We Need More Good News

Posted: April 10, 2015

We are tired of hearing words like rape, murdered, molested and victims. Our hearts need good news too to be hopeful and have faith in the goodness of humanity.

Have you ever realized that what you hear, see and perceive over a period of time, becomes either your perception of the world or your worst fears?

Just take a test of the five questions listed below:

  1. Will you, as a man, be accepting and unaffected at the same time, if your spouse were to earn more than you do?
  2. How comfortable will you be if one of your children (or say, only child) has a different take on sexuality?
  3. Are you willing to accept that god resides in the good we do and not merely within the sacred realms of temples, mosques and churches?
  4. If you see an unjust incident, like a person taking a bribe or a stranger getting beaten up by hooligans or say, a woman being harassed, are you brave enough to question the act? Or, do you succumb to your fears of being drawn into a seemingly unnecessary scenario, which you may want to avoid?
  5. Which are your favorite Bollywood movies?

Do not reply on an impulse. Do not reply under an influence. Reply from your heart.

Although the answers are almost predictable (thanks to the changing mindsets today), the answers will still vary. The answers will probably also enlighten you about the person you are; but – only if you are honest with yourselves while answering them. Maybe, you will be surprised at the way you think, despite your advocacy for women’s empowerment, gay rights and what not.

The way you have seen life until now, is the way you will continue to perceive the world around you. And that, is your perception of the world, no matter how hard you try to camouflage your actual opinions with cheesy lines on how women suffer and how women need to fight back. Face it!

The stereotypes within

Have you ever observed the kind of cinema you enjoy? For instance, in Bollywood – men are forever portrayed as never-ageing Greek gods! People don’t seem to have issues with a 50+ Khan romancing a 20+ woman, but eyebrows are raised if a 40+ woman has feelings for a man younger to her. Why? Because, our society thinks the way it perceives the characters in cinema. I have grown up watching Aamir Khan in movies like Dil, Jo jeeta wahi Sikandar and Qayamat se Qayamat tak. He was one of my crushes when I was studying. But of late, I found myself questioning, “Isn’t Aamir Khan too old to romance Katrina in Dhoom?”, or for that matter I think, “Isn’t Salman Khan too old to fall for the fresh Jacqueline Fernandez in Kick? (All that said, I still adore Aamir Khan). However, these very actors used to romance golden beauties like Juhi Chawla and Madhuri Dixit on screen, long, long ago. And, that is when I realized that our cinema has been instrumental in creating a somewhat-vague-image of a woman.

The general impression of a woman does not go beyond ‘chittiyan kalaiyan‘ or ‘jadu hai nasha hai’ (Leave aside movies like Mardani, Queen, Gulab Gang, NH10 types. They are just a handful.) This is precisely why our society is unable to perceive a woman any different than the usual – the desirable. She can be a strong, independent, fierce and dominant character, but only in dreams! Anyways, I am digressing, although the beginning of this post is well-connected with the context of this post – which is – what you perceive over a period of time, becomes you in totality. There has to be a good reason why courage has taken a beating and the fears of unknown and lack of goodwill have increased.

And so the question strikes, “Is there anything good we hear about these days?”

News around us today

For instance, let’s talk about the December 16th incident of 2012 that shook the world. Playing and replaying the unspeakable horrors of the ghastly incident for over two years (including Suzette Jordan’s story) has not done much good to the society, except disturbing the already disturbed. I have had sleepless nights that year and I still get cold shivers when I think about the brave heart Nirbhaya. May her soul rest in peace.

And then, the Park Street rape incident added to the woes of ‘modern’ women. Suzette Jordan was not the conventional woman who wore salwar kameez. She was a single mother to two teenage girls, and she was a supremely independent woman who lived life on her own terms even if she was unemployed for a long period. She had no qualms about her drinking and smoking and she cared two hoots about what this world thought about her. And, when she was raped, the world labeled her a slut because she was not the quintessential Indian woman as described by our society. Yet, she fought the world with all her might. I loved her. I respect that strong soul. (RIP Suzette). And I loved her to pieces when she said, I have a name. My name is Suzette Jordan”. She did not like to be referenced as the ‘Park Street rape victim’. And that is precisely what I am talking about – the label!

Yes, the label ‘victim’ that is slapped on a woman who falls prey to this torment of a lifetime – rape. The physical scars heal over the years, but the psychological scars inflicted, bleed for a lifetime. Imagine the amount of grit and will for a rape survivor to pick up the tattered pieces of her life, to begin all over again as a normal human, to brave threats and disturbing calls from unknown predators, to walk on the street without being pried upon and to forget the horrors she prays no lady must undergo. People, she is not a victim. She is a survivor.

Survivors, not victims

Survivors make good news. Let’s know more of them. Let me mention some of these beautiful survivors here.

