Journalists come up with strong stories, make a big noise, generate loud protests and then the story dies its natural death before yet another story takes birth to suffer an almost identical fate.
Anand Ranganathan has raised this powerful question in his write-up “P Sainath: The Anti-Mahatma”.
He reminds us that Mahatma Gandhi was a journalist first and then he did the unthinkable act of crossing the Lakshman Rekha for a journalist: “just observe and report, don’t take part. Don’t jump the line”. He says:
Dozens of journalists may have written prior to Dandi about the ludicrousness and injustice of a salt-tax through their columns and editorials, but what is etched ultimately in our collective memory is not their beautifully worded protest or a critique of the British tax policy (“Wah! Kya likhtain hain, janab!”).
What makes our hair stand on end, instead, is the image of a half-naked journalist walking briskly a thousand dusty miles just to raise a fistful of sand high up in the air for all to see and cheer.
That is jumping in; that is crossing over the line which separates journalism from activism, observer from doer, man from Mahatma.
So, that is the call for us!
Do we have the clarity and guts to realize that unless we transcend the line from observer to action, we are no better than corrupt politicians, criminals and all other varying kinds of scum.