By Invitation: Letter to Rajdeep Sardesai

Sameer Wagle wrote to CNN-IBN about journalistic neutrality and the current public protests over reservations

Hi Rajdeep,

I am quite distressed by your recent coverage of the debate over reservations. In your aim to be seen to be “politically correct” you are missing the big picture :

The anti-reservation stir has been led by idealistic students with no political axe to grind. They are fighting on principles without any resources to back them and facing the might of the government.

The pro-reservation agitation on the other hand is led by jobless professional politicians (Dalit Panthers etc) who are doing so mainly for vote-bank politics. The number of anti-reservation students far exceeds whatever few people the pro-reservation politicians can gather.

Yet you equate the two in a bid to be seen as fair. This is not objective journalism. Every news coverage that you give to the anti-reservation guys you will show some 10-15 pro-reservation guys just to look balanced. You don’t look at the numbers of people, their backgrounds or their motivation levels

If you really believe in presenting a fair picture you must highlight these facts. Present news as it is and not news as should be!

Best regards

Sameer Wagle

16 thoughts on “By Invitation: Letter to Rajdeep Sardesai”

  1. Off Topic:
    ‘‘India is not a democratic country’’. ‘‘The biggest PR myth
    of all times is that India is a democracy. In reality, it is not,’’
    thats the latest from Arundhati Roy. I think its time she is packed off to Pakistan.

  2. Hi Sameer,
    Perhaps, Rajdeep Sardesi is only doing his duty by making news on reservation ‘more dramatic’ for his coffee-drinking, Barista visiting audience. As one surfs through the mushrooming news channels, the jurnos out there seem more keen to hold sway the TRP ratings rather than reporting news.Media,one of the pillars of democracy should not be imposing their views on the muted audience. Allow the people to give their verdict.

    Comming to the issue of reservation, if such a quota is enacted by the law, its simlpe logic that it stands against that very Constitution that guarantees equality to all its citizens[ A 4th std kid doing Civics will tell you that] . While the nation is divided upon the issue of ‘equality of opportunity’ vs ‘equality of outcome’, its time we recall that part of the population that costitute the ‘statistical purdha’ie WOMAN ! Travel to the interiors of our great nation to face the wrath of patriarchal notions…..Hmmmmmmm…Maybe, Rajdeep Sardesi would then give a far more ‘holistic’ meaning to the job of ‘news reporting’.

  3. Clearly, CNN-IBN must be doing something right, because the intelligence-impaired bloggers over at are accusing them of being biased towards the anti-reservationists….

  4. Sameer,

    I’m not so sure if CNN-IBN is wanting to be neutral – they infact brought out a formula FOR reservation – a different formula than the HRD one, but one for reservation, no doubt. So, if anything, they’re trying to stir the debate into a pro-reservation thingy.

    The Dalit Panthers are a lot more than jobless professional politicians – if I recall right, they’re linked to both Verappan and the TNLF(a terrorist organisation)


    You assume, quite wrongly that the folks protesting arent the ones who’d otherwise hang-out at Barista, please give us young folks some credit!

  5. Nitin,

    I think CNN – IBN has a pro-reservation tilt to some extent.


    I think Barista, McDonald’s etc are overpriced.


  6. If you think CNN IBN is bad, take a look at NDTV 24×7. They’ve done themselves proud in Gujarat with Barkha and her reporting. Now they’ve come back with a pro reservation stance.

    It is also interesting that most of the panel discussions I’ve seen on the network have had halfwits pontificating on the merits and demerits of reservation.

  7. NDTV is a lost cause…

    Did you guys get a chance to see Karan Thapar – pretty enlighting on Arjun Singh’s thought process. I guess nothing in India is data driven…stuff is just made up.

    “Karan Thapar: Absolutely, Parliament has taken a view, I grant it. But what people question is the simple fact – Is there a need for reservations? If you don’t know what percentage of the country is OBC, and if furthermore, the NSSO is correct in pointing out that already 23.5 per cent of the college seats are with the OBC, then you don’t have a case in terms of need.

