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Channels deny high caste bias in anti-quota stir

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, June 6: Representatives of leading TV channels today sought to defend the electronic media's coverage of the quota issue, saying they did not act with a pro-uppercaste bias while reporting the anti-reservation stir.

They were responding to staunch quota supporter and Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav's remarks that media dominated by upper castes was exaggerating anti-reservation feelings at a debate organised by the India Women's Press Corps here.

''There was no conspiracy in reporting the issue and we neither played up or played down the anti-reservation stir'' said Rajdeep Sardesai of the CNN-IBN,'' Arnab Goswami of Times Now and Ram Kripal Singh of Aajtak.

Mr Yadav had said it was unfortunate that steps for undoing centuries of injustice to the weaker sections of the country should invite so much opposition from the upper caste. He felt anti-reservationists were only a handful of people given undue attention by the media.

The electronic media representatives argued that those in favour of reservation were not so vocal, and they did not come out in a marked way to be reported.

The reporters could report only what they saw in the field and they were not expected to research and analyse. It is the limitation of the medium, Mr Goswami said.

Mr Kripal said,'' TV was not a medium of self-expression and it has to act under market pressure''.

Mr Desai said it was very easy to hit Television for all kind of things that one thought were not right, but TV was a reality and one has to accept it. It cannot turn its eye from a reality which some people do not like.

''The anti-resrevation feelings were widespread among the middle class. And if one were to compare the nation's reaction to Mandal with that of today, one should keep in mind that the middle class had now found a platform in the electronic media to give vent to its views.

Media was just reflecting a reality which may not please some, he added.

He said both pro and anti-reservationists had shown high degree of intolernace during the whole debate in the country.

Media has its limitations but it should not be dismissed as conspitorial, and one must not presume that upper castes in the media were not sensitive to rights of weaker sections, Mr Desai said.

Speaking earlier, Mr Yadav felt that reservation was needed so long as there was caste system.

Mr Yadav said suggestions to give reservation on the economic basis it was a ploy to befool the backward classes. Professor Ritu Priya of the JNU also defended reservation. She said studies had shown that reservations had done good to the Scheduled Castes and they had come up the social and economic ladder. She said it was wrong to assume that students who entered an institution through quota were devoid of merit. ''In fact, they are the best ones of the class they come from,'' she added.

It is only the mediocre students among the general class who are afraid of quota as they see the space shrinking for them, she said.

''In fact the reservation now being proposed for the backwards is only a process of dereservation of the space meant for the upper castes for centuries,'' said the JNU professor.

Dr Priya said upper castes acceptance of equlity as a principle which was inspired by the ideology of the leaders of the freedom movement had come down during the last 50 years.

''The level of upper caste tolerance for the lower castes has very much to do with economic policies of liberalisation and globalisation. The very nature of the set up presumed under these regimes aims at further exclusion of the underprivileged,'' she said.

However, Prof P V Iniresan, former IIT-Mumbai Director made a strong case against reservation and for maintaing excellence in institutions of higher learning. He said no reasonable person would support reservation as it tended to sidetrack merit.


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