Social Media Aggression

Toxic Environs (No, It Is Not About Pollution)

Rishi Sunak, a foreign-born prime minister of another country, has been ‘appropriated’ by Indians because of his family’s undeniable roots. He has their attention though not necessarily affection as, arguably, he has given them a sense of ‘achievement’. That it is Britain with which India has had bitter-sweet relations helps, also thumbing the nose at Winston Churchill who had foreseen a grim future for India and Indians. The problematic part is if Sunak does not ‘favour’ India, he will become Brutus.

However, something Churchill did not say sticks. Sunak is hailed as the “first Hindu”, although some from the diaspora in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean region preceded him. He is welcome as a “Saraswat Brahmin” by those who grudgingly overlook his holding platefuls of beef produced by his electors, in the same hands that worship Hindu deities.

These are but a few contradictions Indians live with. They resent being reminded that they rejected an Italian-born widow to be an Indian prime minister in spite of being the president of a party that had elected British-born presidents before.

The Sunak euphoria seems many times more than that experienced two years ago and has since vanished, about United States vice president Kamala Harris. Any suggestion that this could be because Kamala is also African and a Black is bound to be rebuffed.

Harris prides herself on her connection to her Indian mother, personally and culturally, but not politically. She represents the US, after all, just as Nicki Haley did as a Donald Trump administration officer. Haley did not mince words in telling India what the Americans expected. So, beware, Sunak.

Indians are getting smarter. Their adulation is not absolute. A Preeti Patel or a Suella Bowerman, despite their Indian connections, has not won their approval because they oppose Indian ‘over-stayers’ in Britain.

All this is neither about diaspora nor about differing affections of Indians who appropriate or abhor them. It is about how conflicting sentiments have played, and are playing in public discourse where aggression and intolerance have come to rule. Sunak’s election and the day earlier, the cricket match that India won over Pakistan, are only the latest occasions.

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The two events that added spark to the Diwali celebrations last month generated a parody – yes, a parody — of how they were supposedly viewed by some known critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party.

It would take a genius, even of the argumentative Indian to connect the two events to the usual suspects: writer-activist Arundhati Roy, TV anchors Nidhi Razdan, Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, Ravish Kumar et al; Congressman Shashi Tharoor, Rahul Gandhi’s advisor Sam Pitroda, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Modi-baiter journalist Rana Ayub. The common thread linking them and many more, with quotations attributed to them, was that these ‘anti-nationals’ had ignored, tweaked, condemned or belittled the two historic ‘achievements’.

Views, even on imaginary things and events are fine. I may be wasting your time and mine on this parody. But many actually believed the alleged statements to be true and aggressively condemned them. I was a target of many ‘friends’, some long-time acquaintances, who insisted that I also condemn them. My plea that they were merely a figment of some professional troll’s fertile imagination made them turn their guns at me.

Not a new trend, this has been around for some years. Many on social media have become aggressive, howsoever docile they may be in their real lives, practising and preaching non-violence.

The war of “Forwards” in the media often takes Mahabharata-like proportions with the Pandava-Kaurava binary. The battle lines (minus Krishna, though) are neatly drawn.

They go well beyond political issues. Even ‘magic’ cures and preventions during the Covid-19 pandemic (although some may be genuine) were bandied about as medical Gospel that you dare not question. A convenient three-word caution, “sent as received” means none takes responsibility. The level of conformity with the unknown, untested and unverified is complete.

Forget the less privileged, it is worrying when even the educated middle-class exercises no discretion and turns blind believers. That they seek to impose their beliefs on others makes it worse. The irony is that those aggressively propagating their viewpoint, even ‘forwards’, want everyone else to stay objective and neutral.

One hears of families being divided on issues that do not necessarily affect them in their daily lives. It jeopardizes harmony and relationships. The time when people disagreed and moved on is over in this era of ‘un-friending’ and ‘blocking’.  

Going beyond being argumentative, we have become my-views-or-none. We have stopped rationalizing. We have stopped being accommodative. And this could come with abuse – damn the civility that supposedly comes with education.

Numerous reports indicate how word spread through social media apps has led to sectarian and political violence. Since it is an individual act of participating in collective information/ misinformation, generated without physical participation, the authority is helpless and is often late in responding.