    Arjun Singh: College seats, I don’t know.

    Karan Thapar: According to the NSSO – which is a government appointed body – 23.5 per cent of the college seats are already with the OBCs.

    Arjun Singh: What do you mean by college seats?

    Karan Thapar: University seats, seats of higher education.

    Arjun Singh: Well, I don’t know I have not come across that far.”

    And there is more. It would have been funny if this policy isn’t going to destroy so many peoples life ambitions.

  8. I genuinely believe in affirtmative action for disadvantaged castes. At the same time, I think reservations are not the right way to go about it, and that in fact caste-based quotas are a dangerous idea. Quotas will be taken advantage of by only the well-heeled among the backward castes, just as the best opportunities are taken advnatage of by urban uppercastes, just as SC/ST quotas are cornered by the children of those who already benefitted from them.

    Unfortunately, the striking students have not shown much imagination. It is an open secret that the Congress party’s aim is to regain its lost votebanks, not to uplift the down-trodden. Students should expose this venal politics. They could demand several things:

    1. Deman that quotas must be implemented “top down”. Start with the Union Cabinet. Why do we need an upper caste prime minister? An upper caste HRD minister? Demand a cabinet reshuffle to incroporate quotas pronto. 25% SC/ST ministers, half of cabinet and half state rank. 27% OBC ministers. Demand that Arjun Singh resign in favor of a dalit minister. Students may specifically demand that Arjun Singh be removed to make way for Meera Kumar.

    3. Demand that 27% of parliament seats be reserved for OBCs. That the constituenices to be earmarked for OBCs be identified pronto.

    4. Demand the scrapping of MPLADS scheme. That will free up 1600 crores a year. Demand that this sum be spent on quality primary schools catering exclusively to dalit and OBC children, in towns and villages.

    5. State that they have no objection to caste-based quotas in premier institutions after the above demands have been met and put in practice.

  9. The interesting fact is that Barkha Dutt is the foster-daughter of Prannoy Roy. NDTV staff are overwhelmingly uppercaste, and most of them owe their jobs to old-boy network. I wonder which is worse: casteism or nepotism.

    Sachin Pilot was on TV the other day. I’m struck by the complete lack of self-awareness in these politicians. Surely, the young Mr Pilot owes his parliamentary seat not only to being born in a certain caste, but being born in a certain family as well.

  10. Given that the majority of the Indian population probably fall into the reserved categories and thus benefit (at least superficially) from reservation, why is it surprising that the majority of people would back reservation ?

    In the longer term, of course, reservation has a negative impact on merit,

  11. Jatin,

    Not that I’ve heard of. Fairness demands that if Rajdeep writes back to Sameer, it will also be posted here.

  12. Gaurav,

    Agree on the Mc. Barista’s alright!

    Alok Patel,

    Barkha did someone proud by her reporting?! :-O
    If anything she generally needs to be the center of attention.

  13. The MSM has already reached a new low in the US as far as credibility is concerned, with the Blogosphere on both sides of the liberal-conservative divide becoming the main sources of information dissemination. I have a feeling that a similar situation bodes for “our” hacks as well.

  14. The anti-reservation stir has been led by idealistic students with no political axe to grind.
    Yeah right. The middle class is out to save the Constituton! That the middle class happens to be dominated by the upper-castes is a non-issue. Right?

    The pro-reservation agitation on the other hand is led by jobless professional politicians (Dalit Panthers etc) who are doing so mainly for vote-bank politics.

    I am pro-reservation. I am not a politcian. Neither are the pro-reservation doctors at AIIMS who have organsed themselves under the banner ‘Medicos for Equal Opportunities’. Neither is the JNU Students Union. And the group of doctors who split from the Indan Medical Association (IMA) – they are no politicians either.

    As for vote bank politcs, one man’s vote bank politics is another man’s democracy.

    I also want to thank Tarun Pall for his comment, “Clearly, CNN-IBN must be doing something right, because the intelligence-impaired bloggers over at are accusing them of being biased towards the anti-reservationists….”

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