the Union Territory of Daman and Diu dropping to a pathetic 710:1000. This has more to do with misplaced human pride and intervention as opposed to a hapless X-chromosome bonding with another X-chromosome. According to Dr. Indu Grewal and Dr. J Kishore, female foeticide is the reason that “between 35 and 40 million girls and women are missing from the Indian population.”

In his book, The Spectatorship of Suffering (2006), Chouliaraki says: “The overexposure to human suffering has unaestheticizing, numbing effects. Rather than cultivating a sensibility, the spectacle of suffering becomes domesticated by the experience of watching it on television.” (pg 18) Whether shown on television or reported in newspapers or featured in magazines, the topic of female foeticide and infanticide has probably succumbed to being a victim of compassion fatigue.

States like Gujarat and Haryana are perpetual offenders, with this latest story which reports that 14 foetuses were found in a garbage bin in Ahmedabad. Yet the headline news de jour is the IPL (Indian Premier League) scandal involving Shashi Tharoor, former UN Under-Secretary General, and Lalit Modi, Chairman of the IPL. A similar example of important issues being ignored can be seen in this video where journalist P. Sainath talks about how 512 journalists were covering the fashion week but the pressing issue of farmers’ suicides was ignored.

The modernization paradigm of development journalism (dominant from 1958-1980s) sought to move societies from their traditional state to a modern one – where ‘modern’ implies a westernized outlook. In this approach, information is distributed via a one-way top-down method, which leaves the people with no chance to interact with or respond to those giving out information. Thomas McPhail said that there needed to be a paradigm shift wherein the culture of the country in question was not diminished. In addition, he stressed the need for a bottom-up approach. It’s obvious the modernization paradigm will not work here; society is bogged down by this backward way of thinking. Simply telling people that female foeticide is wrong will not make them stop.

After the modernization paradigm, the participant and empowerment frameworks were developed so as to include the local population in development efforts. But this means engaging with people who believe that female foeticide is justified.

So why does it happen? High priority is given to the male child with the belief that he will be the one to care for his parents in their old age whereas a daughter would not. It is also believed that the male will be the breadwinner of the family. Another reason is the notion that without a male child, there would be no future generations bearing the family name. The dowry system in India also is a contributing factor to female foeticide and infanticide; the thought of having to scrounge up an exorbitant amount for the daughter’s wedding in the future is a deterrent, especially to poor families. How then can the media change the mind of these people?

Using forms of media like radio, television shows, theatre plays – accessible even to those who cannot read – is a more participatory way of imparting values. Talking to the people who indulge, or wish to indulge, in such practices is a better way of dealing with them as opposed to talking at them. There is no way to know if this method would work unless it’s forcefully put into practice.

Inspite of various efforts, the problem continues to exist and nothing concrete has happened towards alleviating the situation. Till then, we can keep reading about the latest in the IPL action.

  • View an audio slideshow on the subject on The Guardian’s website.
  • Read about the city of Pune unsuccessfully trying to combat the trend of female foeticide.
  • Read an article on the UNICEF website on the issue of declining sex ratios in India.

“Modernization of the economy and industry must go hand in hand with modernization of outlook and attitude, which, in a civilized society, give equal importance to children irrespective of their gender.” – Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India


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How to Write about India

In the JNL6027 class, we were shown this interesting piece titled How to Write about Africa which highlighted the clichés writers and journalists use when expanding on the ‘dark continent’ (see, I did it too!).

It struck me that even India (the country I’ll be focusing on in my blog for this module) has its fair share of stereotypical phrases and ingredients needed to concoct a clichéd story and/or article.

The piece How to write an Indian story at the Sepia Mutiny blog lists a few points like sacred cows, holy trees, British colonialism and more without which any story about India would be incomplete! I mean, what’s an article on India without bovine animals ambling about roads filled with rickshaw-wallahs (men pulling rickshaws)?

Another tongue-in-cheek and spot-on blog post, How to write about India? on the blog interim thoughts gives a more detailed look at the tried-and-tested one-dimensional formula writers can use to describe India.

Next task: plan my next trip to the land of the Taj Mahal replete with slums, child brides and cows. Or something.


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Crossing Borders

Stereotypes exist everywhere. Be it in your mind, in the media or in how you’re served over a counter.

Linked to the concept of stereotypes is the ‘single story’ – Chimamanda Adichie, in her TED talk, speaks about the danger of a single story, whereby hearing only one story about a particular place or person can lead to many misunderstandings. When you are constantly beset by only one viewpoint or perspective about a place, person or event, that viewpoint becomes the “truth” of the matter at hand as opposed to just one way to look at it.

Currently, the story making headlines in India is the news that one of its tennis stars, Sania Mirza, is engaged to be married to Pakistani cricketeer Shoaib Malik. Where’s the single story in that? The constant hype of how the two sub-continent countries are at war with each other is what made this story hit headlines across the newswires.

The single story about India and Pakistan? That they hate each other, are constantly at war and can never get along.

Not true.

There is no denying that problems do exist between both countries, but a distinction must be made between tension between governments and tension between the people. Tempers run at cricket matches, true, but on the whole, the people of the two countries don’t have bones to pick with each other. The single story of how Indians hate Pakistanis and vice versa does nothing to help the peace process and largely serves to irritate the people, who are the ones assumed to be filled with hatred, when they’re not.

Perhaps picking up on this cue, the international media has covered this story as well, also blending in the story of how India and Pakistan are constantly at loggerheads with each other. Read the coverage of the story at The Times, The Telegraph and The Guardian.

The media needs to be responsible and while they should go ahead and report a story, they also need to exercise caution with regard to the extent of coverage given to a story and also ensure communal undertones don’t creep into it.

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