On Thursday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made a remark in a tourism ministers’ conference that “One small incident of rape in Delhi advertised world over is enough to cost us billions of dollars in terms of global tourism,” assumed to be in reference to the assault of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in December 2012, better known as the ‘Nirbhaya incident’.
Even though the minister apologized today for his statement, and clarified that he did not intend to be insensitive, the public online is still enraged. This is after, the word “small” was edited out of Mr Jaitley’s speech transcript issued by the Press Information Bureau, which handles government publicity, as revealed by NDTV online. Looks like Social Media is the real media for the people now.
— Yuva Desh (@yuvadesh) August 22, 2014
Nonetheless, those who heard the minister’s speech shared this quote on the social media, and the controversy spread like wildfire. Hashtags #BigMinisterSmallRape and #RapeSmall4BJP are among the most trending topics on Twitter today, that too to the extent that both lead to the minister’s profile when clicked on.
— Gurinder S Ahluwalia (@Guri02) August 22, 2014
— Atul (@AAPtivistAtul) August 22, 2014
As clear from the tweets above, many are questioning why are the mainstream TV news channels not highlighting this incident. What might not be a hot story for the newsroom, seems to have influenced the general public strongly.
Although its not entirely true that mainstream news agencies are not covering it, while the TV channels might be silent, after looking at the outage that people have created, some news forums have joined in the online conversation too.
— Firstpost (@firstpostin) August 22, 2014
With the rising number of Internet users in India on a monthly basis, and further an increasing number of people on Facebook, Twitter etc. it is highly likely indeed that TV news channels will become expendable. Moreover, since on social media people decide what news they want to share and spread, it gives a stronger voice to the general public than mainstream news forums. Here are a few more tweets from enraged digital Indians.
— TIMES WOW (@timesn0w) August 22, 2014
— dilip cherian (@DILIPtheCHERIAN) August 22, 2014
Nonetheless, Arun Jaitley has still not responded to any of these tweets, and members from opposing parties are using this as a good opportunity to highlight the flaws of the ruling party. This might not be the first time Indians have come together to raise their voice on social media, and looking at the trends such platforms would be utilised in the future. Will TV newsrooms become obsolete now?
To contact the author, write to firstname.lastname@example.org