In the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in India, mainstream Indian journalists like Rahul Kanwal of TV Today (owned by India Today), Arnab Goswami (founder of Republic TV) and Sudhir Chaudhary (TV anchor and editor, Zee News) have come under fire for promoting hate against a particular community for spreading the Covid-19 virus. Of late, the targets of their programmes have been the Nizamuddin Markaz of the Tableeghi Jamaat in New Delhi and Madrasas.
According to Suchitra Vijayan, a lawyer and founder of The Polis Project, who says that hate is a big business, this kind of journalism could fall under the category of Genocide journalism, as it establishes a “… pattern of presenting and commenting on the news” that “transforms political debate into righteous passion against individuals and groups that disagree with the status quo.”
The modus operandi of this sort of journalism is as follows: “The targets of violence are marked with precision, taken as public hostages and accused of being enemies of the state. Later they explain what has to be done to this enemy. Through constant repetition, they construct a political, moral and historical alibi that eventually becomes the accepted truth. In this steady journey into the abyss of intolerance, journalists and news anchors become agents of the state and even annihilators of society. All the ingredients for conditioning a democratic alibi that existed in Nazi Germany and Rwanda exist in India today.”
Read the full text of the essay here.
By Chandra Ganguly
How do you make sense of life when your friend dies? How do you make sense of life when thousands were washed away by waters in a tsunami or killed ruthlessly in a genocide? How do you make sense of lives lived in pain whether due to atrocities committed by other or genetic mutations that make every day living a study in pain and forbearance? Peter Trachtenberg’s The Book of Calamities examines the meaning of life through these occurrences while asking five questions, “Why me? How do I endure? What is just? What does my suffering say about me and about God? What do I owe those who suffer?”
The book is a compelling first hand account of not just the author’s own suffering due to substance abuse, the death of his friends and his parents but also a first hand account of other people’s pain as he travels to places of strife such as Rwanda and Sri Lanka, follows up with families who lost loved ones on September 11, and interviews those in grief, seeking an answer to his questions.
The beauty of the book lies in the author’s ardent and almost unflinching seeking. He intersperses his travels and experiences with philosophies and religious texts from the Bible and Buddhism mainly but those chapters and paragraphs are like supporting documents, almost theoretical in their references. It is his travels and walks through the trenches of human suffering that pulls the reader in. How many people do we know who have travelled to Rwanda after the genocide or Sri Lanka after the tsunami? How many brave the hostility of these climates to ask questions? Trachtenberg recounts his experiences in such places and interviews people such as the Daley twins who suffered from Epidermolysis Bullosa, a form of affliction that made living in your own skin literally almost possible. The author befriends the people he seeks out in his journey to find a meaning and makes his research into suffering an empathetic and intimate look into lives we read about and normally keep at a distance. By describing his own sufferings, Trachtenberg draws us further into his story and his own search for meaning — “. . . suicide suddenly appealed to me as something I could do . . . I used about fifty Fiorinal and a razor blade that I was too squeamish to do very much with.” ( p. 57)