Hysterical activists or illogical reporters?
One reads all kinds of things in newspapers. Some things make you feel good and some things make you feel sick. Well, today I read something that made me feel sick. It was an article that appeared in a mainline newspaper and it was titled ‘The Hysteria of Activism.’
What it said was that social activists are over dramatic and ‘alarmist’. The example of Chuhiya, the eight year old little poster girl of UNICEF was given. In real life, this article said, Choonam Kumari, who works in her father’s dhaba (tea-shop) had ‘neatly combed hair’ and ‘an expression of solemn dignity’ while in the poster she is portrayed as someone ‘scruffy’ and as a ‘rough and tumble urchin.’ This the writer felt was all wrong as UNICEF had done something that ‘comes in conflict with the facts’.
What facts? Is this little girl who is out of school, is being denied an education and slaves the whole day in her father’s dhaba not dirt poor? Does she not fall under the category of ‘child labour’? Does her ‘dignifed’ look and ‘combed hair’ make her any less needy?
I failed to understand the point the writer was making. But wait, she has an explanation, though it sounded illogical to me.
Today, this writer feels, ’causes are no more than products, which if marketed well, will get funds.’!! Ah, so that was the point. Trying to get funds for good causes by marketing the cause was not quite right in her eyes.
Shockingly, this same writer calls AIDS activism a ‘huge celebrity enterprise,’ because ‘organisations try to portray celebrities as caring individuals who need to be taken seriously.’ This writer feels this is absolutely wrong because in their hearts these celebrities don’t believe in what they are doing. She gives an example of a famous actress activist who was shooting for an AIDS campaign and refused to actually hold an HIV infected child.
Frankly, I do not think it matters what the celebrities actually think. If they have come forward to associate with a cause, I am not here to sit judgement on them. And I also do not care if the social welfare agencies are busy marketing themselves so that they garner more funds. In fact I say hurrah to them.
As for this write-up, it’s surprising how a reputed newspaper allows such illogical views to be published. They could have at least published this article under a heading such as ‘Counter View’ or something like that. Instead this write-up appeared in an important section of the newspaper.
5th December: Today CP Surendran wrote a very sensible article in the TOI. He asked what the government was doing about the other little children who are working, not schooling. What a relief to hear a sane voice. No mention of how ‘bad’ the social activists were and about how well Chuhiya’s hair was combed!