A letter to the Rajasthan Patrika owner, Mr Gulab Kothari

You speak of reservation based on economic status. Your argument is that there are poor people of every caste, it is quite right – every caste has poor amongst them. However, has an upper-caste poor ever been killed for touching a hand pump or have idols been washed in gangajal or animal urine after they have touched them?

Recently, a survey published on the front page of your newspaper talked about growing resentment in society due to reservation. This was not the first time a news item was published by your paper against reservation; you have been campaigning against it for a long time. This article was merely a sample of it. Some time ago, you had also published an editorial which spewed venom on the subject, though sermonizing all the while.

I have been a reader of Rajasthan Patrika for the past 17 years. I was about eight when I started reading the paper. But on reading your editorial against reservation, I have discontinued the newspaper and have been urging others to do so.

I am a journalist and a researcher, and therefore I can gauge better the motive behind your article and the survey conducted. In my opinion, you are not able to differentiate between a being a Brahmin and being a journalist. I even doubt your ability to be a good journalist. You have at hand, a newspaper as a powerful tool but you are using it to spread Brahmanvad and its other facet, Manuvad. It is quite possible that this is also resulting in the growing resentment in society. Journalists, like all Indian citizens, have the right to freedom of expression under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. There are no separate laws for a journalist. However, there must be a difference between a journalist and an ordinary citizen. The journalist carries the responsibility to bring forth both sides of an argument. However, journalists with vested interests, a category you seem to belong to, can write anything these days, which may increase conflict in society.

Why reservation? I do hope you know the basic fact that reservation is a result of casteism. However, none of your articles, editorials or table-top surveys mentioned that there is resentment in society due to casteism. Probably the issue is not on your agenda. As a journalist, you have a moral obligation to speak of how society is poisoned through caste. Before you analyse the caste problem, you need to introspect whether being a Brahmin is coming in the way of your journalism. You seem to have no problem with casteism and are, in fact, one of its supporters. You supposedly do not want any conflict but are in favour of ‘harmony’ as propagated by the RSS (yes, the Mohan Bhagwat type).

Survey published by Rajasthan Patrika on 2 October 2018

What did you wish to prove by conducting a survey and placing it as a lead story? Was it because elections are round the corner? And you thought it was time to bring up the issue of scrapping reservation? It is possible that you conducted your survey sitting at your table, or just made it up, or maybe asked those people who answered the way you wanted them to – in present-day journalism anything is possible. I had once analysed your newspaper for my research topic regarding news published on Dalit matters in Jaipur newspapers and had found that in a three-month period, news of atrocities on Dalits did not figure at all in your newspaper. During that period, there were nearly 1,750 cases registered as atrocities committed on Dalits in Rajasthan, but only three made it to your newspaper. These too were buried in the inside pages of the newspaper. When you read the news pieces, it would not seem like anything of consequence had taken place.

Reservation exists all over the world in some form or the other. The one in India, that encourages those who have been oppressed through brahmanical ideology, is exemplary. It is due to the reservation that oppressed people – the very same people whose very shadow you would consider profane – are able to stand on an equal footing with you. You are unhappy that reservation is steadily bringing an end to your so-called power and prestige. You spew venom against reservation, but what about casteism? You want that to prevail. You want an RSS kind of harmony wherein society is divided into four varnas, but you will not achieve this. You want harmony in society but not equality. People are beginning to see through your wordplay.  

You advocate reservation based on economic criteria. You argue that there are poor people in every caste, and this is true. But has any poor person belonging to an upper caste been made to get off the ceremonial mare at a wedding or made to walk to the bride’s house wearing a helmet? Or have they been stopped from entering a temple or have idols been washed with gangajal and animal urine if they touched it? Shouldn’t reservation be given on the basis of the discrimination faced? When there is discrimination based on economic reasons, we should have no objection to a system of reservation that addresses it.  

There are some genuine misgivings regarding reservation and it is true that it can be implemented in a better manner. I too believe that in places, reservation is being misused. However, there is misuse of your newspaper as well. Why should your paper not be shut down given that it has a history of coercing people or targeting people for vested interests?

In America, when it was evident that the Native Americans were not being represented in the media, the media organizations came together and in one voice spoke for increased representation. This is not possible in India. Here, journalists tend to hide their caste for fear of the ‘unexpected’. I do not know how many Dalits figure in the top ten positions in your organization. I am sure there are none. All of them must be from the so-called upper castes. No matter how capable a Dalit is, they will not be appreciated by people like you. This is the reason we have the policy of reservation.

Just think, Mr Kothari, 85 per cent of the population comes under the very same reservation that you oppose. They are now beginning to recognize their rights and identify those who are trying to take their rights away from them. If these people stop buying your newspaper, you might have to shut up shop. Just think – the people who pick up the newspaper from distribution points in the wee hours of the morning are mostly from this reserved community. This is the age of social media. It shouldn’t come to pass that they refuse to distribute your paper. Do ponder over this and yes, do meet people other than Mohan Bhagwat. It will expand your horizon.

Translation: Maitreyee Saha; copy-editing: Saumya/Lokesh


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