Home Media India's Daughter - the takeaways and the concerns

India’s Daughter – the takeaways and the concerns

Like many, I watched the BBC 4 documentary ‘India’s Daughter.’ In this day and age, attempting to keep content out of public purview is self defeating and even foolish. While there may be valid legal objections to the film maker’s methods, it might be prudent for the Indian government to de-escalate the eminently avoidable row over a “ban,” which has taken away from the fundamental issues which surround the matter.

My first reaction to the documentary, which was marketed loosely along the lines of a rapist ‘speaking for the first time on TV’ was ‘should a convicted rapist be given a megaphone on national television?’ On watching the film, my objection ceded way to a sense of ‘it seems to have served a greater cause.’ NDTV and the film maker, Leslee Udwin may have erred in their marketing approach. I will concede that we live in a world of compromises, and television studios too confront business and commercial compulsions every day. But, they may have crossed a line with their attention-grabbing gimmick, which served to fuel pre-conceived distrust about their intent. There was really no need (even from a crass business-like promotional standpoint) to promote a rapist when the message clearly is about ‘India’s daughter.’

Untitled

- Ad - - article resumes -

Speaking of which, the film seems to have been titled rather unfortunately. Rape is a global problem. There is plenty of data and anecdotal evidence that suggests that the problem of rape, by no means, is isolated to India or other developing countries. By titling it, ‘India’s Daughter,’ (which I’m sure was done with the best of intentions) the filmmaker has (perhaps unwittingly) fueled a stereotype around India and rape. Make no mistake. India does undeniably have a serious problem with containing crimes against women. So does the rest of the world. Creating the perception that India somehow is more troubled than other countries in this matter has taken away from the core issues of the problem. It perpetuates the commonly held impression of a condescending Westerner with a sense of misplaced ‘duty’ trying to right the wrongs of a former colony. Leslee Udwin may, for all we know, be an Indophile and she may have the best interests at heart for India. But she hasn’t served her cause well with the theatrics and messaging.

Reactions to the video and the consequent ban have been global. Nicholas Kristoff, an influential New York Times columnist, tweeted expressing hope that the Indian government will spend more time addressing the rape problem than on enforcing the ban. Google took down the video one day after it surfaced on Youtube. Twitter has been abuzz with combative postures. I don’t watch Indian or any other television for news any more. So I can’t comment meaningfully on their coverage. But I did watch Sonia Singh’s interview of a motley crew, which included Ms Udwin, none of whom was a qualified social scientist with credentials to add to a topic with as much gravitas as this.

A mainstream columnist portrayed the negativity towards the video as largely (99.9%, no less!) male chauvinistic and from men ‘unwilling to look in the mirror.’ The same person went on describe the film as ‘crap’ and ‘patronizing.’ Such sweeping statements only helped accelerate the discourse off topic into a tug of war between feminists and ‘monstrous men,’ between India and the West, and added no perceptible value to discussion.

In parallel, there was commentary about ‘a western conspiracy to defame India,’ a theory onto which the government of India has unfortunately latched. Perhaps, we should be grateful to the West for their gracious efforts in solving India’s rape problem, even as they continue to be unmindful of their serious own deficiencies in this area. Case in point: A girl from Steubenville, Ohio was raped by a gang of athletes around the same time the horrific event in Delhi in 2012. And yet it never received the mainstream media’s attention that it deserved.

The US continues to lead the world in crimes against women. Rapes on US campuses have reached epidemic proportions. A third of all college women are sexually assaulted on campus every year. The rest of the Western hemisphere does not fare significantly better. And yet, India continues to be treated as the only problem child by the West. However, I’m grateful for that attention because India can use all the help it can get, on this very serious matter. I prefer to take the commentary in a spirit of constructive problem solving, even if some of it may be questionable in intent.

Are all Indian men misogynists and potential rapists? Do they need a mirror held up to them by a convicted, unrepentant rapist? Is this a conspiracy to defame India? Or, is it merely an attempt to drive higher ratings, win awards and accrue personal fame and fortune? Are these the right questions to expend valuable time on? Do these questions make for valuable discourse? Answers to a few of the questions are self-evident. In other cases, they are worthless. Answers are worthless if the questions are worthless.

What did I take away from the documentary? Does it serve the ‘purpose of overall good,’ all things considered? I believe it did. Clearly, this is a matter of opinion. The film moved me. Jyoti Singh’s words haunt me. “There is no one above a doctor.” Here was a young woman, so filled with promise and who had traveled such a great distance in the pursuit of her dreams, who was snuffed out mercilessly even as she stood at the gates to her heaven. I do not know if we can ever forgive ourselves. We certainly cannot forget. This is a scar that will never heal. Jyoti Singh is not alone. Girls and women before her have suffered enormous pain.

Girls and women after her continue to do so. We have all suffered enormous pain and heartbreak. While we feel righteous anger and despair, we cannot afford to let negativity drag us into a spiral of self-flagellation and self-destruction. We cannot afford to turn human tragedies into political theater and a circus orchestrated by self-serving propagandists. We must listen to our inner voices. We must put aside our misgivings, biases and fears. We must not shoot messengers who give us bad news. We must learn that, sometimes, the best of messages can come to us from those with even the most dubious of intentions.. We must learn to separate the wheat from the chaff, and the genuine problem solvers from charlatans. We must amplify the voices of those who genuinely care. We owe Jyoti Singh and all women decency in our discourse.

