Two centimeters doesn’t sound much, right? Yet a gigantic river whose level rises just by this height can make the lives of 27.64 lakh people in 26 of the 33 districts of Assam, a living nightmare. And it doesn’t end there, the likely heavy rainfall from July 19-21 over north and northeast India is expected to bring more woes to the state.
Suffering in numbers makes a consensus less impactful, and makes us less sensitive to the matter. Seventy-nine human souls dead, their families miserable, their cattle and livelihood tampered with, countless others in refugee camps. On top of that, there’s a global pandemic that isn’t making things less challenging.
Yet we are attracted to the story of the positively tested Bachchan’s and how they are battling the virus in the five-star hospitals. The suffering of those who are experiencing the wrath of Assam floods is equivalent to that of any other COVID-19 patient in our country. They are as scared as any other human in this life endangering situation, and neither am I critiquing or demeaning their accessibility to one of best healthcare facilities in the country. After all, they worked hard, and built their career in an industry that pays well. Why wouldn’t they make the best use of their hard-earned money to save their own lives and take care of their own health.
The problem lies in the excessive light shed by the media over the problems of the elite instead of the woos of the masses. Media plays the battle for our attention. It feeds us what the viewers want to see and the viewers feed it the attention that pays their bills. Nothing wrong with this system. Only when due and enough attention isn’t given to the “less rated” stories, that’s when it is a shame to mankind in general. The stories that are portrayed as just any other happening. As if the world is okay without knowing their existence. But isn’t suffering the same for both? Then why glorify one over the other?
I think it begins with us. The readers and consumers of media. We unconsciously and unanimously decided what is fed to us. We have the power to steer the media companies on which cart of stories to fuel. It’s actually a closed loop, a cycle. And we, collectively, have the power to break this loop and set it on a different trajectory – a more responsible and considerate one. One where the stories that deserve to surface, are empowered by the readers to naturally get the due attention and recognition they should.