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Indian Media’s Reportage On Nobel Prize Reeks Of Hidden Patriarchy

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The moment we all got the news of an Indian-origin economist winning the Nobel Prize, it looked like an amazing feat. In the midst of slowdown, joblessness, politics and all the insanity, the news came up as something that drove us all mad, giving us a reason to be happy about. In this piece, I am going to touch upon a very sensitive topic that many of us would rather not talk about or wink away. One may call it as an observation, a keen one, which is finding a place in my diary these days. The observation is about how the respective media houses showed this news in ‘Bold’, making it reek of patriarchy. How come so?

Esther Duflo, the second woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in Economics. Image:

Before I further table my observation, I wish to declare it openly that I am a person who believes in equal rights for one and all. You may label me as a feminist, but wherever ‘-ism’ enters, extremity also follows. Hence, I am rather suitably labelled as an equal rights activist. Coming back to where I was, our media houses, including print and digital mediums, have been in the habit of always putting men first, why can’t it be women or other genders for that matter? This goes beyond my understanding. Abhijit Banerjee, wife Duflo and Kremer win Nobel Prize for development economics. Why can’t it be “Esther Duflo and Abhijeet Banerjee win Nobel?” I mean, does it have to be his way always? When the world is seeing more and more women astronauts, physicists, engineers, when women are driving the space missions, why can’t it be a header starting with women?

My question may put the reader in an uncomfortably thought-provoking situation, but this is something we need to talk about. Why can’t we still accept the equality of women? I do understand and appreciate the equal rights of both men and women. You may also wonder if it has to be this way, then how does it even matter if we put Banerjee before his wife in the header? True, but has it been out of normalcy or patriarchy? That’s where my question lies.

The covert patriarchal systems which have become conventional ways of doing the things are not so often identified easily. It is so deeply ingrained in our minds that even if one tries to question them, they better be ready to be counter-questioned. There is nothing wrong about getting counter-questioned also, as we reach the solution only after healthy debates and discussions. But this discussion is a long one, and I deeply feel for it.

Where on the one hand, Indian media displayed the deep-rooted patriarchal colors in its reporting, the western media was quite neutral, sensitive and sincere in its reporting, on the other side. Many of them even put Esther before Banerjee. This is one of the bigger such observations when it comes to our valuable disseminator of information, media. In September, when the ambitious space project Chandrayaan-2 took off, our Indian media didn’t quite talk or showed much about the team behind the success. The team included women too, but there were hardly any profiles of Rithu Karidhal and M.Vanitha. If it has to be a good report of success stories, why can’t we see some smiling faces of women who work equally hard to reach where they deserve to be? Is it that normal, or are we living in a state of denial?

We certainly have a big reason to celebrate and be happy, but we also ought to heed what Banerjee said about the state of the Indian economy. It does make sense like his winning the prize does!

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  1. raj panchal

    Since it’s Indian media, we expect the Indian among the three Nobel prize winners to be mentioned first. If Kalpana chawla and her non-indian husband had gone to space, we’d see news articles from Indian media saying “Kalpana chawla and her husband xyz” went into space. The focus is on creating a connect with the readers and giving them more and more incentive to consume the content that they create rather than acting patriarchal or furthering a feminist cause.

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