Dialogue July- September, 2005, Volume 7  No. 1

Obscenity in Media                                                         

Prakash Singh

This write-up intends to bring to public notice a very serious malady affecting our daily lives. The media, both electronic and print, is dishing out filthy, obscene material day in and day out. Through this, I wish to apprise you of the downright irresponsible conduct of the so-called national dailies of the country – The Times of India and The Hindustan Times in particular. Both these papers claim to be the leaders and there is a cut-throat competition between them to increase their circulation. Somehow, the TOI realized that the easiest way to increase circulation was by incorporating sexually titillating material in its columns. It started doing that and very soon its circulation went up in geometric progression. The HT was not to be left behind. It followed the same pattern and explicit photographs. The other papers have also started following their example.

When you buy ‘Debonair’, you know what you are bargaining for. But, when you subscribe the daily newspaper, you are not looking for pornography. But, the aforesaid national (or, shall we call them anti-national) dailies are throwing soft porn at us everyday. In several families, parents are greatly worried over the sinister effects of these magazine sections on their growing children. Some have even taken the extreme step of discontinuing these papers and opted for a less unacceptable paper.

It is a disturbing scenario. Lessons from Kamasutra are inflicted on us every morning. As a result, our cultural values are being systematically eroded. The young generation is imbibing an ethos, which is totally foreign and destructive of the Indian heritage. No wonder, there is an increase in crime against women. There are incidents of very young children experimenting with rape. Pictures of a boy and a girl having sex in the college laboratory are transmitted through MMS.

The Times of India has also been publishing vulgar jokes under the caption SMS JOKE OF THE DAY. Sample the following:

Q. Why do girls like gold more than boys?

A. Because gold has 24 carrot and boys have just one.

Q. A nude man stands in front of the mirror and says, “2 inches more and I’ll be a king”.

His wife sitting behind says, “2 inches less and you will be a queen.”

The aforesaid dailies have now stooped to publishing advertisements of prostitutes in their daily columns. Of course, the advertisements ostensibly are of massage parlors. But the Delhi Police have invariably found these parlors to be dens of prostitution.

I contacted the National Commission for Women and wanted them to launch a campaign against the media for publishing obscene photographs and literature. However, I found them diffident in challenging the press barons. I need hardly say that the media has become very powerful in the country and no institution or group likes to antagonize it.

Finding no other options, I lodged formal complaints with the Press Council of India against the Times of India and also the Hindustan Times. In my petition, I also made it clear that the kind of articles and photographs which are being published in these dailies amount to offences under Section 292 of IPC, the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 and the Young Persons (harmful Publications) Act, 1956.

The Press Council of India, in their judgment dated June 28, 2005, “deprecated” the Times of India for publishing the impugned articles and photographs and advised them to “take more care and restraint in publishing such articles/photographs in future”. Referring to the advertisements published in the Hindustan Times, the Council “expressed its deep unhappiness and concern over the failure of the press to self-regulate the discharge of its responsibility towards the society” and directed the paper to “ensure that the undertaking is not violated”.

Needless to say, the papers are not bothered about the advice tendered by the Press Council of India, which in any case is a toothless tiger, bereft as it is of any punitive powers. And so, the dirty game goes on. The coffers of the media must jingle. What happens to the society and its youth is of no consequence to them.

The High Court of Bombay, in their Order on writ petition no. 1232 of 2004, Pratiba Naithani versus Union of India and others laid down that the newspapers and periodicals are restrained from publishing any advertisement which amount to invitation to prostitution, which have sexual overtones, which violate Section 3 of Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 and other provisions of different Acts.

The purpose in writing this piece is to mobilize public opinion against these papers in particular and the media in general for its brazen publication of obscene photographs and articles. You could make your own contribution by

         ˛   Flooding these papers with your letters of objection/protest

         ˛   Organizing boycott of the magazine sections of these papers

         ˛   Burning a Holi of such literature

         ˛   Encouraging RWAS in your respective areas to stop the distribution of such papers in their respective areas

         ˛   Lodging, wherever possible, criminal cases against these and similar other papers

         ˛   Moving the Court, wherever feasible.

Please do not be a mute spectator to the happenings around you. You have to take cognizance of the activities of those destroying the very foundations of Indian society just for the sake of augmenting their revenues and claiming circulation larger than that of their rivals.


Dialogue (A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati)

              Astha Bharati