Casteist slant in media reportage
by Mahesh Chandrasekaran on 26 Jul 2009 8 Comments

For decades, the mainstream newspapers (and now electronic media), instead of exposing the lies and falsehood propagated by various political/liberal/Marxist elements, have actively collaborated and colluded in projecting certain sections of Hindus as eternal wrongdoers and spared no pains to instigate antipathy towards them.

In the process, numerous national institutions (owned and operated by the Government with public money) have been demeaned and devalued, and aspersions cast on highly qualified professionals managing these institutions. The following is a small instance of how a routine action of a premier institute was given a caste twist and its Heads exposed to extra-judicial trial.

In June 2008, 20 students of IIT Delhi were reportedly asked to leave for poor academic performance. The category-wise break-up was as follows:

- 11 (55% of those asked to leave) reportedly belonged to the SC category 
- 1 belonged to the ST category 
- The remaining 8 (40%) were of unspecified identity, euphemistically called the “General Category”

Three facts stand out from an analysis of media reportage on the above issue:

(1) Total disregard for facts;
(2) Over-enthusiasm of the media (voluntary or forced, one cannot say) to appear as saviour of particular sections of society; and
(3) Absolute unwillingness of the media to consider the rights of those outside the reservation system and subject to the same penalties.

The media reportage on the numbers is quite revealing. Accuracy and truth have become easy casualties. This is how media reported the numbers:

The Hindustan Times:
? About 20 SC/ST students …removed…on grounds of poor performance (17 June 2009)

The Indian Express
? 20 students, 12 from the SC/ST category (18 June 2008 and 22 July 2008)
- 12 … students belonging to SC category (17 June 2008)
- 28 students…expelled…20…from SC/ST, others from GC…OBC & minority (26 June 2008)
- 20 students…11 from SC category, 1 from ST category and remaining 8 from GC (2 July 2008)

- The institute expelled 12 SC students…The…institute had expelled 25 students, including 12 belonging to the SC category…the decision to expel the 25 students was taken by the IIT board…(18 June 2008)
- The recent decision of…(IIT), Delhi, to terminate 25 students, many of them from the scheduled caste category…

The Telegraph
- In all, 20 students had been expelled for poor performance, including a Scheduled Tribe student and eight from the general category (3 July 2008)


- The SC Commission…has summoned the IIT Director to explain why it had asked 12 of its SC students to leave the institute mid-course.


- …the institute has asked so many students to leave; 12 of them are Dalits… the institute claims that 20 termination letters were dispatched, students suspect that there are 28 expulsions of which at least 18-20 are SC/STs.

As can be seen from above, the HT mentions about 20 SC/ST students, Indian Express mentions 20 students, mentions 12 SC students, a week later mentions 28 and another week later mentions 20! The DNA mentions 12 SC students and in the same report mentions 25 students. The Telegraph mentions 20 students, the NDTV mentions 12 SC students, while the Tehelka in the same news report mentions 12, 28 and 18-20.

Flawed reportage

We now hope to show how unverified allegations of “caste discrimination” were played up by media people, ironically many with very upper caste surnames!

As mentioned, initially 20 students were asked to leave of which 11 (55%) reportedly belonged to the SC category, one to the ST category, and the remaining 8 (40%) were of unspecified or “General Category.” A careful study of the news reports reveals certain flaws in reporting:

(1) Almost all headlines highlighted the expulsion of “SC/ST” students, disregarding the fact that another eight (not an insubstantial number) belonged to the so-called General Category.

(2) Some of the highly suggestive headlines reporting the incident were - “IIT-Delhi to review expulsions of 20 SC/ST students;” “Commission questions IIT-Delhi's decision to expel SC students;”IIT Delhi revokes expulsion of three Dalit students;” “IIT shuts door on 9 Dalit students;” IIT-D asked to review SC/ST students’ expulsion” There is no hint that 40% of the students asked to leave belonged to the so-called General Category, which suggests that the request to leave was based on ACADEMIC and not CASTE considerations.

(3) All news reports highlighted allegations of “discrimination” but none asked if the eight non-SC/ST students also suffered ‘caste’ discrimination from the same teachers who likely shared the same caste background as them.

(4) The SC students took their grievances to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, but the remaining eight students, equally citizens of India, had no such forum to turn to for redressal of their grievances.

(5) None in the media bothered to report that an overwhelming majority of students of SC/ST and other categories were successfully completing their courses and acquiring their degrees. They did not inquire why only 12 of several hundred SC/ST students were asked to leave. If the intention was to get rid of SC/ST students, why weren’t more asked to leave? [The number of SC students who were asked to leave IIT Delhi for unsatisfactory performance during 2004, 05, 06 & 07 was 5, 4, 9 & 3 respectively (4-11%); the rest (89-96%) completed their courses, unsung by the bleeding heart liberals]

(6) One very serious allegation levelled was that SC/ST students were not given “proper remedial/extra coaching in English, Maths, etc., and instead diverted to extra curricular activities etc.” But what about the overwhelming majority of SC/ST students who successfully completed the courses - were they alone given extra coaching?

(7) Incidentally, an extremely vicious article “IITs: Doing Manu Proud” (about Chennai IIT) doing the rounds of the web-world ridicules “remedial/ preparatory coaching” as insulting. So what does one make out of (a) complaints of remedial coaching not being given, (b) remedial coaching being condemned, and (c) a direction that remedial coaching be given?

(8) Some students protesting against the expulsion claimed that “that the evaluation and grading system was arbitrary and lacked transparency”. Maybe; but was it so only for these 20 students?

(9) One allegation (reported in the media) was that “every year there are a few cases of Dalit students being expelled because of “low academic performance” but the number was quite high this year.” Yet 40% (not a small number) of those expelled from IIT Delhi in 2008 belonged to the General Category. What about that?

(10) The expulsion of three students was subsequently revoked. But one news report says “the expulsion of three Dalit students was cancelled” at one place, “two (were) from the scheduled caste category” at another place and “the expulsion of the three Dalit students has now been cancelled” at yet another place - all in the same report”! This is mindlessness at its best.

(11) One news report reads “Recently, the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes had summoned IIT Delhi Director…on a complaint that the administration had deliberately handpicked the students from the SC/ST communities” This correspondent didn’t even know that SCs and STs are different and that the grievances of STs are attended to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and not by the NCSC!

(12) An appallingly illiterate correspondent who had no idea of the issue at hand chose to write (18 June 2008): “Even as …IIT, Delhi, gets ready to implement the 27% OBC reservation from this year, it finds itself embroiled in another quota mess.” Had the issue anything to do with ‘quota’?

(13) Despite all the slanted reporting, one report actually said, “But things are better at IIT, Delhi, where yearly dropout rates have stabilised in the range of 3-9 for SC/STs combined after a peak of 23 in 2002”! Doesn’t this report contradict the complaints of alleged “caste discrimination”?

(14) Among the open seat holders (the word ‘merit’ is rejected as dirty) the number of students asked to leave during 2004, 05, 06 & 07 was 3, 1, 4 & 2 raging between (.25-1%). So is this “caste discrimination” or some other category of discrimination?


The author is an independent researcher

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