Reactions to Barkha Dutt's comments on stereotyping India range from fanfare to trashing
Journalist Barkha Dutt was recently part of a panel including Leslee Udwin, the maker of the documentary "India’s Daughter", at the sixth annual Women in the World Summit organised in New York from April 22 to April 24. After Dutt’s “fierce disagreement with the narrative that’s been built around my country” went viral, she has become a topic of debate on the Internet.During the discussion on gender issues, Norah O’Donnell of CBS, spoke about the December 2012 rape and murder of a physiotherapy student in India’s capital and said, ““I had no idea India was so unsafe for women.”What follows next is Dutt disagreeing, quoting Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on how the statistics on sexual violence in the United Kingdom and the United States is much higher than in India.While initially, several media reports commended the way Dutt ‘silenced’ O’Donnel and fought for the country’s pride, it was not too late before views slamming her cropped up too. On Thursday, NDTV published a blog by Dutt in which the latter comments on the overwhelming response she has received on her video. She writes, "I said that while I accepted there were many problems and challenges we are battling in India - the refusal by our law-makers to recognise marital rape and the molestation and murder of a young woman pushed off a bus in Punjab are the most recent flashpoints - I believe every country is struggling with entrenched misogyny in varied ways. The gender debate, in effect, is a global one."Media coverageIn a report titled “Barkha Dutt Silences A Foreign Reporter Who Said 'India Is So Unsafe For Women'", ScoopWhoop describes the discussion as one “where Barkha takes down preconceived notions of gender issues in India”.Referring to the ScoopWhoop article, FirstPost in a detailed report on the discussion, observes, “The fact is, the moderator seems 'silenced' only because the site has chosen to cut exactly one minute and 46 seconds from a video that is originally over 30 minutes long. In fact, right after Dutt finishes her argument, O'Donnell though slightly stumped asks why it took the murder of a girl for the country to rise in protest.”The Indian Express also carried the viral video clip with the headline “Video: When Barkha Dutt corrected a foreign anchor for stereotyping India on women’s safety”MensXP went ahead an extra step and attached a graph with statistics that “support her (Dutts’) argument quite overwhelmingly.” The headline they used was “Barkha Dutt Shuts Down an Anchor, Slashes misconceptions about women in India.”The report also had a suggestion for the journalist at the end- “Now, only if such determination and grit, as shown by Barkha Dutt in defending the reputation of the country, is instilled in our politicians, India would become one of the safest nations on this planet.”On Wednesday, Business Standard published a report on “Why Barkha Dutt is wrong about women's safety in India”.The report breaks down Dutt’s “exceptionally flawed and one-dimensional arguments” and counters them individually. Questioning the comparison of statistics on sexual violence in the US and the UK to that of India, Nikhil Inamdar writes, “Even if this is indeed true, how does it in any manner absolve us from the moral burden of the fact that 93 women are raped every single day in India? And why must the US and UK perpetually validate or become benchmarks for what is and isn't acceptable for us?”A letter addressed to Barkha Dutt by an anonymous writer published on AkkarBakkar states how crimes against women aren’t limited to rapes and sexual violence.“Crime against women is a global phenomenon and not a nationalist issue that you go about being jingoistic,” reads part of the letter.Ritu Kapur disagrees with Barkha and wrote in The Quint: "I would love to join Barkha in this happy number painting, and crow about India having a woman Prime Minister four decades ago . But with less that 11% representation of women in the Parliament today, this narrative of 40 years ago seems as buried in history as the evergreen Indian claim – “Jab zero diya mere Bharat ne”.