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Welcome To The Silently Resilient Bigotry Of Online India

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By Devang Pathak:

The new Prime Minister of the country was officially declared on the 16th of May this year. But for anyone who had an internet connection, he was the Prime Minister 6 months before the election results. How? Because he was the top trending topic on Twitter. He was a topic of daily discussion, with many voices predicting that he would be the right man for the post, and win decisively. There was the obvious opposition and denial by many including me. But for better or worse, Narendra Modi is now the Prime Minister of India.

I wish Twitter had stopped there. But as anyone who has used this medium knows, the ugly sometimes overpowers the good, and if you start a thorough investigation, you will be shocked at the power that these ‘minorities’ have.

Twitter, Facebook, and dozens of other social mediums took our daily chatter and activities to a digital platform. Naturally, that included the ugly and the bad too. Bullying, heckling, provocation, and harassment have made their transition into our digital lives as well. While we keep such experiences on the fringes in our personal lives, they have started to dominate the digital world, and the behaviour which concerns me the most is bigotry.

A bigot is someone who is so deeply rooted in his/her own beliefs, that he/she is prejudiced towards anyone who does not share the same beliefs or is opposed to them. At some level, we are all bigots, who have to dig ourselves deep into something, and ignore the rest of the world, to function. We find it difficult to accept that two opposing views can be right and wrong at the same time. This conundrum forces a majority of the people to sit at the fences and maintain a status quo. But what does one do about the extremes – those who revel in their beliefs and show blatant intolerance to any idea or person who does not conform with their understanding?

This type of behaviour first came to my notice in the run-up to the elections. There were two kinds of supporters of Narendra Modi – those who sought a legitimate change in the guard of the future of India, and had logical reasons to approve of his governance style and views. The other type of supporters were those who called themselves ‘Hindu Nationalists’, who sought an end to what they deemed was an anti-Hindu, secular Congress rule, and sought the establishment of a Hindu identity. Their appeals were more emotional, provocative and divisive, rather than factual. They seemed to drop certain implied prejudices in their views. After the elections, there was nothing to infer any-more.

Their Trend of #BanMadrasa on 18th August. It was one of the top ten national trends on Twitter.
Their Trend of #BanMadrasa on 18th August. It was one of the top ten national trends on Twitter.

The messages became bold and direct. If you are to simply glance through some of the messages these trends advocate, you might shudder in disbelief. There were many provocative and disheartening images and views expressed, which I could not include in this article. The ideas and messages were started by a few opinion leaders, based on facts whose veracity could never be confirmed.

HDL

At this point, you will construe that I am constantly pointing out a single facet- Hindu Extremism. This is because I did not come across anything which might be construed as extremism by any other ideology in India. Does it exist? I am certain of it. The reason that I have taken this as an example is because their voice is powerful, or at least it gives the illusion that it is. Their trends such as #BanMadrasa, #IsraelUnderAttack quickly became national trending topics. This means that they got the majority of the Twitter users to talk about or share the opinions they wanted.

Their trend of #WeHindus on 18th August,2014.
Their trend of #WeHindus on 18th August,2014.

Ignorance and perversion are being used to generate curiosity among the online users. It gets worse when they try to enforce these beliefs in issues and events which are far more complex, such as the Israel-Gaza conflict.

#IsraelUnderAttack

It gets worse when such views are echoed by educated political leaders.

Property Law in the 16th Century when Modern Democracy was not even born.
Property Law in the 16th Century when Modern Democracy was not even born.

If these individuals were out for rallies, and on television, giving such speeches as some of their tweets advocate, they could be charged with criminal cases under the existing laws of the country.

At this point, someone would shout ‘Freedom Of Speech’ at me, while the other would accuse me of being anti-community. Firstly, freedom of speech is essential. However, one is accountable for one’s opinions and actions, and can be called out and criticized for them. Secondly, I am not siding with any extreme ideology. I am simply asking for equality, irrespective of religion, gender, sexual orientation, identity, nation etc.

You may not have read about this bigotry in the papers or even heard about it from your grapevine, but it exists. Internet is a powerful platform, and no one can be naive enough to think that the voices of the web will not affect our future. These perverted ideas and inflammatory calls to action will soon permeate the mainstream, and may have already reached the gullible and the ignorant. A stone can be snatched, a gun can be stripped, but an idea which is seeded in a human being goes on to define his/her actions and words, and eventually, his/her legacy.

I am a bigot too, but just a little less extreme and accommodating to criticism. I am a bigot for good cinema, good humor, stupidity and views on life. I find it extremely difficult to talk to a person who thinks that the fifth Die Hard movie was good. But I still do talk to them without ever bullying them or vowing vengeance on them. The problem with being a bigot is that you shut your eyes to the world so tightly that you fail to see reason and logic beyond your own perversions. You deem that an idea, a person, group or even a race of people, are guilty of something which they might not have had any role in.

India is not suffering with just religious bigotry, nor is it the only country that does. Identity conflicts have happened for centuries in almost every land of the world, and irrational bigots are present in ample numbers. Why is it so?

