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10 Judgements That Changed India
Author: Zia Mody
Rs. 399/ 240 pages
Publishers: Penguin Books India
A lot of good can be expected out of the Tarun Tejpal sexual assault case which is being relentlessly covered by the media and which dominated the national headlines for almost two weeks now.
The case has exploded the way it has because of several reasons: the high profile personality of the main accused, the extraordinary courage shown by the young journalist at Tehelka who lodged the complaint against her editor and the outrage in the media itself over the hypocrisy at Tehelka.
Attempts by the former managing editor Shoma Chaudhury to address the complaint within the confines of the office itself backfired miserably. By and large, attempts at cover-up almost always result in an aggressive response from the media. Adding to the shock value was the high reputation of Tejpal and Tehelka as fearless crusaders against corruption and injustice till this image was shattered violently by the sexual assault charge.
All of this is good for Indian society. For one, we can expect greater sensitivity on issues of sexual harassment and sexual exploitation at the workplace. Irrespective of the outcome of the Tejpal case, it has already had a deep impact on Indian newsrooms.
Before pointing fingers at others, news organisations would now be expected to be in the forefront of establishing a Complaints Committee headed by a woman employee, with not less than half of its members being women. All complaints of sexual harassment by any woman employee would need to be directed to this committee as recommended by the Vishakha guidelines of the Supreme Court.
The Tejpal case is certain to have a deep impact on educational institutes across the board- in particular those dealing with journalism and mass communication where one finds that more young women are entering media schools than ever before.
Till the Goa ThinkFest episode came to light, Tehelka and its founder-editor were held in high esteem and discussed in glowing terms within and outside journalism schools. The story of how Tehelka was born as a reaction and revulsion to the Page3 and Paid News environment would be discussed along with the details of outstanding sting operations and investigative work by Tehelka.
Indian society at large and media education in particular now stands enriched by the Tejpal case study on the reality of sexual exploitation at the workplace. It brings to fore situations and circumstances that make women vulnerable to sexual exploitation; professionally acceptable and unacceptable behaviours from seniors and remedies available to the aggrieved
Young professionals would now stand cautioned by the Tejpal case study not to get carried away by the power and charm of their seniors and not to feel intimidated by bosses who have the power to make or mar careers.
Thanks to this case, we can now expect our workplaces to become better for women.
With best wishes,
Editor, Change for Better