No news is good news unless it is bad news?

One of the hackneyed charges against Western hacks in India is that they diligently separate the wheat from the chaff and report the chaff. India’s successes, triumphs and achievements, we are told ad nauseam, are ignored by the “nattering nabobs of negativism” who can only see death, disease and despair; floods, famines and failure.

KANCHAN KAUR forwards a story from the latest issue of the superb tech magazine Wired, which looks at India’s underground trade in human remains. For long, India was the world’s primary source of bones used in medical study. Officially, the export was banned in 1985, but Scott Carney reports that the trade still going on.

Coming in the wake of The Observer‘s undercover story on use of child labour for Gap products, and in the wake of the New York Times story on manhole overs being fabricated by foot in Bengal, is the western media’s infatuation with India’s tech boom, the new billionaires, the growing consumption, etc, over?

And is it back to business as usual for the foreign correspondents?

On the other hand, isn’t this what journalism is all about? Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. Throwing light in the dark nooks and corners that we want to turn away from.

Is it such a bad thing that the western media should alert us to what is happening in our backyard when our media seem inclined to ignore the warts? Is the western media dutybound to buy into the new rising, shining, incredible India? Should the media only be purveying good news, as the former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam believes?

Isn’t there a difference between advertising and journalism, hacks and flacks? Or have we lost the ability to distinguish?

Read the Wired story here: Inside India’s underground trade in human remains

Illustration: courtesy Wired