Monday, February 23, 2009

Someone is wrong on the internet ...

... and that someone is the editorial team at Mint.

Mint carried an editorial today on the Pink Chaddi campaign to name and shame the bunch of thugs who issued a threat to women's safety. Remember, the threat was a credible one, as it was made immediately after a violent crime in Mangalore. The Pink Chaddi campaign was successful in shining a bright spotlight on those violent thugs. I think it can take some of the credit when they called a halt to their 'plans' for the Valentine's Day -- at least in some parts of the state.

The rest of this post is a addressed directly to the editors.

* * *

WTF, Mint Editors? I really, really mean it. WTF?

In the first of your two accusations, you say that the Pink Chaddi campaign has "failed to raise the issue that gender injustice in India goes beyond pub-going and Valentine's Day."

Tell me, how does fighting a clear and imminent threat to women's safety somehow preclude a battle for broader gender justice? Why should it? By the same token, why should the longer term battle against entrenched inequity come in the way of a short term protest aimed at thwarting a mob that issued a specific threat -- in the here and now?

I'm sure you'll agree that the long term battle against gender inequity needs all the help it needs, and therefore, it'll benefit from a diversity of approaches and tactics. Doesn't it then follow that this hugely successful campaign has opened up an important new way of fighting that battle? Is it so difficult to see that this success can be translated to other situations? Also, isn't it valuable that it has probably brought a certain awareness about gender issues to a lot of people?

An implicit assumption in your editorial is that the Pink Chaddi campaign is a one shot deal. That the groups behind it, having achieved some measure of success, will just go to a life of pub-going comfort, and forget the larger battle. Is there any evidence to support this assumption? On the contrary, the main group behind that campaign has already issued a call for its next action: This is Indian Culture.

Towards the end of your editorial, you offer your second 'critique':

The speed of the internet let [the Pink Chaddi campaign] spill into the real world. It's a pity that nobody thought of such measures when a management student in the National capital region was gangraped a few months ago. How about having a "Consortium of Rape-revolting, Angry and Ambitious Women" that would twitter through the year against gender injustices rather than just support sporadic sentiments?

Shame on you!

Shame on you for exploiting a horrible crime for your silly purpose of belittling a successful campaign. Shame on you for conflating this crime (with an identifiable victim) with the threat issued by a powerful mob to endanger the safety and dignity of a large number women.

And shameonyou, shameonyou, shameonyou for using a crime to beat up on women's groups, when your newspaper has not even bothered to report on that very crime.

[Yes, I checked. Again. And again. And yes, your pathetic little sermon set me off on this morbid search.]

You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.


  1. Samia said...

    Brilliant. Those folks have some nerve...

  2. Tanuj Lakhina said...

    That's a fabulous post.Real good spot and shame on Mint people for jumping to their conclusions without having anything to back up on.

  3. bongopondit said...

    Those folks have some nerve...

    Nerve to point out gender inequalities in India ?
    I am not sure what your angst is about this editorial. I do not see how it put down the PC campaign, there has been much harsher criticisms of the campaign on the net. The piece is suggesting that there are wider gender issues that do need to be addressed and feels that the Pink Chaddi campaign failed to address those. How is that a very unreasonable opinion and why should Mint be 'ashamed' of publishing that opinion? Unless you are privy to some more information whereby you know that Mint has an agenda in belittling the organizers of the said campaign.

    I agree that the last para of the editorial is perhaps a tad melodramatic, although your main issue seems to be that they are talking about an event they did not report in their paper !!! You have to remember that Mint is in general business newspaper and does not cover the sort of story you are looking for (this was OTOH, an editorial opinion piece).

  4. Anonymous said...

    Every point raised in the editorial seems perfectly valid, Sir. Then why such anger?

    Besides, until now, I thought that every individual newspaper in a democratic country was free to editorialize whatever it deemed apt and that was well within their rights, Professor. Has that not been the case? Like every individual blogger.. May be that freedom, in your opinion, doesn't extend to those ones which dare to express views that do not align with a certain variety of political train of thought. News indeed.

    Arun Kumar

  5. Anonymous said...

    "Mint" goes on further to state:
    -----Why only sex ratio? The literacy and primary school dropout rates, health indicators, .....all tell a sorry tale.-------------------
    They don't seem to envisage the possibility that if the Caretakers of "Culture" would have their way, in the next decade we may have to deal with differentials in number of women who venture out, no of women who have the freedom to choose their clothes, no of women who eat and drink as per their choice, etc and in the next century - no of women who measure more than half the height of men, no of women who can handle anything but the basic tasks, no of women who are addressed by their children with respect etc ...

    Anyway, women as a category have grown beyond such intimidation...


