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Root Privileges

Disagree as a matter of principle

Personal notes on the Vinod Dua case

Background information + The Wire‘s statements on the issue:

  1. Panel Headed by Former SC Justice Aftab Alam to Examine Allegation Against Vinod Dua
  2. The Wire’s Handling of the Sexual Harassment Charge Against Vinod Dua

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  1. I strongly condemn Vinod Dua’s statements vis-à-vis the #MeToo movement and the women who have spoken up against men and toxic masculinity. This is irrespective of The Wire‘s position on this issue.
  2. I deeply resent that Dua has been attempting to defend himself by claiming the allegations against him are efforts to malign his programme, ‘Jan Gan Man Ki Baat’, with The Wire. I hope he understands that I (and I suspect my colleagues, though I do not speak for them) will not defend him or his actions, irrespective of their legitimacy, if he cannot separate himself from his professional responsibilities.
  3. The Wire has not succeeded in claiming ownership of the narrative with the same vehemence that Dua has demonstrated.
  4. The moral and ethical impetus to suspend Dua became overshadowed by a processual constipation. There was no clarity on how to proceed from the beginning, and as the deliberations dragged on, I – as a member of an organisation, not as an individual – found it increasingly difficult to separate right from wrong and/or became increasingly bewildered about whether my own choices were consistently justifiable, from one day to the next. In other words, while an overarching compulsion to act against Dua persisted, I could determine neither its provenance nor its foundation.
  5. The Dua episode highlighted a central quasi-paradox of the #MeToo movement: its calling out of the failure of due process (excluding public naming and shaming in this definition), and therefore its rejection (starting from Raya Sarkar’s List), whereas the institution/reinstitution of due process was the sole recourse readily available to many managers. This conflict is not insurmountable but it required managers – men, in most cases – to introspect through neural pathways that in many cases did not exist.
  6. I will never understand why The Wire allowed Dua to record a video on its platform wherein he would be allowed to speak of the complaints against him. His seniority and his longstanding association with The Wire don’t matter to me and should not, in fact, to anyone in this context.
  7. What The Wire‘s statement denouncing Dua’s words in the video has failed to mention is that the week’s time Dua set for The Wire to conduct its investigation is nonsensical insofar as it wasn’t his place to do so, and it should have been openly refuted.
  8. To be a committed Indian left-liberal is not easy. If you are a man in particular, be ready to regularly confront – and be expected to resolve – cognitive dissonances, (inadvertent) hypocrisies and forgetfulness. If you are not familiar with the lingua franca, invest efforts to master it.
  9. English is an artful language. It is a weapon but it is more resourceful and effective as the sallet, pauldron and sabatons within which you will always be a knight in shining armour. Learn to use it as much as to see past it.
  10. If there is to be one concrete outcome of #MeToo as a sociopolitical movement, though I hope there is more than one, then it must be for employees at all manner of organisations to remake the work-space to eliminate these structural issues, and in the process better organise themselves as units that transcend the formal hierarchies within the organisations themselves.