Thursday, January 31, 2008

Biased Report on Mail Today

The following is a mail I sent to the author of this article as I am really pained to see Northeastern girls being portrayed in such a way. You can see my feelings from the contents of the mail:

Dear Kumar Vikram,

I am writing to you in relation to your biased report against the Northeastern girls in your article on Mail Today dated 28th January, 2008.

While appreciating the fact that you have highlighted the illegal drug trade going on in the capital, it is unbecoming of your profession to generalize and portray people belonging to a particular region or community in such a bad light. While it may certainly be true that some Northeastern girls may have fallen prey to these druglords and easy money, it is ridiculous to portray the whole community in such despicable terms. There is no doubt that some northeastern girls are involved in this trade, but portraying the whole community in such a bad light is difficult to understand. You know there is a black sheep in every community. The Northeasterners in general and Northeastern girls in particular have always been looked upon in contempt and in a bad light, and people always have a biased attitude and pre-conceived notion against them.
You see, supposing I go to the infamous GB Road in Delhi and there I found many North Indian girls indulging in flesh trade and the next day I write an article in a national paper portraying the North Indian girls in the same light as you portray Northeastern girls in your article , what would be your reaction? What would be the reaction of the people of Delhi?. Now you can imagine how much you have hurt our sentiments. I have always believed that the media should be the champion of the cause of the minorities, the downtrodden and the neglected. But your article have cast some doubts on the role the media is playing for/against the Northeasterners, and I am not alone. I am highlighting to you the sentiments of my fellow Northeasterners when they read your article. Mr Kumar, it hurts!

Hoihnu Hauzel, a reputed journalist from Manipur and a person whom i truly admire for her writings (though I haven't had the opportunity to meet her in person) replies:
Letter to Mail Today
Dear Kumar Vikram,

I have always believed that media, to a great extent, is responsible for the way Northeast women are wrongly projected in a place like Delhi. And your yesterday's article "Druglords prey on N-E girls to act as peddles," once again proved just that.

While I have no doubt in your facts and intentions, I am quite upset at the tone of the article. It is upsetting and hurtful beyond words the way you have carelessly yet confidently projected the tribe in your story.

It's even more difficult to imagine that you could begin with words like: "The next time a cocaine addict in Delhi order for a fix, it's unlikely than tan African man will be standing at the door. Instead, it'll probably be a young, trendy Northeast Indian girl. And for a few extra thousands, she'll put sex on offer as well."

And it ends in the same tone: "And the person ringing the bell in all probability will be a no eastern girl."

Are you sure that all of them are from the region? And how many of them are into the trade? I am not writing to you to defend or justify anything. I am writing to you because you have hurt our sentiments. But, for the crime of one, you cannot generalize the entire community. And that's exactly what your article has done. Does Maninder Pal Singh Kohli's (prime suspect in the rape and murder of British teenager Hannah Foster) crime make every Indian a criminal?

As a fellow journalist and someone who comes from one of the states of Northeast India, I am deeply hurt at the way you have chosen to deal with an issue like this. It is derogatory and insensitive to many women like me from the region who have left their homes to build a career. While it may not be your intention to generalize the community, I feel you have been extremely careless and tactless in your choice of words.

Also, it would have really authenticated your story if you have the name or identity of those accused instead of merely basing your story on one unnamed police officer. A.S Cheema merely commented that it is a new trend.

And why do you thrive on the miseries of the region which is typically what the Indian press in doing. Why don't you write the positive stories? Look around; there are many positive stories on the region that can be done from the city.

It is a pity that mainland India has so little or no knowledge of the Northeast India. I have spent half my life here in Delhi and even after living here for more than 15 years I am still fighting a biased attitude from people. People like you who should be actually educating the mass, make it worse for us.

And anyone with "small eyes" or the term people so loved to use "chinky" are not necessarily from the Northeast. You must understand that India has Mongoloid race even from other states like Ladakh and Sikkim (which is the eight states of the region). The city also has a good population of Tibetans and Nepalis.

I will appreciate your response. And this is not to discourage you but to let you know that we, as a community of journalist, ought to be more sensitive when dealing with such issues.

Warm regards,
Hoihnu Hauzel


illusionaire said...