The Supreme Court recently condemned hate speech. Possibly, it was using an all-inclusive but neutral term to cover all forms of hatred. It could not be unaware of this daily occurrence that heightens during elections – and India is in election mode all the time.

Save a few newspaper editorials, did anyone in the government(s), or in any political party, endorse the court’s observations and warn their employees and cadres? It was mainly the political class. Now even some bureaucrats have also begun to get controversial. Just how many ministers, MPs, MLAs and other elected representatives have been brought to book for hate speech?

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wants photos of Lakshmi to be printed on one side of the currency notes, the other side retaining that of Mahatma Gandhi. He may be wanting to ‘trap’ the Modi Government and outperform the Hindutva political plank. But he must be naïve not to know that many people, particularly young whose peers have themselves gone hateful and wayward, want Gandhi to be removed altogether. Basics are being questioned. That points to the level of hatred.

Is it any surprise that this aggression, individual or collective, fed on social media, but also by mainstream media through TRP-driven television channels and websites, has numbed the public mind into accepting the most unjust when it is staring in their faces?

People who thronged the streets ten years ago to protest the rape of Nirbhaya have not thought it fit to protest the release of 11 persons tried and convicted for raping a woman and then killing her family members. A provision in law has been conveniently invoked by the Gujarat Government and endorsed – and since defended before the Supreme Court by the Union government. They were freed for “good behaviour”, garlanded at the jail gate and were feted in public.

Symbolic of the toxicity prevailing in our body politic, this carries an inherent warning. The release of the 11 came on August 15, the much-celebrated country’s 75th Independence Day. Does one need to say more?

The writer can be reached at

Kanye Fans Make Crowd-Funding Page To Make Him Billionaire Again

After big companies like Adidas, Balenciaga and Gap cut ties with Kanye West, Page Six quoted a Forbes report stating that he had lost his billionaire status.

However, in what could be termed an astonishing twist, his fans have taken a pledge to make him a billionaire again!
Kanye’s fans have made a crowd-fund page online to make him a billionaire again. They are trying to raise a total of 1 billion dollars. So far, no donation has been made.

After Adidas cut ties with Kanye and his Yeezy collection, Kanye West lost his billionaire status. Adidas issued a statement last week in response to West’s anti-Semitic remarks, saying, “Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech.”

“Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness,” the company added.

Page Six quoted a Forbes report according to which West’s worth is USD 400 million now after the Adidas partnership was terminated. The Yeezy deal accounted for USD 1.5 billion of his net worth.

This development came just days after Balenciaga cut ties with the rapper. Post that, while speaking to TMZ Kanye said, “I ain’t losing no money… The day I was taken off the Balenciaga site was one of the most freeing days.”

He said that people are merely cutting ties with him to “mute him. He mentioned that people are doing so to simply “score points,” according to Page Six.

He further added that it’s not easy to cancel him – “We here, baby, we ain’t going nowhere.”

He defended his anti-Semitic commend and told TMZ, “I want to talk about the Jewish comment, it’s actually proven the exact point that I made.”

Kanye West recently hired Johnny Depp’s lawyer Camille Vasquez to handle his business matters, however, Camille refused to work with him because he did not retract his anti-Semitic statement. (ANI)

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SC Asks Govts To Act Against Hate Speeches Or Face Contempt

The Supreme Court on Friday, while expressing concern over the hate speeches in the country, observed “where have we reached in the name of religion” and ordered suo moto action against offenders without looking into religion.

A bench of Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy said that hate speeches are “disturbing”, especially for a country that is democratic and religion-neutral.

“Where have we reached? What have we reduced religion to? It is tragic. And we speak of scientific temper,” observed the bench.

The bench also issued notices to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Police and asked them to file a report on what action has been taken against such offences within their jurisdiction.

It further ordered that State governments and police authorities should take suo motu action in cases of hate speeches without waiting for the registration of a formal complaint. The apex court said authorities to take action against offenders without looking at their religion of them.

Failure in taking action would attract contempt of court against the erring officials, it added.

It expressed shock at some of the statements and hates speeches made against minority communities during recent religious congregations.

The top court in its order said, “The Respondents (Delhi, UP and Uttarakhand police) will issue directions to their subordinates in this regard without looking at the religion of the accused so that the secular nature of India is preserved.”