  1. A classic example of a survivor becoming a ray of hope for the others who live their lives in fear is Sunitha Krishnan. She was gang-raped at the age of 15 by eight men. Today, a co-founder of Prajwala, an NGO that works towards the rehabilitation of sex workers and their children, she has come a long way indeed. This woman braved threats all her life and rose like a phoenix, proving that our unhealthy society needs to be treated. And that is what I call good news.
  2. Even as female infanticide continues, change has happened. Small it is, but it has started. A village in Rajasthan, Piplantri, celebrates the birth of a girl child by planting 111 trees. An effort that promulgates eco-friendliness along with the significance of a girl child in the world. Now that is good news!
  3. When Vidya Balan enacted the role of a sensuous pregnant woman searching for her husband in the movie, Kahaani, I loved the change. It was a breather to see a woman leading the movie. Though the movies that followed ensured that the masses returned back to reality where women are best when they sing and dance and support their heroes. (thanks to Farah Khan and Karan Johar for their undying loyalty towards SRK and bringing back the audience to their cliched blathering stories!) Hence, the seemingly insignificant change in the genre of Bollywood movies that was reflected in Kahaani, Queen, Highway, Mardaani, Gulaab Gang and others of the kind may not have stayed with people as much as male dominated movies would have. Yet, that is good news, because the change has begun! And, I love Vidya Balan. I adore her. Not because she is a Palakkad Iyer like me, but because she is one of the few actresses who is comfortable with who she is. Undeterred by the scrutinizing eyes of the media over how many pounds she gains and loses and whether she is pregnant or not, this actress has managed to rub the din off her skin, despite the hurt she must have felt being judged on the plumpness factor. Vidya Balan, take a bow!
  4. And then, there is this 29-year-old Linkan Subuddhi, a software professional who also worked with AID India (an NGO). She stalled a child marriage, and not without a fight in which she was injured critically. This lady is a hero. I call her good news!
  5. How can I forget Malala and the many unheard ones like her? The world adores this 17-year-old who was 14 when she was shot in the head three times. The rise of the brave has started in the wild unruly frontiers of our neighboring country. This girl now shines with the many honors she has been bestowed upon, one being the Nobel Peace Prize. And, she continues with the good work. She is yet another beautiful good news.

Let’s spread some good news

Many might wonder, what is new about the above? The world knows them. But then, also ask yourself, what do you tend to discuss more? People enjoy discussing the pain and the torment of a rape survivor (something that our social media does with such finesse!) more than discussing her verve to break free from the fear bubble to fight the world and, move on.

The intent of this post is not to discourage the realist in people. But then, be a realist with an urge to move on from the stagnancy of ‘what has happened is not good’ to ‘what can be done about this’. If there are ten bad things happening in the world, throw more light on the one good thing that is also happening simultaneously. There are many people who are trying hard to do good in the world by fighting illiteracy, Khaps and witchcraft, and educating the children in slums, thereby helping this society heal. Now, don’t they deserve more mention than how many rapes and murders are happening around the country?

A couple of years back, my brother-in-law, Sridhar (a journalist), had started a group on Facebook – Good news only. When the group started, I initially wondered, “What is the point in spreading good news only? Why keep the world in dark about the news that is not good? Understanding reality is more important than living in a bubble that the world is good.” Those were my initial thoughts.

But I was so wrong! Understanding reality is a faux pas today. We do not ‘understand’ reality. We empathize with it. We relish it. We discuss it. We gossip about it. We play and replay it. We devour it. We forget it. But we do not understand it.

‘Good news only’ may not solve problems instantly. It may not change things drastically. It may not even be convincing enough to be heard. But then, there is one thing which it gives – hope. Once people understand this, faith will follow suit. And then, the change will happen. Which is why, we need ‘good news only’. More of it.

This post was previously published at the author’s blog.

Image adapted via Shuttertsock

A software engineer in the past, a content writer, an amateur blogger, an avid reader

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Comments

4 Comments


  1. Great work Narayani! I appreciate the effort you have put in, in this long article, depicting stories of survivors and sufferers!!

    I have been feeling on same lines for last few days that maybe it’s time we need to start reporting the good news.. but to my surprise the proportion of good news is just too low as compared to the bad ones. Everyday newspaper is only overflowing with the cases of women/ children/ farmers/ aam-janta being vandalized. Alas!

    I also like the point that how happily we accept the on-screen chemistry between 50 + actors and ~25 actresses! But they make it what sells. We are living in a hypocritic society where we backbite about everything that we happily do secretly.

    However women of our society need to come forward, and be bold and expressive about it now. Because we are the ones who suffer the most in this hypocritic world. I still don’t find many girls sharing, commenting, liking posts that talk about such awareness.. I urge that every now and then, we need to be the bearer ourselves to spread this light! 🙂
    Good luck!

  2. Thanks a lot, Swati 🙂 The change has begun and it has to just catch the fire to burn bright enough, so that the world knows, there is more to a woman than what the world treats her as of today. Like you said, we need to bring out more success stories of women who have been through the lows of life and have yet emerged strong. They may be few, yet they will be impressionable. That is what matters in the end, after all. Thanks again for dropping by 🙂

  3. This post really made me think – thank you for writing. At first, I thought it was just another “I don’t want to see what’s wrong with the world” kind of posts but after reading, I understood that this is not the work of someone hiding her head in the sand, but someone who has thought it through. I agree, the stories of survivors can make us realize that life does not end with such tragedies and that women of courage exist everywhere. Thank you for focusing on the importance of the positive in our lives.

  4. Thanks Ritika 🙂 I hope the world gets better and at the same time, leave an even better generation behind 🙂

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