ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Anxieties in the Republic

Media Metamorphosis and Popular Protest

The public rage following the gang rape of a young woman in Delhi last December was a transformative moment for the media. The mainstream or Old Media of print and television blended with New Media (predominantly the social networking sites) to determine the agenda as the government tried clumsily to deal with the public outcry. How far this New Media universe carries the potential for unleashing social energy and creating social chaos remains to be seen.

The outpouring of public outrage that followed the gang rape of a Delhi student on a private bus on 16 December 2012 is now well recognised as having constituted a tipping point in the public discourse related to the widespread violence against women in India. Less recognised is the evidence it provided of a transformative moment in media presence in the country.

The mobilisations that marked December 2012 would not have been possible without the media, of that there can be little dispute. Strictly speaking, such media-driven discontent is not completely new. We saw intermittent evidence of it during last year’s campaign launched by the India Against Corruption body, which in turn had invited comparisons with the ferment that had marked the Arab Spring of January-February 2011.

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