The apex court was hearing a plea seeking its urgent intervention to stop the alleged growing menace of targeting and terrorising the Muslim Community in India.

The petition filed by petitioner Shaheen Abdullah, a journalist working with the Maktoob media, sought direction to the Centre and the State governments to initiate an independent, credible and impartial investigation into the incidents of hate crimes and hate speeches.

It further sought directions to initiate appropriate action under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and other relevant penal laws against the speakers and organisations engaging in such hate crimes.

The plea said news and media platforms that conduct programmes openly demonise the Muslim community.

“Public speeches openly call for genocide of Muslims or speeches calling for economic and social boycott of Muslims. Open participation by members of the ruling political party in delivering hate speeches targeting Muslims,” it added.

“Despite the fact that this Court has been cognisant of the genocidal speeches and hate crimes against Muslims made at several events and several orders have been passed by this Court directing the authorities concerned to take appropriate action, the circumstances of the country only seem to be worsening with the growing radicalisation of the Hindu community and the propagation of widespread hate against Muslims that also culminates into the physical abuse of Muslims by radical elements,” the plea stated. (ANI)

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SC Anil Deshmukh's Bail

Hate Speech: SC Asks Why Govt Is A Mute Spectator

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked why the government was remaining a mute spectator to hate speech and also pulled up mainstream TV news channels for holding debates that often give space for hate speech.

A bench of Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy said the role of anchor in the TV channel debate is “very important” and “critical” and observed that it’s their duty to ensure that guests invited to the show don’t indulge in hate speech.

The bench also said that TV channels which often give space to hate speech escape without any sanctions.

“Role of the anchor is very important. These speeches are on mainstream media or social media that is unregulated. Mainstream TV channels still hold sway. The role of the anchor is critical. The moment you see somebody going into hate speech, it is the duty of anchor to immediately see that he doesn’t allow that person,” said Justice Joseph.

The apex court was hearing a batch of pleas seeking direction for steps against hate speech incidents.

The bench further said that hate speech benefits politicians the most and TV news channels give platforms for hate speech.

Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde appearing for one of the petitioners in the case also agreed with the bench and said, “Channels and politicians feed on such speech. Channels get money. They keep ten people in debates.”

“You should be communicating what others are saying not what you want to say. Pillars of democracy are supposed to be independent and not take orders from anyone,” the bench said.

The bench said, “If sanctions are effected this will go… Any anchor will have his own views, but what is wrong is when you have people of different views and you are not allowing them to express those views… in doing that you are bringing hate and your TRP is going up.”

The bench further observed that freedom of the press is important and ours is not as free as the US but we should know where to draw a line.

Citing an instance, Justice Joseph said that one news channel was fined heavily in the United Kingdom.

“We don’t have that here. They (news channels) are not being dealt with firmly. They can be taken off air, fined, if such sanction comes….” Justice Joseph opined.

Hegde told the bench that on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden said that we cannot give hate oxygen.

To this, Justice Joseph responded, “Not one bit. We cannot give hate any air.”

The top court further added that nowadays nobody reads because of the paucity of time, but visual media has a power that has been recognised by this court in censorship cases.

During the hearing, the bench asked why the Central government was remaining a “mute spectator” on the hate speech issue.

“What’s the problem? Why government of India not taking a stand? Why is the government remaining a mute spectator?” asked the bench from Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj.

Government should not take an adversarial stand on this but assist the court, Justice Joseph said.

Nataraj, representing the Centre, told the bench that 14 states have filed their responses. The apex court asked the Centre to also file a response collating the State government’s inputs.

In July this year, the top court had directed the Centre to prepare a detailed chart outlining States’ compliance with the general directions issued by it in the judgments relating to curbing hate speech. (ANI)

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Racial Attacks on Indian In West

Coloured People Are Still Considered A White Man’s Burden

Ramsharan Joshi, a journalist, academic and author currently based in Boston (US), says objective use of social media can help discourage racial crimes in the West

Indians have been on the receiving end of hate speech in the US recently. One Indian was viciously abused at a Fremont restaurant, and a group of Indian women in Plano, Texas, went through a similar, terrible experience. It follows a ritualistic pattern faced by Afro-Americans, Blacks, Hispanics and other non-White communities in the US, and also in many parts of the West.

