In late 2014 many of us were dismayed to hear that R4 was changing the Today Programme, to make it less like ‘a club,’ and more accessible to young people and the socially disadvantaged, who apparently don’t listen to it over their pop-tarts in the morning.
The most obvious evidence of this change has been the continuous addition of small ‘humorous’ news items throughout the Today Programme, usually delivered in forced jolly voices, obviously full of dislike for what they are reading.
Today, 19/02/15 was a corker. A light hearted voice told the tale of a wedding in the north Indian town of Rampur where the groom had suffered a seizure just as the sacred garlands were about to be exchanged. His future wife, aged 23, then immediately married someone else, a friend of her brother in law who was in the wedding party.
As this sad little story went on it became less and less amusing and increasingly unpleasant. Instead of a nice little story of eccentricity in the sub-continent it became more like the poignant plot of a new Commonwealth literary novel.
Indian families will not allow the marriage of epileptics any more than they will allow marriages out of caste. In India ninety five percent of epileptics get no treatment, as the drugs aren’t available. People with the condition are less likely to go to school, be employed or get married. That young man, aged 25, who lost his bride in front of his whole community, will probably never get over this humiliation.
To be hoped at sometime in the future he will sit down and write that novel, move to England and enjoy a grand literary life among compassionate people.