The caste arithmetic

Come election time, and you will see our newspapers educate everyone on the classic caste arithmetics. If you have been following the hyped up coverage around Chamundeshwari by-poll, you may have read the numbers all major newspapers served last week (ToI and Deccan Herald certainly did, I read both of them). So now I know Chamundeshwari’s composition (quoting nicely rounded off numbers from DH, ToI’s numbers looked lot more precise that these!):

 Lingayats : 70,000
 Vokkaligas : 60,000
 Dalits : 70,000
 Brahmins : 20,000
 Kurubas : 50,000
 Nayakas : 40,000
 Minorities : 26,000
 BCs : 30,000

As I mentioned here a few months ago, my first lessons on precise name/number/composition of castes we have in my state came from newspaper reports like these.

Is this sort of coverage really required? Agreed that as a journalist you want to be smart about predicting the winner by doing these elaborate electoral market surveys. But when your paper’s editorials proudly proclaim caste-ism to be an evil for modern Indian society, don’t you think you could exercise some self-censorship and not report things as crudely as that?

I think so. Because my dear media-men (and women!), as much as you say “we only present facts, you alone are responsible for your actions”, you guys influence our thoughts and actions. Small responsible steps like these will tell us that your editorial words match your actions as well.


13 Responses

  1. The minorities have overtaken the headcount of bramhins!! SO bramhins are the minorities now… does political parties have the guts to talk for them now??

  2. I think media should report about the leaders, their parties and their past deeds (good & bad) so that people who read newspapers should be able to decide on who to vote. For people who cannot read or dont have time for newspapers – there should be independent media sponsored informative roadshows.
    A responsible media can make sure – tomorrow never dies.

  3. Totally agreed on this. Caste based reporting should be avoided.

    My mom was saying just yesterday that our house maid was boasting about some candidate having given her “allowance” for house renovation. He also seemed to have provided electricity for some people, and some hard-cash as well…
    Aren’t these illegal? But who cares.. these things happen in broad day light and nobody is there to stop it.

    So when it comes to politics and “power”, these people surely work by numbers. ANd they KNOW for sure that they can lure these uneducated backward class people with all these “presents”.

    OK, why am I telling all this? In a way these journalists with their “intelligent-report”s are helping the politicians by letting them know where they can concentrate for their propaganda!

  4. I completely agree with Mohan. Political parties never talk about Brahmins because their eye is always towards vote banks of other castes and if some party talks about Brahmins that party will be labeled as “UPPER CASTE” party by dirty politicians and dirty/gutterminded yellow journalists of India. God only must save Indian politics!

  5. By the way – have you ever seen this highlighted: that OBCs are in big majority in almost all legislatures across india? Does this mean non-OBCs need reservation there.

    OBCs are in majority in most regional national level sports as well. Does this mean non-OBCs need reservation there.

    Well – its not the need. Its whether you can help the sleazy politician win elections. He will justify anything for that. Just as he is dying to justify reservations by religion.

    If this is what is democracy – its no good.

  6. See how the caste stats have started a reservation debate here! Goes to prove the point that these this type of blatant caste based reporting should be avoided.

    Since we are talking reservations anyway, let me state that I didn’t participate in the recent debates around it. Because to me it is not as relevant – wrote some stuff here earlier. Stats say that 2 or 3 out of 100 who start primary school get to reach the gates of colleges. I would rather see this energy of the youth (backward, forward or whatever tribe) go towards pushing their governments on their dismal performance on primary education.

  7. Agree this kind of blantant cast reporting should be avoided. But then it’s the law which is hardening such identities – mentioning your caste in resume’s, in govt appln. forms, to universities etc.
    Some time back CM of a State was looking for a Police Chief from a certain community – oh well.. very nice. We do not know if it was appeasement driven or it was the law or simply an unwritten rule. And this quite openly!
    And recently it was found that between the time folks who had applied for KPS (State Public Service), and the results came out, the caste of many applicants was switched in records to allow them to get key jobs (manipulation job.. well done folks..u r the future of administration.. keep it going). This was there in in TOI.

  8. AKD, I too read that news in ToI (KPS one). You are right, caste expressions and preferences are a bit too blatant in general.

  9. So Siddu won, by 257 votes! Let us wait for our newspapers now to do a detailed break up for which community voted for which party.

  10. While you may be right about a very dumbed down media reporting ( But hey arent they just reflective of a dumbed down and mediocre society we inhabit today)I would be wary of trusting whatever they have to say tomorrow about the patterns of voting- as far as the numbers go the pattern seems to be the Congress/Siddu and the JD-S/ Deve Gowda/HDK grabbing close to half each of the votes cast (Not caste- forgive my poor punning but couldnt resist that).
    Speaking tangentially why blame the media alone- whatver we might pitously plead and over righeously claim- caste is a living reality/evil that every part of our silly society practises- Thou doesnt agree? Which sensible man would openly do so?!

  11. Bloggers are no better.. you need to remember you are part of the media.. Media now includes webworld too :-)
    Nothing much intended P.

  12. Early days Veena, media doesn’t include us bloggers yet. The fact is, media drives bloggers. I got the caste stats from regular newspapers. Had they not printed those, there would be no discussion here!

    Shashi sounds good, since all of us indulge in caste-ism, why blame papers alone. I am just saying media has more responsibility as they influence people’s thoughts. Why not at least do these ‘easy’ things while we think of other complicated ideas like rewarding inter-caste marriages and such.

  13. Thats fine SB.. We are no more in the earlier days.. Also, pls give me some stats of this Intercaste Marriage & ur friends…! I am genuinly interested.. I would want 2 meet the couple too…

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