My guess is because we humans seek an answer to a simple question – Who Am I? If you take away my name, ancestry, religion, gender, the colour of my skin, the things I love or lust for, the land where I live, the beliefs I was taught, the people around me, all the things I possess and strip me down to the bare naked – Who Am I? To avoid this confusion, we cling on to any of the above listed features. We just forget the answer which is right there in front of us.

You are still a Human Being, and so is everyone else.

You must be to comment.
  1. anoop

    Author did not find any other type of extermism except Hindu fanaticism or find it powerful enough. Tells a lot about you. I rest my case.

    1. Pranath

      This guy is a joke. Why is a Hindu supporting Israel and praying for Yazidis labelled a bigot? I will never know, maybe I am not liberal enough.

    2. A Hindu

      the article tells a lot about who is a bigot, sickular, and so do the history of articles written by the sick minded author who can’t refute any of the pics he posted except for spewing venom against the Hindu religion. He became famous as an anti-Modi campaigner before elections and he still dreams that his anti-Modi rants will sell post elections. I would suggest the author should stay for a couple of days with the Hamas guys and then with the ISIS and then with the Al-Qaueda brothers to present a strong case in favor of them. And I’m sure this guy is again one of those hiding under a Hindu name and yet enjoy defaming Hinduism for the simple reason that this is a tolerant religion and allows to talk freely. Let the author try to bring out cons in other religions, let the author post twitter pics of insane and weird comments from the other prominent religions and let see if he still roams around freely to write the next post.

    3. Turbulator

      He’s just an attention seeker who either doesn’t even know what he’s talking about, or is wilfully blind to facts.

    4. An In-Your-Face Liberal

      “Hinduism… allows to talk freely”?
      All hinduism is is a religion. It does not have the legitimacy/authority to “allow” or “disallow” free speech. That, sir, is the job of our Constitution.
      Which just so happens to be secular.
      Your depraved notion of secularism is an indication of bigotry.
      I say you have a pretty sorry excuse for a religious identity, A Hindu, if it’s cause is furthered by bashing up other religions.

  2. Madhur Goyal

    Author is a #gadhekabachcha… i wanna meet him personally.. I will take him to a madarsa and lock him inside till they are done with him.. then i will ask this #gadhekabachcha to re write this article…

  3. nisha

    Loved the last Paragraph..if every individual understands,then im sure this world will be a much better place to live innisha

  4. Pallab Chowdhury

    #banmadrasa including all other religious “education” institute. Destroy every mosque and temple which have no historical value. Israel is a free state and Palestine was never a free state until the creation of Israel.

  5. Alpha Beta

    The author might be wrong. Hell, he might have written the worst article in the history of short story writing as far as religion in India goes. What is disheartening however, are the comments that are below this article.

    How intolerant a society have we become? Cannot we debate smoothly and with some element of style? The whole beauty and the reason Hinduism has won all these years is because its a much loved, no enforcement religion. Its a spiritual experience where no one is asked to do or be anyone else. Heck, you can change Gods everyday of the week.

    I am an Atheist but still believe if I had to chose, it would be Buddhism or Hinduism. So when someone makes a comment (however, badly this article may be written) – chin up, slow your shins and make worthy debates. The idea that was India has ceased to exist, at least on the internets.

    Mr. Goyal – is that the easiest wit you can reply? Ghadde ka bacha? How old are you? Why would you lock someone inside a Madrassa? Have you been to one ever? I guess not. Not that I have, but your tone is impure and reeks of a mental age group that is 10 years at best.

  6. Aditya Malpani

    Dude are you actually a hater?….There was a very good article written by some writer in YKA about Jihad and what it actually means. Now I see you here criticizing the beliefs of a significant number of people just due to some elements. I am a Hindu Nationalist and it does not mean in anyway that I am against religions. C’mon man grow up. And stop being a hater.

    I supported stand of Israel in Gaza and i was bullied by a significant number of people. I write my fb profile name in Hindi and bullies call me mr gibberish. Do you see such people anytime?

    Please stop being a hater.

  7. Bilal

    Its a really good article to read.I can see bigots commenting on this article and they are trying to deny their bigoted attitude but their comments are all too clear.

  8. Shreya

    Fine if these were examples of religious bigotry according to you. You are entitled to criticize them as well. Now waiting for your next article on religious bigotry in other religions in India. But I’m sure that is not going to happen, for obvious reasons. Hindu bashing seems to be the latest fad among the so called liberal intellectuals.

    1. Nitin

      Exactly! I believe writer should bring the other side of the story as well. Well if devang is supporting and advocating what has done in 16th century, then what he has to say about what happened thousands of years ago before 16th century, the birth and rightful temple of Prabhu Raam.

      I think so called Aaptards and Secular morons are so blind to see the other side of the coin. This includes some Khongressi dawgs too!

  9. Nitin

    WTF sir? A Muslim or a Christian can say proudly that “I am Proud to be a Muslim or Christian”, but if a Hindu says that “he is a Hindu”, the whole world and some sick seculars suddenly got a problem with that? He all of sudden has become a communist, a hate supporter?

    Come on man grow up! This is the religion which gives you the power and allows you to criticize, if you’ve would be a Muslim and have tried to do something like this against Islam, Prophet or Sharia Law, your fingers will be chopped off and your head was being used for playing football at the corner of some street..

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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