  6. Anonymous said...

    Shame on the paper for asking to broaden the cyber campaigns? Professor, the edit is not a "little sermon" but your blog post sure is. -- A fellow blogger

  7. Animesh said...

    @Abi: I went and read the editorial, and agree with your WTF.

    Most of all, my problem is that they authors of this post seem to have not read the "what next" post for the campaign that you have linked to. Sadness.


  8. milieu said...

    My concern with the Pink Chaddi Campaign (PC) is that it seems to polarize public opinion.

    I am sure that a great majority of Indians, men and women, take Muthalik and Co for the thugs they truly are. But there is a sizeable portion who are concerned with the influence of western culture.

    And if the PC campaign by its eye ball grabbing tactics manage in the end to alienate only the moderate conservatives rather than doing anything worthwhile to alleviate the massive gender inequality (as pointed out by Mint), then it should be shame on the PC campaign.

    The outrage should be directed against why even after more than 60 years of independence, Indian daughters are being treated so shabbily.

    If the PC campaign had taken exception to the throttling of individual freedom and liberty, then they would get much broader public support. Instead now they appear as hard-core feminist movement and thats an ideology thats not popular now in the west.
    They may have glorious agenda's on their website and so might Muthalik on his.

  9. revathi said...

    A very good post. I think we need more campaigns like this. Gender equality may be there on paper but reality is so different. Women in India have come a long way since 1947 but a lot of people want them to remain where tradition kept them- chained for ever.

  10. Anonymous said...

    Abi, thank you for drawing attention to this. Mint's agenda is on this issue clear; it is the same as that of the so-called "Indian National Interest" (which has nothing Indian or National about it).

    Let me illustrate this with a real life example. Nitin Pai, who writes for both, employs a clever tactic by means of which he occupies the moral high ground at the Acorn. Let's say someone leaves an inconvenient comment on his blog like no. 29 on this post

    He will not respond to it, which is fair, since it is so clearly off-topic. But wait, what he then does is pass on the information to this blogger, a far less classy, crass and savage version of Hindutva who calls female commenters who doesn't like comment 5 "bitches in heat", who "can't open their brains unless they close their legs".

    This guy, who represents precisely what the INI bloggers think privately, then lets loose at the "offensive" (to the INI) piece of news flagged up by the commenter with this post

    The less clever specimen, Sandeep, sometimes credits Nitin and sometimes doesn't. Read other recent posts to figure this out. If you read both blogs regularly and compare dates, the pattern is clear. This is something similar that leads to anonymous saffron commenters descending on women's blogs saying "I will fukk ur face, bitch" when they write something inconvenient. Smart, no?

    And to think that I voted for the BJP twice (shakes head in disgust). Never again.


  11. Anonymous said...

    There is a solution to this. I urge everyone including the 53,000 or so members of the Pink Chaddi group to VOTE. VOTE against illiberal, fundamentalist, sectarian parties, be they Hindu or Muslim or anything else.

    You can do so by registering to vote on this really easy website



  12. Anonymous said...

    The problem with the Pink Chaddi campaign was that it got a huge amount of publicity. If it were a small campaign that had barely made a splash, nobody would've cared for precisely that reason: no mileage. Because of its success, it is an easy target for armchair editorial-ists everywhere. It's always easier to criticize than to take action.

  13. Nitin Pai said...

    Anonymous (Ajith) and Abi,

    I am writing this comment to set the record straight after the slanderous allegations made in the comment above.

    1. Apart from occasional op-eds that I write for Mint, there is no relationship between me and the paper. But I do hold the paper and it's editorial team in high regard.

    2. Whole world, yellow & jaundice: if someone you don't like takes a position that you like, you accuse the person of taking 'a moral high ground'. Sorry to disappoint you for not being as odious as you would like me to be.

    3. Nothing Indian or National about INI? Seriously? It is possible to disagree without hurling wild allegations about motives.

    4. There are over 3000 posts and 12000 comments on the Acorn. Anyone can read and link to them. I dont respond to all of them; off-topic comments are usually deleted but some do survive. Some bloggers might link more often than others...but seeing patterns is really an exercise of a biased, over-fertile imagination.

    5. As Abi can attest to, holding bloggers responsible for comments left by others is generally a bad idea.

  14. Anonymous said...

    This allegation against INI and Acorn and Sandeep is quite funny. Do you know Abi and jagadguru (he cannot form one sentence without insulting someone) refer to one another ? These allegations are really hypocritical. Lets talk about substance rather than imputing motives.

  15. Abi said...

    Ajith: Did you really need to talk here about Acorn? Does it have anything at all to do with my post about an editorial in Mint?

    Nitin: Thanks for dropping by and setting the record straight. I'm sorry that you needed to be dragged into this ...