The picture on the left shows a screenshot from NDTV’s website, where they exclusively discusses the topic of moral policing. What caught my attention to this portion is the title of the discussion – A free country? And I couldn’t help but ponder about the same question now on the light of NDTV allegedly suing an Indian blogger from Netherlands. Are we still living in a free country and is our freedom of speech protected?
It all started out with the blogger Chyetanya Kunte (link from Google cache) blogging about 26/11 like the rest of us. And it contained an external reference (from Wikipedia) about Ms. Dutt’s reporting from Kargil. The blogger did not say/accuse anything which has not been said/accused before. But it looks like the folks at NDTV decided to sue the blogger and asked for an apology. What we see now in his blog is an ‘unconditional apology‘ and he has taken down the blog post.
I agree that it is okay to take offense. NDTV or Barkha Dutt is very well within their rights to take offense. But is suing the blogger the way to solve the matter? And suing for what? Drawing an external reference in his post? The media all over talks about the freedom of speech, liberal values and such. Especially NDTV and Barkha Dutt in particular have always talked about such causes in the recent past. But now this incident makes me wonder if all of it was just a business/marketing stunt. We have a lot of pseudo-liberals in our world anyway.
Much of the criticism that has been raised against the television media during the 26/11 terrorist attacks were genuine. We as the people of this country who help you get on with your business (don’t tell me that journalism is all about social commitment and such cliched things), holds the right to criticize the media’s wrong actions because it affects us, the people of India. Sometimes in a sharp manner, when it is needed. And if the media had cared a bit about professionalism, professional ethics and their commitment towards the society and the country, they would have taken corrective measures. But instead they go around suing people.
And it is interesting to note that the other media houses are so far silent on this issue. Scratching each others’ backs, perhaps? Sardesai ji?
And to Barkha Dutt:
I had high regards for you Maam. I even used to talk in support of you when so many people – men and women – were against you and your journalistic ways. I had thought that they were plain jealous. I thought you were a courageous woman for which I had admired you, but are you really such a fragile, insecure person who can’t take a critique or talk/discuss/debate it? (you still host that show “We The People“, right?) Or is it just that people when they are placed in the higher positions in their professions or develop a larger-than-life image in the society that they live in, become more intolerant because their ego shoots up?
The message that you are sending out to the liberal community of India and the world with this incident doesn’t look so good on you or your TV channel, Maam. Think about it. And we as bloggers of India are not going to just shut up and go scared.
Shame on you. And shame on NDTV.
Blogbharti’s coverage on the issue: