The media is reporting developments on Baby Falak’s story with “breaking news” dedication. Under the media spotlight, the administration too is pursuing the case with demented zeal, arresting the purported mother who will now undergo a DNA test. All to what end?
The incident is gut wrenching, nauseating. But in this “human interest” story, the more pertinent question than the specifics themselves is how are those riveted unable to extrapolate to the other vulnerable children around us. What do people think happens to street kids? Is the general perception that a child, homeless on the street is living a secure life, protected from physical and sexual abuse? Some months back, Delhi police put out an identification appeal ad in the newspaper – the small child had been murdered by strangulation. It went unnoticed. A child worker in a bindi factory was beaten to death. It made the news, and then an odd print report or two but there was no interest.
We see children on traffic lights peddling pens, balloons, magazines. We see unsee them. This breathless interest in baby Falak is the Indian middle class, and especially the media at its most venal – voyeuristically interested in the tragic specifics, but mindless, uncaring of what that one instance typifies.