Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hu Shuli – The one who took the cudgels against the State

(This post is first in series what one may call as a cliffhanger to the Goa Thinkfest being organized by Tehelka)

As a scribe one of the foremost responsibilities of an individual is to report an event with utmost genuineness without the obvious fudging up of facts. How would you react if as a scribe one is caged in a glass case whereby you can witness the events with their stunning ferocity but when it’s about reporting you are supposed to keep it as a piped down affair? Ugh! What! You’ve already started feeling suffocated questioning your very existence as a snitch! Then this lady’s tale is worth giving attention to who decided to raise her voice as a journo against the very State she was a subject of.

If it was only about caviling for myriad reasons perhaps she would have been lost in the crowd. Hu Shuli called it quits at China’s leading news daily, Worker’s Daily only to become the face of Caijing though this journey was fraught with innumerable pitfalls as much as lessons it brought in for this audacious lady whose temerity was about to set milestones in the regime where strings are pulled when it is sensed that perhaps the horses are galloping way too fast. China is known for its limited freedom to press, an underlying fact that became more than evident in the wake of the Tiananmen Square, 1989 that sent shudders across the globe. One of the fastest growing economies of the globe has its own moribund ways of going about instances recrudescing within its precincts that it either chooses to project or keep under careful wraps.

An article published in NewYorker apprises us of an incident that took place in May, 2008 when the Sichuan province of China was badly hit by an earthquake. No sooner did Hu get the news she immediately set off towards the site of the disaster asking her staff to make arrangements for a satellite phone. This was a bold step taken the fact into consideration that the country doesn’t prefer that kind of Sisyphean coverage of mishaps taking place; a similar quake hit the country way back in 1976 when the government had chosen to keep a mum with regards to the exact death toll rates. So that’s Ms. Shuli – Callous and loquacious and timid only in appearance! Her itinerary of credits includes the various synonyms she earned in her illustrious career with many counterparts hailing from the Chinese as well as foreign turf declaring her as the ‘most dangerous woman in China’.

GoaThinkFest indeed provides with an opportune moment when Hu Shuli would be telling it all how she managed to walk the tight-red-rope all these years. Clambering on to your hard borne contention in a country where journalists are murdered or imprisoned is a feat in itself and Hu has certainly surpassed many obstacles as she bristled past every sojourn. Her tete-a-tete with the Indian en masse also acquires significance in the wake of the recent Kafkaesque that has inflicted a hard-dying blot on the fourth pillar of democracy in India. In the wake of the dwindling state of affairs where politico-journo collusion is being made public through tapes, where biggies in the terrain of journalism are being accused of paid news syndrome with some others trying to snag away their clean collars from the muck of the private equity syndrome, I think an interaction with Hu Shuli would yield to some substantive answers in the Indian context too.

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