Tuesday, October 4, 2022
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Media Censorship: Cuffing Voices Out Loud


Documentaries and rapes; Shades of Grey and eroticas; Girls and their dragon tattoos; Human Rights and Women Empowerment, have all seemingly been banned from this country of ‘snake charmers’. From where I stand, incompetence and failure go hand-in-hand, but well, so does the Indian govt. and its long list of faffs.

Be it the documentary on the most brutal rape case in India that highlights the plight of our oh-so-respected ‘Goddesses’ or the simple question of legal protection even to toddlers, has shown the message of a failed delivery time and again. Media, the one and only source that we thought was our key to freedom of speech, is now politically controlled or ‘sensibly’ censored for our own good. Some good, I doubt we’ll ever reap.


Recently, the censor board (and its political alter-ego) has been under attack from enraged masses following its ban imposed upon BBC’s documentary of India’s Daughter – Nirbhaya. The documentary unveils the twisted fate of Jyoti Singh, a 23-year old independent young woman who dared to venture out into the darkness. It’s sad to see that the reality, depth and facts about such incidents have been brought to notice by a foreign country because if an Indian dared to film it, he would be left mentally ‘raped’ by the authorities.

Okay, let’s put aside the BBC-ban aside for a second and take a peek into the recent past where the AIB roast took the hardest hit. A session of vulgar jokes, personal jibes and verbal undressings, with a clear disclaimer stating the obvious (faint-hearted to kindly take the high road) before hand was taken to court by a group of prudes who laughed all the way through it but, slammed the Roast for having been a bit too epic? #KhapPanchayat. Or take for instance, the ban of a long list of our daily-‘verbs’ from being included in a movie script left most aghast. Only recently in Ayushman Khurrana’s ‘Dum laga ke Haisha’, the word lesbian was muted because it was a bad influence on our janta. I’m sure even the word ‘homo’ is a disease. #NoFreedomOfSpeech.





Another angle which I fail to understand in this entire hullabaloo is why was not the reality series, led by Raghu-Ram and Ranvijay, Roadies, taken off air for its offensive and degrading ways? Wasn’t that a level higher than what the Roast had put forward? Didn’t Roadies mentally scar its contestants/interviewees? Or was it just a social service to show the ‘wannabes’ of our country their right place in society?


The media is the only platform in the world that allows freedom of speech to one and all. Even though most media houses are run under the strict governance of a political or private stronghold, suppression of voice is not seen in plenty all over the globe but in India, to quite an extent. If she wants to speak her mind out for her people to listen, she’s edited and made into a rogue. If he has something to show the government and change it’s thought process, a false footage of his ‘murder’ is found. If children want to sing out of pride for their country, it’s political drama! Be it cyber, print or television media, the three-fold category which was initially a podium of expression and news is now a podium of scams and schemes.

But in another turn of events, we do see some ray of hope resting on the bold shoulders of news channels (NDTV) which ceased all programmes for an hour on Sunday evening only to display the title – India’s Daughter – with a flickering lamp underneath, a sign of protest against the ban of the BBC documentary. However, the question that nags us repeatedly is – whether this ‘stunt’ was for a genuine reason, had ulterior publicity motives or was for the first time, Indian media defying its dearly beloved? Whatever it was, at the end of the day it caught attention and rightfully so, hit the right notes.





Like each human is double faced, this angle too has a twist – Press Neutrality or Media Freedom from Censorship. Cursing the media to be a part of buy-ins by powerful entities is the new trend, but have we tried empathizing with their situation? Blaming the media for a dent in the community is easy, but realizing the fact that its media ethics that have to be over-looked to bring to you what you read, is an achievement in itself. Confused?

In layman’s terms, would you ever enter a Jihadist territory to shed light on the plight of those supressed by armed-force, only to bring that ‘breaking news’ you never even bother to look at unless it’s on your 5-inch screen or has ‘viral’ written all over it. The freedom factor comes into play when journalists are bogged down by the puppetier who strings them in accordance to what is considered ‘safe’ media; not honest media. But if a certain reporter dares to put forward the hard facts hidden, either the video of his torture is found or it’s made sure that he is ruined to the post of a columnist to a district newsletter.

It’s easy to blame the media than to be the media.


Brining the topic of censorship to a close, we must understand that it’s is a two-fold mechanism. Here the public are helpless as broadcasts are banned; there the press is hapless that truth is hidden. Who is the ultimate victor? I know not, but what I do know is that both the viewer (no matter how tolerant) and the provider(no matter how cashed-in) will repel in ways more than one. Starting with India, the agitation has set-in.



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