Others and Ostracism: The Problem of News Disproportionality

Where is the price tag? How do you measure human problems as more or less significant? What makes my history baseless, and yours, the subject of scholarly research? Why can you not learn Hindi when visiting my country? Why can you not revel in the gifts of others’ cultures the same way others cherish your Christmas?

All right (not to sound as an intimidating critic)- there are so many ends through which I can hold this web, but let’s take the simpler road of a personal narrative that may serve two purposes: (1) the piece will strike the intellect, thus prompting compelling afterthoughts; and (2) will help me exercise my points to be clearly communicated, and not left dwindling in the slush of jargons. So, let’s talk!

The motivation to reflect upon this conundrum comes from what happened to me in December, 2019. I had gone back to India for holidays, and I was greeted at the airport with the news that riots were moving across the country. These riots were (1) instigated by the central government’s premeditated attempt to amend a 1955 Citizenship Act, and (2) subsequently escalated when the act was officially passed on December 11, 2019- three days after my arrival. There was communal violence everywhere, and mostly it was driven by a religious divide. 

The Citizenship Amendment Act (2019) was a governmental initiative to grant Indian citizenship to illegal immigrants of any religion, except Islam- from three neighbouring, Muslim-dominated countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh- who had left their home countries due to any religious persecution they had faced as consequence of their religious-minority status. As simple as it looks, the Act was parched by the government’s inability to effectively convey the many intricacies of the Act, that further led to the measure being misconstrued as a vile attempt to purge India of Muslims.

Consequently, people were being lynched based on their religion; universities and students were attacked; police stations were set ablaze; curfews plagued the sub-continent; travel was restricted; and there seemed no possible way available to curtail this madness. The anti-CAA protests were being printed as headlines, but, unfortunately, was under-represented by Western media. Sadly, not many people knew about what was happening at “the other side of the globe”. This was distressing to acknowledge and compelled me to reflect over the questions about Eurocentrism and Postcolonialism that I had encountered during my Master’s.

The lack of active reporting of events happening in countries of the Third World by Western media is discomforting- for instance, how many times did you see news about the anti-SARS protests in Nigeria making headlines? It brings into its embrace a gamut of questions, and, mostly, their answers are engraved in human history. If we turn to a scholar of Postcolonial Studies, they might enlighten us about the manner in which the colonized culture(s) were trivialized and deemed to be of zero value, all in an attempt to lionize the colonizer and its historic paraphernalia. This catapulted the erosion of local culture(s) not only for the colonizer, but also for the colonized who began measuring their cultures’ worth through the lens of the white master. But where the colonized overcame, and understood the Manichean manipulations responsible behind their persecution, and answered back by acknowledging their roots, the colonizer kept themselves busy couched in imperial dreams.

The colonizer’s dreams led to the often perceived centrality of white supremacy that usually misrepresents or underrepresents news about countries of the Third World. Instances of zero-representation are rare, in comparison to the other cases, and are usually restricted to cases where a European is the victim. These could be taken as symptoms of a fragile understanding of other distant cultures, which are- in return- considered of less importance by the vortex of Eurocentrism. 

The problem of news disproportionality is that it hinders cultural knowledge and precludes a genuine recognition of others’ problems based on politics, religion, sexuality, or any other case. If viewed from the lens of environmentalism and philosophy, this disproportionality problematizes humanity’s existence as one entity. So, is it fake? Is the Socratic philosophy of a ‘citizen of the world’ (not to be misinterpreted from the point of view of politics and military) a meaningless phrase? What is the ending purpose of humanity? Are we willing to remain divided by ethnic, sexual, or religious differences?

I leave the answer to you; I leave it all to you.



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