11 May, 2021

Let's Frame This Debate, Nail It And Hang It

In the Tarun Tejpal rape case, the Indian media, particularly television news, has more or less censored opinion that isn’t popular

Illustration by Sorit
Let's Frame This Debate, Nail It And Hang It

I am writing from a distance where I presume the newly anointed liberal furies won’t get to me. Once upon a time, lynch mobs used to roam the streets. After the Tehelka scandal, they seem to have moved into TV newsrooms, ready to pounce on perceived heretics. In the so-called debates on TV on the Tarun Tejpal rape case, I have seen fellow-liberals display disturbing levels of intolerance, the sort once associated with right-wing fanatics. A waspish illiberalism that belonged to the fringes has gone mainstream and become respectable: woe betide anyone who dares to stray from the script. Try offering a comment the TV vigilantes do not want to hear. You’ll be lucky to keep your dignity intact.

People with impeccable liberal credentials have been gagged or shouted down for suggesting that the law take its own course. Journalist Padma Rao Sundarji was humiliated and forced to shut up by NDTV anchor Barkha Dutt and co-panelists Shobha De and Kavita Krishnan. She had dared to say that the media “vilification of both the victim and the villain”...

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