Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who has landed in a controversy after a news channel released his wife Sunanda Pushkar’s murder tapes, hit out at the “trial by media” at an event in Mumbai on Friday. “In ancient times, India put the falsely accused through agnipariksha, trial by fire. Today, it puts its falsely accused through trial by media,” said Tharoor, in Mumbai as the chief guest at a media award function.
Tharoor also made an indirect reference to the news channel that aired 19 audio tapes in an alleged “expose” in the case. “Sadly, not everyone in the media values truth over TRPs. I’ve had occasions to say in the past couple of days that it is the job of the media to be the witness of our society. It is not the job of the media to be the prosecution, the executioner and the judge rolled into one,” he said.
The former diplomat said that media was a messenger which wielded power, but was also bound by responsibility. “Media is a mirror that exists not to flatter, but to reveal what is lacking in our society, which is flawed and must be corrected,” said Tharoor at the first edition of South Asia Laadli Media and Advertising Awards for Gender sensitivity. He said that the media must break gender stereotypes and not reinforce them.
While the award has been around for a decade, this is the first time the awards, presented by Population First, recognised the works of journalists from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Mauritius.Lubna Jerar Naqvi from Pakistan won but could not make it to the function. In a video message, she said her visa was not approved. Nepal’s Ramkala Khadka, Sri Lanka’s Dinitha Ratnayake and Mauritius’ Martine Luchmun collected their awards.
Feminist and poet Kamla Bhasin, who was awarded the lifetime achievement award, brought the JNU slogan of Azadi to Mumbai while accepting the award. The award function recognised efforts of journalists, advertisers and filmmakers for gender sensitivity in their work. A Vicks ad, featuring transgender single mother Gauri Sawant, too, was awarded. Dr A L Sharada, director of Population First, said that the awards were a part of the organisation’s effort to take the discussion around gender to the mainstream.