know your neighbour

Shoma, Sita and Shikhandi …and also a Tehelka story

Posted by chimeki on December 8, 2013

Photo courtesy: Indian Express

Photo courtesy: Indian Express

Bhishma couldn’t be defeated. He had a boon of living as long as he wished. He was a great warrior too. He had humbled the mighty Parasurama, the warrior Brahman. Later, he nearly made Krishna break his vow not to hold weapon in the 18-day long war.  So, to disarm him the Pandavas brought Shikhandi, half female warrior in the battle field of Kurukshetra. Shikhandi in fact was the reincarnation of Princess Amba who in her early birth was abused by Bhishma! Seeing Shikhandi on Arjuna’s chariot Bhishma felt his sin and dropped his bow. Arjuna pierced his body riding on Shikhandi’s back! The Pandavas won the battle.

Men in India, like in every civilization, have often used women to achieve their purposes. Duryodhan found reason for a war in Drawpadi’s snub in the palace of illusion. Ram decimated Lanka on the pretext of getting back Sita. Similarly, Shoma Chaudhary of Tehelka was cut into pieces by the people who wanted to avenge Tarun Tejpal and Tehelka.

In Tehelka’s story, the survivor girl is Shikhandi, who was used to ‘kill’ Tehelka. So, in the end Shoma and the survivor girl became the real victims of power politics.

The girl needed justice, and rightly so, but what she got was Tarun’s ‘head’. The people who she fought in her Tehelka’s days actually are the winners in this battle which was/is fought between the girl and the system which tried to take advantage of her social weakness.

Like peasants, women in India don’t have a second chance. For peasants one bad season is enough to take away their accumulation of years. So is with women, a mistake can minus their achievements of years. Shoma Chaudhary and Barkha Dutt are best examples of this formulation. Both the women, like Sita, had to undergo a trial by fire for the sins of others.

In the Radia Tape case Barkha Dutt was scrutinized more severely than the co-accused males. An editor of a magazine lectured live and in print ethics of journalism to her. Barkha is still working, which is very good, but is she now what she once was – fierce, articulated and crusader. She has toned down.

In a civilized society weaker sections are given more chances than the stronger ones. However, in India it is just the opposite. Here the males or powerful can make a thousand comeback while a woman is accepted to be faultless. Hence, it shouldn’t surprise us if Shoma finds it very difficult to make a comeback.

A Tehelka Story

By the way, I have a story to tell. In the year 2011, when I was working with a monthly magazine, a young Tehelka journalist came to meet my editor. He was doing one of his first stories for Tehelka. The discussion continued for more than the anticipated time. The editor offered him a ride back to his place but he didn’t agree. He believed it unethical to take favor from the person or institution he was doing story on. It was impressive.

Whatever Tarun did should not become a reason to kill the Tehelka culture. The journalists, like the one I met, shouldn’t let Tarun’s act change their philosophy of journalism. Tehelka couldn’t teach Tarun but has taught many the meaning of true journalism and this shouldn’t discontinue.



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