Double standards in Indian media

The Vadodra paintings incident at MS University in Gujarat glaringly brings into focus the double standards that our intellectuals and the media use in dealing with issues relating with Hindus versus issues relating to Muslims. To illustrate the point, its first worth noting that our no-holds barred media organisations only discussed the issue in abstract terms and did not reveal the content of the contentious paintings — they, in fact, deliberately censored the concrete details of the paintings. One wonders that if they were so sure of their stand, then why were they afraid to show the details. Their reasons become clear on closer examination.

Arun Jaitley in the Indian Express described the two contentious paintings in the following words, ” My curiosity led me to discover that the first painting was that of a ‘cross’ on which Jesus Christ stood crucified. Below the said ‘cross’ was an English-style WC. The painting displayed the sexual organs on the art piece, with the liquid drip from them going into the WC. The second painting was a portrait, ostensibly of the Hindu goddess ‘Durga’, in the nude with a full grown human male emerg ing out of her sexual organs. The young artist had obviously used the artistic freedom to paint religious figures in a sexually explicit manner.”

The young artist had also been clever enough to only paint Jesus Christ and the Hindu Goddess Durga in such a manner, and not depict Prophet Mohammed in a similar sexually explicit manner. Had he done that, then we all know very well what our champions of artistic freedom and the media organisations would be saying and doing: They would have scooted off from issue as fast as their heels could carry them, or would have reversed their stand, just as they did during the Danish cartoon controversy. During that controversy, most of the writers blamed the Danish cartoonist for needlessly insulting the Prophet of Islam and provoking the wrath of muslim people, and sympathised with the hurt feelings of the muslim people. There were just a few who mentioned freedom of expression but failed to take a principled stand, and were again apologetic to the sensititivies of the muslims. But in the present Vadodra case, no sympathies for the hurt sentiments of the Hindus or for the Christians.

What’s more noteworthy is that a very similar incident took place in Bhopal just days after the Vadodra incident, where muslims ransacked and damaged an exhibition/display which they claimed portrayed muslims in a bad light. Besides a brief mention of it on one of the news channels, our media behaved as though the incident never happened, and our champions of artistic freedoms remained deaf and dumb to that incident. There were no discussions, criticisms, talk shows, demonstrations on that. But that was to be expected from our biased intellectuals.

Arun Jaitley in Indian Express (19/5/2007):

Anxious to study and analyse the real issues in this controversy, I made a conscious effort to investigate as to what the two impugned paintings were.

My curiosity was further strengthened by the fact that media organisations that championed freedom of artistic expression, projected the issue in the abstract, without informing viewers and readers what the exact expression of artistic freedom in this case was.

My conscious effort led me to discover that the protest was with regard to two paintings whose contents were being censored by the responsible section of the media. I am unsure whether this was deliberate or whether it was an act of responsible journalism to prevent people from viewing an obnoxious piece of art.”Anxious to study and analyse the real issues in this controversy, I made a conscious effort to investigate as to what the two impugned paintings were.

My curiosity was further strengthened by the fact that media organisations that championed freedom of artistic expression, projected the issue in the abstract, without informing viewers and readers what the exact expression of artistic freedom in this case was.

My conscious effort led me to discover that the protest was with regard to two paintings whose contents were being censored by the responsible section of the media. I am unsure whether this was deliberate or whether it was an act of responsible journalism to prevent people from viewing an obnoxious piece of art.

My curiosity led me to discover that the first painting was that of a ‘cross’ on which Jesus Christ stood crucified. Below the said ‘cross’ was an English-style WC. The painting displayed the sexual organs on the art piece, with the liquid drip from them going into the WC. The second painting was a portrait, ostensibly of the Hindu goddess ‘Durga’, in the nude with a full grown human male emerg ing out of her sexual organs. The young artist had obviously used the artistic freedom to paint religious figures in a sexually explicit manner.”

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