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Monday, May 26, 2008

How do you interpret human tragedy?

I've been reading about human tragedies all over the place - China quake, Myanmar cyclone, Arushi murder case in Noida, Neeraj Grover being hacked to 300 pieces in Mumbai. In all of this, I can't understand how to interpret human tragedy. A few years ago, I had to go down south to Pondicherry and Devinampatnam to make a documentary on the devastation caused by the tsunami. I had later written a piece for the Education Times portal. Here's an excerpt:
How do you interpret human tragedy?
The line of questioning was the most crucial. For any human interest story, the style of narrative has to strike a chord within the reader. We thought it would be a painful experience for families to narrate their tragic stories. Why woul anyone want to go through all that pain again? But we were wrong. These were people who were never asked for opinions. They wanted to talk. They wanted to be heard. It wasn't just the destruction caused by the tsunami that caused them grief. It was also the government's slow response, lack o relief supplies, the fact that people in Mumbai and Delhi sent their old clothes for distribution among the tsunami-affected families. This was a great cause for concern. These were fisherfolk, not beggars. The tragedy wasn't about what they had lost, but about what they were going to lose. They feared they would lose their self-respect. In no way we could do that. As journalists we had to respect their privacy.
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