A few days back, my college -Indraprastha College for Women- had organized a seminar on ‘Silence- Kya Chuppi Bhi Bolti Hai?’, and we had the good fortune to listen to Mr. Ravish Kumar (senior journalist, NDTV) speak. Mr. Ravish Kumar is well known for his show ‘Ravish Ki Report’, in which he brings out the various problems in our society. One this occasion he talked about how the ones who speak form an entirely different ‘jaat’ of their own. They come from the upper class, influential families, with a lot of contacts and resources at their disposal. Usually males, these ‘speakers’ insist that they are anti-caste and in favor of equality, even though starting from their very name down to their action, everything screams caste and class discrimination. In his field of work, Mr. Kumar comes across many downtrodden people who come to him with their complaints, hoping he would speak for them. When he asked them why they don’t speak up themselves, he received a very meek answer; ‘Hum kaise kuch bole, Saab?’(How can we say anything, Sir?)
This is the condition of India today. Our Constitution guarantees Freedom of Speech but people are afraid to speak up. And why wouldn’t they be, I ask? Every other day we see someone losing their job for speaking up, those who can’t be fired get transferred to an obscure place, where there is no hope for a bright future, or else they get subdued due to some reason or another. Hence, Mr. Kumar insists that speaking is a privilege not a right in this country!
He goes on to talk about how people speak up when there is an incident like the Nirbhaya case, but the same people say absolutely nothing when the rate of rape of Dalit women increases by 500%. This fact is very distressing. Do we really not care about anything but ourselves? In a country where women are worshiped, crime against women should attract severe and immediate punishments, but nobody seems to even be slightly agitated.
He also questioned the point of watching the same news on fifty different news channels. This question struck me at my core. If we have 50 different news channels we should have 50 different news as well, leaving aside the headlines. Why don’t we get to see a news piece on the wall that was built in Haryana to isolate an entire caste? Is Modi’s dress code, while he had tea with Obama, so much more important, that every news channels talked about it and not about the thousands of workers who earn only Rs. 15 after a hard day’s labour?
This seminar was not only something that we listened to but it was an eye opener as well. As we were listening to the lecture, a particular question surfaced in most of our minds. ‘Kya sunnwale sunna chahte hai?’ (Do the listeners want to listen?) The same question was voiced by one of the students. The news channels will telecast what will bring up their TRPs. They will show news that grabs our attention. Thus, the marginalized and their problems remain unheard of. And this brings us to the next question. ‘What are we supposed to do if we do not know that a particular problem even exists?’ This question left me with a feeling of helplessness. What I didn’t quite understand, is that the people who are being neglected are also consumers, they too are voters. So, how can the members of the parliament, ignore them and their problems? And then I realized that ensuring votes by campaigning just before elections is an easy task for the ones who know how and when to speak. That’s the time some of these ‘speakers’ make hollow promises to the downtrodden to ensure their votes. But, mark my words; there will soon come a day when the silent ones won’t be silent anymore. That will be a day to witness!
Indraprastha College for Women
Interests: Music, Movies, Reading, Writing.