Can rape ever be “fixed”? Even a country with enormous resources such as the United States has failed spectacularly so far. Does India even have a prayer? Are women doomed and condemned to vagaries of fortune? The picture is a troubling one; one that should keep us awake at night. It is one that cannot be solved without the coming together of minds. I applaud LesleeUdwin for making the film. It has served the purpose of stirring an important debate. I hope the government will allow every one to see it. I hope it will make us all think about the world in which we find ourselves.

The film, to me, provided a subtle and critical insight. There is a battle that is going on, between the progressive and regressive parts of India. This is not a battle between men and women. It’s not a rich versus poor battle. It’s not really a class war. It’s a war between the challenger and the incumbent in India. Six men decided to punish a young woman on a fateful night because she didn’t conform to their view of India. She was punished for being progressive. She was punished for being a woman. She was punished for having a mind of her own. As we ponder solutions, it is worth keeping this in mind. We have to note that there are those among us, who will rape and murder in order to enforce their belief system; that women are more often than not at the receiving end of such retrograde, primal and punitive instincts. We must take our considered positions on this and act in concert to further a greater cause. There can be no greater cause than this. We must force our government to appreciatethe nuances and frame the debate appropriately, for it plays a critical role in how we move forward.

We must urgently put aside our personal affiliations and prejudices and unite to answer the most pressing question of our times: What are we going to do to make our women valued, respected and influential members of our families, societies and countries? No nation deserves greatness if it cannot answer this. And we the people certainly will not deserve forgiveness if we fail to answer this for ourselves.

@waatho

Help Opindia Reach Every Indian. Share This Post
We need your support to survive in the media industry. Please consider paying us for the content we produce:

To know more about these payments, please click here.


Big Story

Sanjay Leela Bhansali set to produce an hour-long movie based on the life of PM Modi and is titled Mann Bairagi.

2019 World Cup Is Here!

Catch the latest on Cricket World Cup as it unfolds, special coverage by Opindia

To Advertise on Opindia.com Click here

‘Professional Congress’ member posts promotional tweets for 500 rupees, blames ‘social media manager’ after having defended tweet

Flipkart Big Billion Sale is here and well, 'Congress supporters' would like to earn a few quick bucks.

‘Kashmir free from shackles of Pakistan sponsored terrorism’: Pakistani org representing Pashtuns refuses to support Imran Khan’s Kashmir protest, backs India

Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), the principal body representing Pashtuns in Pakistan, has rejected Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent call to all people in which he urged them to come out and support Pakistan’s narrative on Kashmir. 

Prashant Kishor’s team starts reaching out to media and influencers with ‘paid content’ offers ahead of West Bengal assembly elections

Darjeeling Chronicle has exposed how Prashant Kishor led IPAC is reaching out to 'influencers' and digital portals to carry out paid campaigning for TMC and Mamata Banerjee ahead of 2021 West Bengal state elections

Suvarna news anchor wants scientist arrested for his sarcastic Tweet about ‘Mysore Pak’, claims his act was ‘seditious’

The anchor of Suvarna news, Jayaprakash Shetty has now asked for the arrest of scientist Ranganathan for claiming Mysore Pak belonged to Tamil Nadu in a sarcastic Tweet
Stopped for traffic rules violation, Delhi girl threatens suicide

Watch: Stopped by traffic cops, Delhi girl threatens with suicide, helmet attack and then her mother

The girl was reportedly stopped for the broken license plate on her two-wheeler. When the traffic police demanded to see the scooter's documents, she stated that she had no papers.
Image Source: twitter

Malala Yousafzai spreads fake news, claims girl from Kashmir missed her exams on August 12 which was an Eid holiday

According to Malala, one of the three girls from Kashmir missed her exams on August 12. However, August 12 is a notified holiday declared across the country by Government of India on the occasion of Bakr Id or Eid ul-Adha.

Kannada media spreads fake news, accuses Nirmala Sitaraman of ‘giving’ Mysorepak to Tamil Nadu

No one had expected that a huge controversy would erupt over the issue of Mysore Pak, which originated in Mysuru during the rule of Wodeyar dynasty.
Sharad pawar invents a new excuse to shift the blame of the defeat in the Lok Sabha polls

Pakistan hospitable, BJP govt spreading lies about Pakistan for political gains: NCP supremo Sharad Pawar at minority event

NCP chief Sharad Pawar expressed his admiration for terror state Pakistan stating that the people of Pakistan are "very hospitable" while blaming BJP govt for spreading lies about Pakistan for political gains
N Ram slams courts and judges, says Chidambaram's arrest is 'monstrous injustice'

The Hindu Chairman doubles up as judge, gives clean chit to Chidambaram at a Congress event, says ‘no evidence’ against him

Ram even did not even spare the judges of the Supreme Court. He stated that there are factual mistakes in the order of justices Bhanumathi and Bopanna.
Subscribe to Day's Top Stories
[newsletter_form type="minimal"]
- Advertisment -

Latest articles

Connect with us

182,787FansLike
180,279FollowersFollow
97,446SubscribersSubscribe
Help Opindia Reach Every Indian. Share This Post