In India, a country celebrated for its diversity and plurality, where academic excellence and achievements are hailed by media outlets, a strange trend of selective journalism has started to rear its head. One such conspicuous case that has recently come into the spotlight is that of Vibhu Upadhyay, a rank holder in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). His offence: Crediting Ganga Aarti as his source of inspiration.
Let’s understand this anomaly that applies only on the likes of Vibhu Upadhyay.
How Ganga Aarti made an impact on Vibhu Upadhyay
Vibhu Upadhyay hails from the town of Badayun in Uttar Pradesh. His achievement is nothing short of commendable; he cracked the NEET exam in his very first attempt, securing an impressive score of 622 out of a total 720. Despite this noteworthy accomplishment, the mainstream media has surprisingly steered clear of covering his achievement. This conspicuous absence of coverage makes one ponder over the parameters that media entities use to decide which academic triumphs deserve the spotlight.
Vibhu Upadhyay is a proud adherent of his indigenous culture and has no qualms about his religious practices. A firm believer in the sanctity of the river Ganges, referred to as Ganga Maiya, Vibhu has been performing Ganga Aarti at Kacchla Ghat since 2019. He attributes his academic success not just to his hard work and diligence, but also to the divine blessings of Ganga Maiya. He also acknowledges the constant support of his parents, teachers, and DK Singh, the former District Magistrate of his district who initiated the Ganga Aarti programme in 2019.
Vibhu Upadhyay strongly believes that such initiatives hold immense potential in bridging the gap between the youth and Sanatan Dharma, the indigenous religion and culture of India. The young achiever has candidly shared how performing the Ganga Aarti has positively impacted his life. By spending one hour each day in this spiritual practice, Vibhu maintained his focus and calmness, which were instrumental in his academic success.
The usual suspects
Despite his public and unapologetic adherence to his faith, Vibhu’s achievements have seemingly been brushed under the carpet. The media’s lack of recognition raises important questions about the role of personal beliefs and practices in determining one’s eligibility for public accolades.
Vibhu Upadhyay is not alone in this unfortunate situation of selective recognition. Prabhanjan, another brilliant student who topped the NEET exam in India, was deprived of any acknowledgment from the Tamil Nadu government. It took a congratulatory note from K Annamalai, a prominent political figure, for the government to break its silence.
This trend of selective praise bears an uncanny resemblance to the recent backlash faced by Neeraj Chopra, an Olympic gold medalist in javelin throw. Chopra was criticized by certain factions of society who disagreed with his personal beliefs, despite his monumental achievement at an international level.
Such incidents highlight a worrisome pattern in Indian society and media, where the celebration of achievements is influenced by personal ideologies and biases. This brings to the forefront an urgent need for introspection and a reassessment of how we, as a society, choose to acknowledge accomplishments.
It’s high time we collectively strive for impartiality in recognizing and applauding academic and other achievements. Personal beliefs and practices should never determine an individual’s worthiness of public recognition. We need to cherish and celebrate achievements in their own right, detached from any personal ideologies or biases. A step in this direction will ensure that deserving individuals like Vibhu Upadhyay and Prabhanjan are duly recognized, setting a fair and respectful precedent for future generations
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