Indeed, it reminds me of my first experience in the Anglo-Saxon world about four decades back. During my maiden encounter with the most highly developed metropolitan city of London in 1983, I, along with Swami Agnivesh, acclaimed liberator of bonded labour, and Swami Indravesh, then a Lok Sabha MP, were passing through a London street. We were suddenly attacked violently – some street kids belonging to the White community attacked us for no reason. They jeered at us with a certain ugly enthusiasm and spat on the three of us. Abuses were showered on us. We had to literally run away from the spot. Seeing us in such a panic, some people of Indian origin rushed and rescued us from further attacks and humiliation. We were told by the locals that this is a routine occurrence.

Returning to the present day’s scenario of September, 2022, a powerful and wealthy aspirant for the apex post of prime ministership of Britain, Rishi Sunak, betrayed his orthodoxy and rigid conservatism in a developed nation like the United Kingdom, by publically worshiping the cow. By performing ‘gau puja’ — what message was he trying to convey to the White people, or the Indians who are now settled in that country, the NRIs? So, where do you draw the line between orthodoxy, modernity racism, and pluralist democracy in the developed and super high-tech world of corporate capitalism? I have been trying to find the answers since July1983, when, as a journalist, I first travelled through Europe and America.

Racial Attacks on Indian In West
Joshi (inset) feels the racial undercurrents are very strong in western nations

Sitting in a town in ‘New England’ (Boston area) right now, an interesting event is knocking at my mind. My first encounter with the world of Americans dates back to September 1985. I had gone there as a member of the media team accompanying the then prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi. Journalists were housed in a hotel managed by the Tata Group. I noticed a young man of mixed coloured origin, just about 25, was distributing leaflets cautiously to the media persons, not very far from the UN Headquarters. The leaflets advocated racial purity, ultra-nationalism, uni-culturalism, etc. After reading the leaflet, when I questioned his antecedents he slipped out of the media center.

During several visits to this part of the world, I noticed and felt the undercurrents of strong racial discrimination prevalent in the society. Of course, there is no official admission of discrimination based on race, colour and blood, but the dormant reality erupted in the form of the brutal assault on a breathless George Floyd and his consequent death at the hands of White policeman. Certainly, racism seems to have intensified post-Donald Trump in America, despite Barack Obama being elected twice. Despite the massive Black Lives Matter movement.

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My experiences in Canada are no different from that of America. Although, discrimination is not pronounced in Canada, which, too, is largely a multi-cultural and plural society, but a genuine reconciliation between the ‘First Nation’ (natives) and the White immigrants (or, outsiders), is yet to be realised by the whole of Canadian society.

The unearthing of the graves of hundreds of aboriginal children who were forcefully snatched away in the name of ‘civilizing’ them in various residential schools in Canada from their innocent and helpless parents, by the aggressive and dominant white community, has further reopened the deep wounds the community of the ‘First Nation’ has been suffering for centuries. Natives in Canada, at their annual assemblies held in different parts of the country, unfold the list of failed promises made by the Canadian State to their community. It is a testimony to the simmering scars which refuse to heal.

Coming back to the recent cases of racist attacks on Indians in the US, the victims recorded the event on camera, posted it on social media, and got the culprits arrested. As a journalist, I feel that social media, if handled with sensitivity and objectivity, properly and positively, can play a remarkable role in creating a more humane and just environment. However, in itself it is not enough.

Coloured people are still considered a ‘White man’s burden’. It is the responsibility of an aggressive political economy, that today’s nation-states have been following since the advent of globalization in the 1990s, to eliminate the vicious terrain of racism and other forms of anti-human extremities and discriminations. We shall have to zero in on the political classes that boast of providing people friendly governance in a secular and pluralist democracy, but, actually, fail to implement it on the ground.

As told to Amit Sengupta

‘Indian Muslims Must Remain Patient, Seek Guidance From Quran’

Maulana Qamar Sultan Rizvi Jarchavi, a 52-year-old Shia cleric from Ghaziabad (UP), offers counsel in these difficult times for the Muslims in India

Muslims in India are going through one of the most challenging times in the history of the country. They have been at the centre of a series controversies such as CAA, hijab, halal, loudspeakers, hate speeches and many more. They are being insulted, disparaged, belittled and have been pushed into a corner. They have come to a point when they feel they can’t take it any longer.

