Front page headlines of a leading national English daily yesterday carried news that the tiger population had increased by five hundred tigers!
Not in the fourth or fifth page, but headlines on the front page at the same time as the more important news of twenty one of our country’s elected representatives going on a fact finding mission to see for themselves the atrocities, murders, rapes and dastardly happenings in the Indian state of Manipur was placed elsewhere in the newspaper!
That is how callous we have become: The increase of a tiger population takes precedence over massive human right violations and sickening atrocities on Indian women!
As I study the failings of the press during the Nazi regime, I find that even as major atrocities were committed by the state the press either remained silent or toed the official line. The press like the judiciary should have the courage to be strong pillars of democracy and not makeshift bamboo bridges, being swept away by a dangerous current below.
But doesn’t this also reflect the callousness of the reader?
Have we become apathetic to what is happening around? Have we become so selfishly lost in a world of cell phone messages, and WhatsApp savories that we have forgotten how to think and feel anything beyond? It most certainly must be if we continued reading the article beneath those headlines, instead of asking, “What about that fact- finding mission?”
What have they found out about Manipur? They are our MPs! Elected by our own people, who have decided to throw away official reports and find out for themselves what is happening in that far off state!
But the ‘tiger report’ was like a lollypop given to us to suck, so our minds would move away from the more important news!
“Grrrr!” growl 3682 tigers with delight, “We made headlines today! More people are losing their lives in that state, then all the humans we attacked and ate, yet we made front page!”
Jim Corbett whose tales of man-eaters filled my youth would have been delighted!
Or maybe, just maybe, he would have taken his ancient rifle and standing astride the park named after him have warned the nation, “When news of a tiger population increasing takes precedence over killings of your citizens, then you need to seriously look into your hearts!”
Yes, we certainly need to look into ourselves! A country, whose people have been known for their compassion and gentleness, that we taught the whole world how to get freedom through non-violence now needs to look deep into ourselves to check whether our senses have been numbed, our feelings anaesthetized, and our ability to react, paralyzed!
Did you read those headlines without reacting?
Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at www.bobsbanter.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org