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Hafta 281: India-China conflict, Sushant Singh Rajput, reporting on suicide, and more

In this episode of NL Hafta, Newslaundry’s Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Mehraj D Lone, Raman Kirpal, and Anand Vardhan are joined by two guests: Mohan Guruswamy, author and chairman-founder of the Centre for Policy Alternatives & The Guruswamy Center, and Tanmoy Goswami, the Correspondent’s sanity correspondent who writes on mental health. Among other things, the panel talks about the India-China border flare-up, and Sushant Singh Rajput’s death and how the media covered it.


Mohan explains the location of the Line of Actual Control and how the India-China skirmish came about. “There are two LACs, the Chinese LAC and the Indian LAC; they overlap,” he says. Abhinandan asks him what triggered the Chinese action. Mohan speculates that alarm bells in China could have been raised by Amit Shah’s statement on recovering Aksai Chin, and India’s push for a WHO investigation into Covid-19. 


Mohan adds that the Chinese are “hyper-aggressive on all sectors of their borders”. Anand weighs in by pointing out the recent pattern of China’s militarism and aggression. The panel also discusses the difficulties in reporting on issues like this one, given the ambiguity surrounding the whole episode. 


Moving on to the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, Abhinandan asks Tanmoy about the media coverage, and the broader norms of reporting on people who die by suicide. Tanmoy says the attitude of many senior media professionals towards suicide is informed by the fact that suicide was criminalised in India for a long time. “Suicide was reported by crime reporters, and so there’s a legacy of those days,” he says. 


Now, Tanmoy says, editors have started responding positively to contentions against sensationalist headlines or triggering illustrations. “The number of vigilant eyes in India has multiplied,” he says. He also talks about the intersectional nature of problems causing suicide, and how always equating suicide and mental illness is a “horrible myth”.


The panel also discusses the lacunae in entertainment and sports reporting, nepotism and cliques in several industries, frivolous court cases, and much more. 


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