BY S.Anand| IN Media Practice | 12/04/2002
A journalist who headed the business desk of a daily proudly said that all his personal flights were sponsored by a private ai

A journalist who headed the business desk of a daily proudly said that all his personal flights were sponsored by a private airliner. He saw nothing wrong in this ‘arrangement’. He gladly accepted small gifts. He saw it as just a case of two interested parties mutually obliging each other.

Another thing about the post-Scindia news coverage struck me: when Phoolan Devi died neither politicians nor journalists felt so bereaved. The usual sensational aspects about her pre-parliament life were dug up, but none of them felt the kind of pain they felt for Scindia. An ex-Maharaja can of course curry more favours to journos than an ex-dacoit can. Some journalists like Vir Sanghvi even drooled over Scindia’s "good looks" and "sophistication" on TV. Only Maharajas have these classy-castey attributes you see, not the janata who have fought their way up from the Chambal ravines.Some editors mourned the loss of a "personal friend" in Scindia. But why did we not see such outpourings for Phoolan? Why did she not become a personal friend to editors? Moreover, Phoolan was murdered near parliament while Scindia’s death was an accident. Why were liberal journalists appalled that somebody could think of nominating Phoolan for the Nobel Peace Prize? Why do the prime minister and other mighties attend the Scindia funeral and not Phoolan’s? Why do we suck up to feudalism and icons of casteist power and not respect a woman who stood up and fought it in so many ways?

Phoolan was either hated – or romanticised by the likes of Shekhar Kapur – for fighting the violence inherent in our casteist and patriarchal system with violence. She was reviled, not taken seriously, when she sought the parliamentary route. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

The uncritical response of the media to Scindia – whose political contribution was as much, if not less, as G.K. Moopanar’s who died a month ago – and that the media and political class

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