Mita Zulca is arguably the most visible journalist in Sikkim with the sharpest questioning of the establishment. This is a rare quality seen in the state. During the pre-SKM governed Sikkim, she was a leading journalistic voice raised against the SDF government. Now she has redirected her questions against the SKM government with the same fervour. She has been a nemesis for both camps. She has her admirers and haters across the political spectrum. She has become the victim of some of the most vehement trolls and threats.
Her critics and defenders can argue endlessly. However, Sikkim must mull over why our journalistically young and rather immature state needs a person like her. Here are my four reasons:
Nose for news: For a freelancer, with no media machinery at her disposal, to sniff out news and then collect the required basic details with tremendous speed is a stunning feat. She often outpaces many local media groups in breaking news. In this smart-phone age, anyone who fails to maintain such a lightning pace merely becomes a “sharer”. She also has a knack for giving an intriguing angle to certain news. One may not necessarily like her angle all the time but news can hardly be spiced up to please all the people all the time – in fact, it shouldn’t be. News is not meant to pamper our fancies but rather to inform us of facts and issues.
Spunk to take on the establishment: One of Sikkim journalism’s biggest problems is its brazen extremism – you are either for the government and defend every stupid step or you are fully against the government and criticise even the noblest of achievements. Maybe this is a worldwide problem in our age but where Sikkim loses big time is with premature journalists acting over-smart. Every right-thinking Sikkimese should shudder to see a group of immature self-proclaimed journalists who mistake recklessness for bravery. Just as mere association with a media group or a media microphone held in hand hardly make one a journalist – reckless shouting, thoughtless questioning and mindless scribbling do not represent journalistic bravery. This is where Mita Zulca’s style and expertise add tremendous value to our state journalism. She chooses to stand against the most powerful political force (be it SDF or SKM or BJP) and pepper them with the toughest questions. For the most part, she does her homework (investigation) well and presents her questions and arguments reasonably. It is human nature to like to play to the gallery but she often makes an effort to load her arguments with intellectual value and reasoning.
She faces ugly remarks and beastly threats head-on. That is called spunk. I have not heard of a more courageous voice raised so fearlessly and consistently. It is easy to swim with the tide or hibernate when the tide is high. It is easier still to roar when roaring involves no risk. As they say, when the tide is low, every little shrimp has a puddle of his own. However, she roars when it seems to be the riskiest option and swims when the tide is high. And she is doing it when she is not in the best of health.
Her seemingly partisan stance: One of the allegations against her is her visibly strong political leanings. Her critics, perhaps rightly, disapprove of her vocal support of one camp and open conflict with the other camp. But a deeper look into her seeming partisan campaign is more to do with her “political de-leanings from” than her “leanings to” certain parties. She supports a certain political campaign, not so much for her total agreement with it, as for her disagreements with the opponent party/ies. In the 2014 elections, she supported SKM and in 2019 her posts were more favourable to the SDF. Close scrutiny of the contents of her posts suggests that she was representing her disagreements with the party that she was opposing rather than her agreement with the party she was supporting. In other words, she was using the default position of a certain political party to launch her resistance against the certain tendencies/ideologies/activities of the other party. Since she apparently has no political ambition of her own, such tactics on her part benefit and enriches Sikkim politics. Simply put, her political battles are not driven by a motive of personal gain. In a typical political battle, most of the forefront fighters are motivated by a party ticket, a nomination to an attractive position, contract work etc. It is hard to accuse her of such motivations. I hope I will not be proven wrong.
Her wrong choice: The only comfort for those who are in the camp opposite her is that the party she supports loses. I have seen her critics highlighting this particular point on social media. This coincidence is again good for Sikkim politics. A questioning voice aligned with the government and singing the same tune would be a big loss for Sikkim. Sikkim politics gain when a bold questioner stands in opposition to the government. It is also good for the government. There is never a dearth of those who are busily toadying to the powers that be and saying pleasant things to earn favour. But how rarely a conflicting voice based on genuine reasoning is heard in Sikkim. The leaders in power would do well to come out of their echo chambers and hear a voice that questions. It is not pleasant to hear but it is certainly helpful in the long run if taken seriously and constructively. The time comes when praising voices disappear but a questioning voice, if neglected, persists to haunt. Oscar Wilde rightly put it this way – a true friend stabs you in the front. Mita Zulca can be a good friend of politicians who are willing to listen to her questioning sincerely.
She is certainly not infallible. Some of her observations may be wrong and even biased. Time is powerful enough to distil genuinely useful and valuable contributions from what is useless. But her fearless voice and well-researched arguments do contribute uniquely to the furtherance of Sikkim.
“She faces the ugliest of remarks and some beastly threats head-on. That is called spunk. I have not heard a more courageous voice raised so fearlessly and so consistently. It is easy to swim with the tide or hibernate when the tide is high. It is easier still to roar when roaring involves no risk. However, she roars when it seems to be the riskiest option and swims when the tide is high.”
By Jiwan Rai, the author can be contacted at email@example.com
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