Thoughts Sans Boundaries

Space program or Sewers?

Posted in musings by Aditya Moorthy on February 9, 2009

I just read an article on BBC. I have read many such as these where I hear an emotional voice of a reporter voicing out for the voice-less people of the society. It is an amazing feat to speak for others who find it impossible to speak themselves. Kudos to their effort. But I don’t understand why such articles are being written. Of course, I am not trying to be naive, I can think of few reasons:

a. The reporter is venting his / her frustrations when the press (or website) allows the content to be published simply because it comes from a qualified reporter
b. The press thinks that this article would generate enough clicks or readership that will warrant some revenue for the company
c. The reporter and the press are trying to create awareness among the larger public on the plight of many under privileged citizens who are suffering
d. The reporter and the press are hoping that this would elicit some responsible citizen to take up the cause with the authorities and do something about changing their lives
e. The reporter is giving voice to the voiceless and hopes that this would give them strength to take up their cause themselves and seek justice
f. The reporter wishes to shame the authorities / people responsible for making others suffer
g. A combination of the above and so on

What I fail to grasp here are few things:

a. The comparison called by the reporter on the government spending on space program vs. sewage improvements
b. The reporter feeling guilty about the plight of another human being
c. Indirect criticism of the authorities and calling all economically developed people to feel guilty through his / her article

Now, since I don’t understand the true intentions of the reporter my comments can be way off what the truth could be. But I persevere since I would like my thoughts on paper (or blog) as you interpret. I think the reporter is venturing into areas where he / she has very little knowledge, expertise or information about. A reporter’s job is to state facts and not write articles laden with facts and suggestive ideas as the reporter see’s fit. By comparing the investments on space program and calling attention that sewage infrastructure could use some of those funds the reporter has demonstrated poor knowledge about the functioning of governments and tried to spread misinformation and perceptions that the Indian government has misplaced priorities.

Secondly, why is the reporter feeling guilty? Because the reporter is contributing to the sewage fluids that another human being is cleaning or because the reporter has not done enough to uplift that person from that state to a better one or because the reporter has not challenged authority to change status quo or is it because the reporter has written a poor article on a so called prestigious news agency’s website. It leaves me wondering where the reporter’s priorities are when he / she states – “How can our so-called civil society be so indifferent to the millions like him? I, for one, am left feeling guilty.”

Thirdly, there is no direct accusation or information about any municipal office responsible for such affairs. There is no link between the so called middle-class and upper middle-class as to why they should feel responsible for the sewage cleaner’s state of affairs. I am not a heartless man to ignore another man’s suffering. But I am not that naive to put the blame on someone who is working hard to make a living with a middle-class, upper middle-class or rich status. There is clear accusation on the government not doing anything about the lives of such people but instead spending the money on space programs. India is a country where the majority are poor, majority among the poor are below poverty line, lack education, opportunities, suffer caste discrimination and work in the most squalid conditions a person can imagine, work more hours than most people with a decent life and yet earn less than they can afford to eat a decent meal. Now they are the ones electing the government. They are the ones who believe that the leader they elect will change their lives for ever or at least attempt to. The so called economically comfortable people who wash off their responsibilities by expressing their altruistic thoughts in such articles on BBC are the ones corrupting the same government elected by the majority of the poor people. Given that there is such a symbiotic relationship between these factions, and the ‘poor people’ not willing to take things in their own hands by seeking knowledge, we are not going to eradicate such living conditions.

What people need is facts stated on a certain situation. These facts might call for the necessary authority to take action with enough information provided by the reporter and hopefully bring about at least attempt at bringing in change. It should be left to the reader as to what is justified and what not. There is no point in stating that the country should be stop spending in space programs and spend on sewer. A society needs to go on and which means a lot of activities must go on. Sometimes, changes are slow in happening and people suffer in the process. Nothing can be done about it. Instead of pitying them and having a false sense of guilt, the responsible journalism should ensure that the facts and facts alone reach the audience. If opinion is required, the readers would naturally seek the opinion section of the site and not intermingle it with factual journalism or News.

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