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Fashion means Expose: Assamese News Channel

Sometime back, the debate on moral policing stormed the nation when Mumbai police raided hotels and caught couples from hotel rooms. Almost every news channel aired programs where in they discussed ‘right to liberty’ and ‘right to freedom’.

Just a few weeks after this incident, a news channel in Assam decided to air a piece on girls wearing shorts in Guwahati. The news story ‘Girls wearing Shorts in Guwahati’ by a local news channel of Assam, Pratidin Times came into highlight in the social media on Wednesday, obviously due to wrong reasons.

Embedded below is video of the news piece followed by the English translation of the entire story. Watch the video, look at how the camera is being used, where is it being focused and what the story implies. Focus on the use of language and the use of the word ‘culture’ to defend the lead of the story.

Once done, just ask a question, will you allow someone of record you on a tape, without your consent, and then telecast it in the Prime Time without your consent?
The incident brought into light by this Facebook page, Assamese Media’s Victims, rightly summarizes it:  

When you pass comments on girls in the street, it’s Eve Teasing.

And when you shoot them without their knowledge, zoom on their body parts and then comment on them, its Assam's journalism

When you pass comments on girls in the street, its Eve Teasing.And when you shoot them without their knowledge, zoom on...
Posted by Assamese Media's Victims on Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The News Piece: Translated 
Anchor: If you are hungry, you need food. To save yourself from sun, rain and storm you need a house and to cover yourself, you need clothes.
Today our ‘agenda’ for today’s news is ‘Clothes’. Some of you might find this news offensive, but those who understands will understand the importance of our news.

<Graphics> Monkeys from the jungle are also wearing clothes
<Graphics> Monkeys from the jungle has also learnt to wash clothes
<Graphics> But the importance of clothes have gone down in a civilized society

<Cheesy Indi-pop songs>
<Graphics> Monkeys from the jungle has also learnt to wash clothes<Graphics> But the importance of clothes have gone down in a civilized society
<Cheesy Indi-pop songs>00:52 (Upper Ticker) Even monkeys have learnt the importance of clothes
0:55 (Upper Ticker) Monkeys from jungle also now wears clothes.

00:58 Voice Over (VO): This is a visual from your lovely city, Guwahati
A lot of girls from these days prefer ‘shorts’
1:13: Now their preferred attire is ‘Half Pant’.
And consequently a fraction of city girls have wearing short clothes.

[Graphic and VO] 1:25: And maybe for this fraction of girls, ‘Fashion means Expose’.
[VO] 1:30: However they believe that it’s their right to wear whatever they want. Shorts are comfortable
1:40 [Interview 1: Girl]: It’s about the mindset of the people. We should wear something that makes us comfortable. But one can wear as per their fashion. And maybe that’s what they like.
1:50 [Interview 2: Girl]: If we go out on roads wearing shorts, for shopping, I don’t think so there is an issue with it.
[VO] 1:58: But why is that only 5 out of 100 girls need comfort? And because of this fashion and comfort, many people gaze into such shorts.

2:10 <Assamese song on short clothes>

2:10 <Assamese song on short clothes>
2:24: Girls in shorts or half pants, it is bad to say, but such kind of clothes sensitize the roads.

2:33: [Interview 3: Man]: The culture that Assam had is no longer there. And now they curse the male that you looked at her like indecently. Right now I saw a girl, the dress she is wearing, what do I say? The culture which we have, what we should wear, the way we should do hair, they way we should wear clothes; it’s no longer there.

[VO] 2:55: In the streets of Guwahati, there are ample of girls who are wearing shorts.
[Piece to Camera]: Spaceship has travelled to Mars from Earth. And at the same time, here in Assam we are debating about attires in Assam. How relevant it is?
[News clip: Assamese Singer] 3:07: The organizers have said that I can’t sing on stage if I don’t wear the traditional Assamese attire, Mekhla Chador.
3:15 [VO]: Yes, in the same city, where a singer cannot take the stage even after wearing decent clothes, there shouldn’t s any problem in making news out of attires that are being worn.
And these girls should also keep in mind that, culture isn’t preserved on stages, the stage of culture is society.
3:33: With Cameraperson Vipul Mazumdar, Heman Rajbonsi, Pratidin Time, Guwahati.

Instances of the Assamese broadcast media being unethical aren’t something new. The fraction of ‘active’ media consumers of this relatively naive industry has been talking and writing about it for a long time now. However the unfortunate bit here is that this fraction of ‘active Assamese media consumers’ is almost negligible. Very briefly, when we talk about ‘active’ and ‘passive’ audiences, it must here be mentioned that, media tends to have a larger impact on the second type of audience; i.e. passive media consumers take in whatever is shown by the media exactly the way it is telecasted, and it is assumed that they believe in it. (One can refer to the Direct Effect Paradigm for further reference).

Must we recollect the 2012 Guwahati molestation incident that alongside hooliganism in the city also raised the very problematic issue of ‘moral policing’ by our so called Assamese broadcast media industry. The point of this post not to list out such instances, the point here is to stress enough on the fact that this ‘moral policing’ or somewhat unethical piece of journalism still persists and so does numerous other questions. Which if you are sane enough, will be raised on media functions in this nation.  


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