View from the right: Gender & Mediahttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/view-from-the-right-gender-media/

View from the right: Gender & Media

Gandhi regarded Hindu-Muslim unity and the abolition of untouchability as two of the most important aspects of his programme.

With the country celebrating the festival of female power, Navratri, the editorial in the Organiser analyses intellectual explanations of a trend in the film industry that stereotypes and discriminates against women. Pointing out that a study commissioned by the Geena Davis Institute, on gender in the media, has concluded that popular films across the most profitable markets give only the “third space” to the female characters, it says: “In fact, many intellectuals justify this trend on two counts: one is ‘freedom of expression’ and the other is the ‘demand-supply law of the market’. Both these justifications stem from the same ideological roots of [the] Western concept of liberty and choices.”

The editorial complains that this has become a trend in Indian society only after liberalisation. Although sensuality and intimacy were part of popular films initially, these were not used as a marketing tool: “So like other products, market is created for stereotypes like ‘Beauty Queens’ and ‘Item Songs’. Now this beauty or item has to be a woman. If it was just a matter of demand only, then good films like Merry Kom [sic] would not have done excellent business.” It also asks how many women depicting themselves as commodities do it of “free” choice, arguing that the time is ripe to denounce this trend and start a movement against the commodification of women. The editorial also says that it has to be challenged ideologically to reflect the Indian view of empowerment, according to which the man-woman relationship
is complimentary, rather than being exclusive.

GANDHI LOST

Alleging that Gandhi Jayanti has been reduced to a ritual and advertisement blitz, a cover story in the Organiser says the reason could be “the penchant of our leaders to reduce the importance of great men by limiting their message to the area of their birth or to the caste of his birth.” Pointing out that the youth is becoming more and more ignorant of what Gandhi had stood for, it takes a dig at the members of the Nehru-Gandhi family, saying “some descendants of erstwhile followers of Gandhiji, who bear the similar surname as Gandhi, make people believe that they are the scions of the great Mahatma.” The article says Gandhi regarded Hindu-Muslim unity and the abolition of untouchability as two of the most important aspects of his programme for the freedom and regeneration of India. While he succeeded in his fight against untouchability, he could could not get the other. Gandhi had accepted the division of the country only because “he was left alone and was being constantly ignored by Nehru and Patel; and he could not challenge them, unless he was in a position to provide for an alternative leadership.”

RIGHT MOMENT

Amavasya during Pitru Paksh is not considered auspicious, but India and the Hindu religion hold that whatever is good for the human race is what the gods want. That’s why Amavasya was not a reason to delay launching the Mangalyaan project, claims the editorial in Panchjanya. While the celebrations over the success of the Mars Orbiter Mission have given way to celebrating goddess Durga’s glory, one has to learn certain lessons from Mangalyaan. The article also says that the first lesson should be that we should always learn from others’ mistakes. The MOM has learned its lessons from the Mars projects launched by Japan in 1998 (Nozomi Orbiter), seven of the US missions have failed and so did China’s one project and Indian scientists have taken lessons from all these. Second, one should understand that we are not competing with anybody. Praising the Indian scientists for making it a success on such a small budget, it says, “It was possible because of the unique mix of cost efficiency and skill by the scientists.” The success is also the fruit of ISRO scientists’ hard work and determination. The timing was very crucial and India’s scientists got it right.

Compiled by Liz Mathew