Friday, February 23, 2007

A basic lack of style

The BBC article "Scheme to aid duped Indian brides" published on the Web on Friday, 23 February 2007 ( to me a sample of shoddy journalism. My reasons follow.

1. It had two pictures, the first of which showed the backs of vaguely Indian looking unidentified women at an unstated venue, not engaged in any particular activity, apart from the act of standing. How this picture was germane to the article is beyond me.

2. "Once dumped, there is little these women can do."

This is disgusting language. Human beings are not objects to be dumped. They may be abandoned, abused, deceived, betrayed, misled and maligned - but not dumped. Of course, I understand that various American TV shows and movies will disagree with me; I expect better from the BBC.

3. "In India a financially well-established son-in-law living in the UK, US or Canada is highly coveted."

What is also desirable is a well-established comma after "India". Furthermore, what the writer presumably means is that prospective sons-in-law are coveted - for it is strange to covet one's own son-in-law!

4. "A Green Card holder in the US [which gives a foreigner right of residency and right to work]...."

The comment in the brackets is misplaced. The US does give a foreigner (millions, actually) the right to work - like almost every country in the world, but that is probably not what the writer meant. The brackets should have followed the phrase "Green Card".

5. "Because of social stigma, they are unable to remarry."

This is a ludicrous generalization, and quite untrue. Divorced women and men do marry again - in their thousands. A woman (or man) who has been left by her or his mate might indeed face some amount of embarrassment and veiled (or not) contempt, but it does not take away their ability to remarry.

6. The caption to the first picture is "The women will be entitled to financial assistance"

Which women, one wonders. Also, I see no connection between the caption and the picture.

7. The second picture is captioned "Dowries have been the subject of much debate in India"

This is banal to the point of silliness. "Dowries" can be replaced with almost anything without detracting from the truth, and triteness, of this assertion. E.g. cricket, the weather, politics, sex, money, religion, language, movies, tigers etc..

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