The Print should not have published its list of “intellectuals pick their successors” at all. Its editors knew that it had no women and were aware of how that was a problem. They also had to have known that the list was predominantly Hindu and upper-caste. But by publishing it, The Print signalled that it still wanted to attract responses, to display to the world that it had attempted such an exercise, to salvage from its complete failure something that it could still publish and draw attention to itself, and to finally broadcast its atonement by publishing other pieces that corrected its mistakes. The whole exercise stinks.
The latest such piece of atonement is a list of women intellectuals curated by Salil Tripathi. He writes in his piece:
I am glad ThePrint produced its list; it made us think of what such a list should look like. The lists won’t change anything. But if such a list leads us to step out of our comfort zones and read—or familiarise ourselves with—the works of those we haven’t known, it would have made an interesting contribution.
I’m curious about how the women on Tripathi’s list feel about their inclusion in such an exercise, considering its flawed provenance. I myself smell something patronising, though I’m unable to put my finger on it.
To be sure, Tripathi’s is a resourceful compilation. I’ve read the writing of some of the women listed there and they’re all must-reads. But it is disappointing that Tripathi’s list didn’t exist until The Print‘s did, and The Print‘s list wouldn’t have existed if not for the apathy of its editor(s). Even by publishing pieces that call out its own mistakes, The Print hasn’t exonerated itself. It is still only engaging in a profoundly useless exercise: the cycle it has initiated and is participating in is of its own making, a bad case of a journalism platform fabricating the news instead of reporting it.