Sex and the Indian Journos.


Yearly  ‘Sex Surveys’ by magazines are now a norm.

(Published first in The Hoot Feb 2016.) 

One of the many books I ordered from Amazon to read in the new year was journalist Avirook Sen’s book,  ‘Aarushi’ . But  frankly I  had no intention of going anywhere near it until I had ploughed through  books on my current passion- astronomy and evolutionary biology.

So ‘Aarushi’,  with the rather unimaginative cover (embossed blood  drops) lay buried under E. O. Wilson, Carl Sagan, Jared Diamond, for most of January. It was rescued from the heap when I attended a panel discussion at the 2016 Jaipur Lit Fest, where  senior journalist Madhu Trehan remarked that, had Avirook  been in America, he would have won the Pulitzer !

Being a sucker for phoren  validations, I quickly substituted the   big-bangs, worm holes, gene pools, and natural selection  for the hurly burly world of crime, cops, hacks and sundry inanities.

The book is deeply distressing. You  come away thinking that  god forbid if you are in a soup one day,  there may  be no hope. The cops are incompetent and will screw you if they want to screw you.

 Our so called forensic experts, who can harness the wonders of science to silence conjecture are either bumbling fools or can easily be tutored to present their findings anywhere the strings are pulled.

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Nupur Talwal who the media said did not cry that much.

And the  courts, the last bastion of remedy and redress  can sometimes arrive at a judgment even before the defense has completed its  arguments. (Presiding over the Aarushi-Hemraj case, Judge Shyam Lal began typing out the judgment even before the  Talwar’s  lawyer had begun making  his final arguments, claims Sen).

But what really got my goat was the role of the media. In every whodunit cases like this, the media has been held by the scuff of its neck as it were and made to sniff any shit the cops chooses to shove  its way.

Covering crime is a right of passage for any reporter, so I too have had my brush with the crime beat.  It usually goes like this. Someone is murdered. You go to the scene where the cops officially tell you one thing. You talk to the relatives, neighbors and other players and they each give their versions.  But you also have some ‘source’ (who conveniently goes unnamed in all your stories).

 The ‘source’ usually calls you up with a leak . Even if it is freakishly  absurd you feel privileged with the info and go to town with the ‘exclusive’.

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Gurdarshan Singh (IGP), calls the 13 year old Aarushi ‘characterless’ and the media lap it all up.

You would have to be a nincompoop be believe that the scurrilous stories of orgies and  wife swappings concerning  the  Talwars had something to with the twin murders, even if they were true. But they   were served up that way by the cops and the media faithfully presented them as facts, insinuating by extension  that the Talwars were guilty.

Why does the media obsess with sex so much? Writing about the blundering cops,    Sen quotes senior journalist Vir Sanghvi.

“This is not a sex crime So why is the Noida police going on and on about sex, ruining the reputation of the dead and the living without a shred of evidence?

My guess is that they are not just incompetent, they are also sex starved. Perhaps the IGP needs professional help”.

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Channels like Times Now said they felt ‘vindicated’ after the guilty verdict.

Sanghvi could well have been talking about his own reporters on the case or about journalists at large. Journalists like cops are sex starved and any whiff of sex will get them into a mad frenzy. And the cops know this only too well. They both after all feed on the same dirty dish.

Spend any length of time with a group of journalists and the topic of sex somehow always wafts up like the putrid passing of wind that everyone at the table wants to acknowledge. It is usually   gossip about the sexual prolificacies of the   rich and the famous and has the usual  cast of characters including Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Deepika Padukone, Sachin Tendulkar etc. etc. Stories of their sexual escapades are presented in lurid details and embellished with each retelling. The stories are not offered as light hearted blather mind you, but as  facts and upon  journalistic authority and ‘first hand’ information.

Most journalists,  unlike maybe the jet setting Sanghvi, come from the middle class  and represent middle class values and obsessions. They like  to believe in the salacious exploits  of  others because these stories makes them feel better about their own sexually repressed lives. Nothing makes the middle class feel more moral than when they discuss the sexual immoralities of others. Outrageous sex stories about the celebrities bring them down a peg or two and make them look more human. And this is helpful because journalists brush shoulders with the famous but can never actually be them.

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Moninder Singh Pandher’s dissolute life which made the media link him to the murders.

It would be okay if the journalists stopped at being just prurient purveyors.  God help you if you are accused of any crime and you have had an extramarital fling or two or if a   stash of Sunny Leone porn is found on your laptop.  Your sexual peccadillos will be paraded as proof of your guilt. You- do –sex- so- you -must -do -murder-too is the harebrained logic. Never mind if the  narco analysis does not suggest it, or there are no eye-witnesses, or if  your  finger prints are not there, or as in the case of  Moninder Singh Pandher, – co-accused in  the infamous Nithari serial murders- you are not even in  the country when the murders take place.

The Pandher case is  another sad example of miscarriage of justice brought  on by a sustained  media’s trail that careened  out of course because of sex.  Pandher was made a villain by the media after his appetite for prostitutes came to the fore. The dots from debauchee   to murderer were joined quickly even though the CBI admitted it had not a shred of evidence linking him to the murders.

A job of a journalist is somewhat like that of a scientist. You claim something only if you have the facts. Aristotle asserted as far back as 340 BC that the world is round. But he did so only after painstaking calculations and observations like for example how one sees the ship’s sails on the horizon long before one sees the hull.   Journalists spot a convict even before they have surveyed the crime. In the 21st century India we journalists need to banish ourselves from the flat world we inhabit.  More importantly, while reporting, we must keep at home our middleclass morality, so we can see not in blinkered binaries but in multi shades of grey.

One Response to “Sex and the Indian Journos.”

  1. Ushamrita says:

    You really think this phenomenon to be true only of Indian journos? Since we are being pretty generic here, sex sells big time in the land of Playboy, too! ‘Natural’ human tendency, nothing more, I feel. But yes, using sex as an excuse to slander/indict someone of a ‘crime’ is as scientific as formulating an uninformed opinion. We writers/journos need to grow up & get scientifuck with our reportage/opinions.

    Sorry, I meant scientific. 😀

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