The past week was quite an eventful one on social media, with netizens commenting on topics from the Narcotics Control Bureau’s investigation in drug abuse in Bollywood, cricketer Sunil Gavaskar’s comment during an IPL match which provoked a response from actor Anushka Sharma, and on the farmers across many States protesting against agriculture bills passed by the Union government. However, the most interesting take from the week was how national media has been criticised for covering all these issues, with sensationalism rather than rationalism.
Many prominent personalities criticised the media frenzy over the investigation into a so-called ‘Bollywood Drug Mafia’ while ignoring the farmers’ protests.
Firebrand journalist Rana Ayyub wrote about the current state of journalism in India and what drives it:
This is the Indian media. This is a medieval witch hunt of women. And you call this journalism. And if this channel manages to get maximum TRP's you know this says something about you. That you, the viewers, the voyeurs who like to see women being 'fixed' are the problem. pic.twitter.com/wFy4LGrK42
— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) September 25, 2020
Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nundy pointed to the necessity for media attention on more relevant topics, and the need to respect privacy:
Should someone allegedly asking for marijuana be prime time debate. Been on a number of debates agreeing it's a diversionary tactic, let's move on then? To
1. Demolition of Parliament
2. Farmers protests
3. Massive joblessness
4. Doklam https://t.co/jv0H0vQjQR
— Karuna Nundy (@karunanundy) September 24, 2020
Notably, actor Urmila Mantodkar was among the few who tried to bring some much-needed attention to the farmers’ protests:
Wake up n Rise India!!
It’s 25th September..stand by our farmers. Most certainly Not with the media circus we will be subjected to. We have to decide what kind of a country we are going to be 🙏🏼#FarmersProtest #किसान_बचाओ_देश_बचाओ #JaiJawanJaiKisan 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/CTwKVSsAcE
— Urmila Matondkar (@UrmilaMatondkar) September 25, 2020
While actor Kangana Ranaut equated the protesting farmers to terrorists, journalist Arfa Khanum expressed concern over the same possibility:
Several anti-CAA protesters have been booked under UAPA and termed as ‘terrorists’ for protesting and exercising their right to dissent.
Will the agitating farmers be given the same treatment ? #farmersbill #FarmersProtest #FarmBill2020
— Arfa Khanum Sherwani (@khanumarfa) September 20, 2020
Author and journalist Nilanjana Roy made a poignant comment on the sorry state of the country today:
I wish I could write to every thriving democracy to say never take your freedoms and institutions for granted.
The bulldozing of Parliament; the FCRA amendments, the Farmer's Bill; political prisoners; a poisonous media. It is saddening beyond words to see everything crumble.
— Nilanjana Roy (@nilanjanaroy) September 23, 2020
Meanwhile, the irony of only female stars in Bollywood being named in the drug abuse case was not lost on many. Veteran journalists Barkha Dutt and Sagarika Ghose were among those who commented on it, with a hint of sarcasm:
So, No men "Do Drugs" in the movie industry? You mean they are high on just testosterone ? Erm.
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) September 22, 2020
India still struggles for womens’ reservation in Parliament & for equal status for women, yet for India’s Narcotics Control Bureau when it comes to smoking weed, only women actors are able to do it. Male actors only drink milk every morn like good boys. Do give us a break. #NCB pic.twitter.com/mKdPARbce9
— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) September 24, 2020
Lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan also took a dig at the media for hounding Deepika:
Republic TV finally won the Nobel prize for investigative journalism! They managed to take their car next to Deepika Padukone's car! Wow! pic.twitter.com/xFqXhfuAwD
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) September 25, 2020
Also Read: Deepika Padukone, You Deserve Better.
Stressing on one of the biggest issues facing women across the world, actress Dia Mirza -who is also an Ambassador for the United Nations- shared a significant statement:
"One out of every three women in the world lives with violence."
-- @phumzileunwomen discusses women's rights with @deespeak, @FilippoGrandi, @Refugees supporter Mary Maker and @AJStream’s @FemiOke. https://t.co/OxKtFnjP34 #SDGLive pic.twitter.com/fOWzekPSkx
— United Nations (@UN) September 23, 2020
Nishtha Satyam, the Deputy Country Representative at UN Women (India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka at UN) also sent out a reminder for the safety of rural women:
The primary goal to be achieved for Rural Women are the gender-sensitive challenges.
Instead of suppressing these challenges, we need to give them a voice & work toward ascertaining solutions for it.#AatmaNirbarAurat #RuralWomenSafety pic.twitter.com/sG2T6mzovG
— Nishtha Satyam (@SatyamNishtha) September 24, 2020
Let us watch out for what antics Indian media would come up with, in the coming days.