Outlook can’t see beyond clothes and appearance of a lady IAS officer

First take a look at the following cartoon published by the weekly magazine Outlook:

outlook-cartoon

What could a drawing depicting a lady on the ramp being lecherously watched by some politicians convey? Since it is a cartoon published in a “respected” magazine, it must be making a satirical comment?

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No, it is not shaming politicians for enjoying fashion shows at expense of taxpayer’s money, nor is it any smart comment on how entertainment industry and politics are linked. And don’t strain your brain further; there is no visual metaphor here.

It is a crass tasteless depiction of a young IAS officer who is working in the Chief Minister’s Office in Telangana. And it is a part of a “gossip” that was deemed fit to be published in a column tragically titled “Deep Throat”.

Deep Throat was name of the anonymous source whose revelations forced a US President to resign. His revelations were in public interest. But here, Outlook is publishing sexist trash under the same name.

Look what they have to say about this young IAS officer Smita Sabharwal, who had qualified in the UPSC examinations at a young age and had secured an all India rank of 4:

The lady is present at every meeting and seen in almost every official photograph sent out by the CMO. But what she does exactly is a puzzle. She makes a fashion statement with her lovely saris and serves as “eye candy” at meetings, admit leading party politicians.

So Outlook wonders what exactly does Smita, Additional Secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office, do. Maybe check with the government what Additional Secretaries do. But instead of checking with the government, they talked to “leading party politicians” who “admitted” that she serves as “eye candy at meetings”.

Lovely! So some politicians tell an Outlook journalist that a lady IAS officer serves as “eye candy” for them. And the journalist thinks that instead of exposing this sexist mentality of those politicians, it will be good to write this gossip and cast aspersions on the lady.

Perhaps this explains their hit job against Smriti Irani earlier, where instead of wondering if their unnamed “sources” could be talking trash, the magazine thought to publish their gossip as gospel truth.

The note on the lady officer further says:

In fact, it’s this bureaucrat who calls up other officials in the CMO and asks them to come for meetings. She knows exactly what time the CM will arrive and leave the office.

Well, at least the journalist now knows she arranges meetings, so what exactly she does is not really a “puzzle” as it was earlier claimed. However, the worst insinuation is in the second line – she knows exactly what time the CM will arrive and leave the office – what exactly is Outlook trying to convey?

Given the kind of mentality they had shown in the earlier part, it’s not tough to guess what the journalist is trying to do. And it’s shameful. No wonder, a fellow journalist termed it “yellow journalism”:

However, that’s not all; the note has more of sexism and insinuations if you hadn’t enough. It says:

The lovely lady, known for her ethnic style, recently stunned all by appearing in a trendy trouser and frilly top at a fashion show. And for once, she wasn’t sitting in an official meeting. But this appearance too made for a great photo op.

So the entire existence of this lady officer has been reduced to what she wears and how she appears.

For Outlook, Smita Sabharwal might be “known for her ethnic style” only, but for people of Telangana, she is known for her work. Recently, the CMO received a request to transfer her to fluoride-affected Nalgonda as collector, because she had done impressive work when she served Karimnagar and Medak districts. But for Outlook, her trendy trouser and frilly top is what defines her.

It is indeed surprising and shocking how editors are allowing such gossip to get published. And this is not limited to Outlook magazine only. If you had missed our article on how media showed its sexist mentality when reporting on Vasundhara Raje, read here


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