Monday, May 29, 2006

The reservation issue and the media

CNN-IBN's question of the day was "Have the media been one-sided on the reservation issue?". The final tally of the SMS and online poll was: Yes-46% and No-54%.

I just finished watching the program that discussed this question. At the end of it, the anchor, Sagarika Ghose, announced the final tally and declared (and I am paraphrasing here), "Well, 54% are with us".

Strange kind of victory, no? I mean, almost half the people said your coverage was biased ...

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The program featured Shivam Vij (aka Albert Krishna Ali) as a citizen journalist (his picture appeared on the screen for a microsecond), and showed a video clipping of a pro-reservation march through AIIMS. [Update: Albert gives us the story behind how he and his TV footage of the pro-reservation rally made it to this show Face the Nation.]

Among the panelists on Ghose's program was Purushottam Agrawal of JNU (whose affirmative action plan was featured in this post). Surprisingly, he lauded the media for their coverage of the reservation issue; however, when he explained further, it was clear that he was impressed by the fact that the media underplayed the two self-immolation attempts.

More substantive was the participation of Vinod Mehta, the editor of Outlook, who came out strongly against the media. He said he was aghast when a TV channel aired a live program with the anti-reservation protestors; the anchor was discussing -- and in a way egging them on about -- how they can do a Rang De Basanti on Arjun Singh! His second accusation was this: in our merit obsessed society, why did the media miss covering the fact that the elite universities in the US (Harvard, Yale, Princeton) are known so much for their excellence while also pursuing affirmative action? Finally, he accused the media of lack of balance, and termed them unprofessional. His was the only real, meaningful contribution to the program.

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I too did a post on CNN-IBN's bias over at How the Other Half Lives.


  1. Anonymous said...

    It is preposterous that people are still trying to equate AA with reservations. There is no parallel either in form, intent, goal, results or implementation. Most importantly size, it never exceeds perhaps 5% in elite institutes in the US.

  2. Anonymous said...

    intent, goal, results are equal

    Form and Implementation are not at all equal

    For once, the white doctors in America never said that they will commit suicide if blacks are helped to come up.

    And then AMerica fortunately did not have incompetent teachers who say that they cannot teach a student who has scored lesser marks in entrance

  3. Anonymous said...

    Dear Barbarindian:
    1. Slavery in US which resulted in instituionalized discrimination happened over 200 years. Discrimination in India, based on caste lines, institutionalized into Hinduism happened over 2000 years.
    2. Population of Blacks in US is around 10%, population of SC/ST/OBC is anywhere between 60-75%.
    3. Affirmative Action was in effect for nearly 30 years. Though it is not mandatory any more, majority of the institutions and industry continue to keep this in effect. Reservations has been in effect for nearly 60 years for SC/ST and 30 years or less for OBC.

    Finally, both have same intention. To promote oppressed.


  4. Anonymous said...

    actually AA have a far more deeper reacher. It is mandatory that even contractors and sub-contractors of federal govt ensure inclusive representations in their workforce. Further, there is something called set aside funds which ensures certain percentage of contracts go to minority contractors...... this was something envisages in the bhopal declaration... but still our AA remains restricted to education and govt emp....