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The Death of Indian Media: SSR, Drugs And The News Untold

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The Indian media acts as an architect, slowly and subconsciously building opinions in the minds of its viewers who indulge in their construction. They are all attempting to capture the most vital resource — the viewer’s attention — and make it hostage for money. Your attention and clicks are worth billions to them in advertising and revenue.

As the digital media industry matures, it’s becoming easier for publishers to reach the point of profitability soon after opening business. Media organisations are dramatising news to help maximise monetisation opportunities. The war for attention has gotten to such a point where news is being sensationalised with all sorts of insensitive and ‘clickbait worthy’ headlines.

Television Rating Point

Television Rating Point is a method to evaluate programmes based on views, which are usually calculated on a per-second basis. The higher the TRP, higher the profit. Advertisements are a major factor as well. According to the FICCI-EY report, news channels currently occupy 13% share (amounting to Rs 3,640 crore) in the overall advertising volume. These news channels earn in lakhs per day from increased viewership.

rhea chakraborty in front of media, journalists

Indian TV news channels were expected to rake up to thousands of crores during the 2019 elections. If politics can rake up thousands, then how much will a case that includes an aspiring Bollywood star, drug-fuelled celebrities and a killer girlfriend make?

A young, famous and ambitious megastar who died under mysterious circumstances — controversy and suspense created a storyline in Sushant Singh Rajput’s untimely death case. This was orchestrated by sensationalising the case; nothing gets more views than a female killer and narcotics. Since the starting of the case, we witnessed the vilification of Rhea Chakraborty as the girlfriend. The media took over the role of both the judge and jury by pronouncing her as guilty.

Rhea described the abuse she faced during the media trial — she received threats of death and assault. She said that she has been ‘unfairly targeted’. She has also been labelled as a ‘particular type of woman’ who is disliked by Sushant’s family. In India, family is of utmost importance. Therefore, Sushant’s his family dislikes Rhea, then the whole of the country must dislike her as well. Is there a gender aspect to this? What would have happened if a man were in her place?

Rhea was slut-shamed, accused of murdering Sushant, drugging him and stealing his money. Outspoken women on social media often face demonisation. Even Rhea’s family’s reputation has been tarnished; they have been labelled as drug peddlers and murderers. It reached a point where the family had contemplated suicide. Is it moral to push someone to such a point where they consider killing themselves?

News channels are supposed to show unbiased news instead of entrenched misogyny, conspiracy and an unsure narrative. The Press Council of India has sent an advisory to TV channels on the coverage of Sushant Singh Rajput’s case. It seeks to restrain the megalomaniacal coverage of the film star by the media. 

Lack Of Ethics In Journalism

What’s worse is that the actor’s legacy is now the investigation of his death. The lack of journalistic ethics or even human ethics that the media has portrayed is beyond belief — pictures of his dead body were circulating and many instances of intrusion of privacy occured while reporting on the case. The media used every opportunity to gain profit from its gullible viewers. Today, Rhea is the only name that big news houses are covering instead of the bigger issues.                                                              

The failure of the Modi government in handling the Covid -19 pandemic, the standoff with China in Ladakh, the economy and the migrant labour crisis are all issues that are screaming for coverage. The people of India need to be distracted from the woes of the Indian government and what’s more perfect than a case like this.

In case you are left in the dark by our honorary media, here is what has been happening in the country:

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  1. Nayantara Batra

    Media being the mass communication towards our society needs to be sharing relevant information towards the people of India to initiate change in mindset’s towards news that is more meaningful and critical to grow as a community ! Loved it ky

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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