Kudos to Miss Hoyhnu. She rocks. She's my sister's best fren and we met up just recently at CP.

You'll find people like Kumar Vikram everywhere, ready to stereotype anyone they see as long as they don't belong to their mainstream "race". You can't just get rid of such people, its a big waste of time. I appreciate Hoyhnu and her likes for taking time off from their busy schedule just to clarify things a bit.

Madhu Chandra said...

Hi Everyone,

Do not write to Kumar Vikram on this serious issue.

NE Support Centre & Helpline is submitting a formal complaint to Press Council of India and National Commission for Women.

We are in the need of the hard copy of the megazine. Kindly help us to get 20 copies of it and let us know.

Madhu Chandra
Spokes persons

illusionaire said...

Hello iconoclast :-P

I have included your post as a link to my blog post, hope you don't mind bro.

Sex, drugs and North-east girls

Warm regards,

- Sandman

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Kumar Vikram,

Your article “Druglords prey on N-E girls to act as peddlers” in Mail Today on 28th of January 2008 is headlined in such a way that it indicates a story about girls from the Northeastern part of India who have fallen into victimization by the leaders of Delhi’s illicit drug trade. However, reading further into your article reveals it is merely sensationalizing an image of women from Northeastern India as a bunch of young lascivious girls who will readily deliver drugs and promiscuously offer sex to any elite client of Delhi’s notorious leaders of the drug trade who happen to be from Nigeria. This transition from your headline to an actual slanderously generalizing story is quite appalling and very irresponsible journalism.

Now I know you’ve received numerous emails at this point but I really think you should hear from my point of view as a woman who on a regular basis has to face both discrimination and fear for my own safety from a number of Delhi’s many sexually predatory men who cannot control themselves.

You had stated in your article that some Northeast girls attended a hearing for one Nigerian drug dealer. Let me inform you that any person who is attending the hearing is only there to listen in, they have not been charged or arrested and there has been no admission of guilt by those who have attended the hearing. The relation between the girls in your article and the involvement of sex is purely speculation that you have made without complete facts.

It seems that your article does not address the real issue and that is the fact that Delhi’s elite has a problem with drug abuse. Judging from your article, it seems like you are deliberately trying to give a bad name to all girls that are coming from the Northeastern part of India. It is one thing to say African drug peddlers, but when people from the “Northeast” are also a part of India, there is no excuse to simply say North East girls. Please tell me, will you be writing an article about South Indian prostitutes, Punjabi drug peddlers, or Gujarati murderers in the future? It is high time Indians from other parts of the country stop categorizing those who are from the Northeastern region in such a negative image. You can write the names of the girls who are involved in this illicit drug trade that insinuatingly involves paid sex if you really want to be completely accurate with your story.

Please take more care in understanding the consequences with your journalism. I have been living and working in Delhi for the past 8 years and I believe citizens from the Northeastern states deserve better. We too are Indian citizens, working hard to make a positive career for ourselves and a difference in this country and it is disheartening to see a story released that continues to make all of us look like a bunch of prostitutes only.

Journalism coverage can have a great influence over the minds of many readers. Such a ridiculously and poorly written story causes unnecessary hardships for any female from the Northeastern part of India. We only want fair and equal treatment, the same as any else.

Esther Famhoite
New Delhi

Nandita said...

Just wanted to let you know that I've linked your post to one on my blog. I hope that that's ok with you.

Robin said...

It is known to everybody that there are always bad people in every community. Even a child knows it. But it is not correct/right to conclude a particular region or people based on a few black sheeps. It is totally a racial comment against a region & its people. The reporter, Vikram deserves an apology for his pre-mature writing. It seems that he wants to attract attention..! I guess from his writing that he is not a mature enough reporter, may be a beginner. It also shows that he is a black sheep among the journalists. Fortunately, we are wise enough to understand & detect the black sheep like him among journalists.

Vikram Kumar, Do you really know about your own people & community realities, forget about other communities.My sincere advice to the reporter is that open your eyes wide enough & think deeply before your write anything and make it public. Remember it is question of your career. You are writing & publishing such racial article in public domain. Plz do not make mistake yourself and do not assassinate your own career yourself.

Anybody from NE can sue you till your last penny.