While Muslims are at the receiving end, the majority community needs to spare a few moments and think about the deteriorating, hateful situation that the country has fallen into. They need to do some soul-searching to see whether this hatred is part of Indian tradition or is it something new, premeditated occurrence.

There is another angle to view the whole problem. It’s in the innate nature of human beings when we attain absolute power, we also acquire the fear of losing it. This whole circumstance gives the birth of an idea of setting up a permanent authority, which we also call establishment.

It is commonly observed that to consolidate more power, establishments often look for foes. If they don’t find them, they create such enemies. This whole situation can be likened to an example of a raging bull. He needs opponents to prove its strength. If he doesn’t find one, it rams into poles and pillars to use his energy. So, it’s in the training and nature of the establishment to perform like this. Sometimes, this yields positive results like justice and other times, causes atrocities.

Jarchavi wants a unanimous leadership to emerge among Indian Muslims

We have seen how Muslim rulers oppressed their own Muslim subjects. In the Islamic history, we have an infamous incident of Karbala when Yazid martyred the family members of Prophet Muhammad. In the current times, we have witnessed Muslim rulers like Saddam Hussein and many others who crushed their own people. It shows that the power doesn’t care about right and wrong. It aims to remain unchallenged and wants everyone bow to its might.

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Thus, when Muslims are suppressed under the might and power of the establishment, they should turn towards Allah. They need to supplicate in front of him. Muslims have forgotten the power of supplications. We must not forget how help came from Allah in the battle of Badr. Though Muslims were a few hundred in numbers and their enemies were thrice as big yet they won the battle.

Muslims must remember the famous story of the Year of the Elephant. When Abraha al-Ashram led a military expedition to destroy the Kaaba, Prophet Muhammad’s grandfather Abd al-Muttalib, who was the caretaker of the Kaaba, realized he can’t fight the forces of Abraha, so he supplicated. The Quran (Chapter 105) has drawn this incident that how Allah answered his du’a and Abraha and his army were destroyed.

Indian Muslims need to have this much trust in Allah when they raise their hands for du’a.

Besides, we need to end the discord within. We are too involved in settling the issue of minor Islamic jurisprudence that we have forgot to follow the main message of Quran. “And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not quarrel with one another lest you should lose courage and your power depart. Be patient, surely Allah is with those who remain patient.” (Quran, 8:46)

Muslims also need to choose a unanimous leader who will lead the community in the country. In the absence of a true leadership, we have come to the point when we can’t address either our Islamic issues or worldly issues.

As told to Md Tausif Alam

Hate Machine Is Legit, Centre Mute

Finally, everything comes back to hate and bigotry. Yogi Adityanath’s first declaration after the model code of conduct was imposed proves that – 80 per cent versus 20 percent. And the Election Commission and most opposition parties choose to remain silent.

Hate has become legit in contemporary India, as is the epidemic of mob lynchings across the tormented Hindi heartland. The bile of poison flows like a relentless dirty gutter in the dingy and cloistered inner lanes of the political subconscious of the ghettoized Neo-Nazi hate machine.

Xenophobia and the politics of hate have been overtly and tacitly legitimized by the dominant power narrative in India. No wonder even high-tech and educated youngsters have become ‘Trads’ – hate-mongering, online warriors who seem to be even Far Right of the Establishment Right Wing.

So much so, there is the danger that this viciously spreading apparatus would one day lose total control and eat up its own inheritors and mentors in the final countdown. Something the RSS and BJP, like the fascists in Germany, refuse to realise – that it is a mad monster they are riding which can one day ravage them also, and with them, the largest democracy in the world.

Eminent Social scientist Arjun Appadorai, who teaches in Berlin and Paris, wrote recently, and aptly so, “The silence of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah about these unprecedented calls for full-scale armed war against Muslims can be read in one of two ways: as signs of their sense of impunity and confidence, or as signs of their sense of precarity and insecurity. I make a case here for the latter argument… My argument is not the familiar instrumentalist argument about the Uttar Pradesh elections and the BJP’s concern about being humiliated in its sacred heartland. I believe we are witnessing what I call ‘Genocidalism’, which stems from a deeper logic which afflicts all ‘xenophobic nationalisms’. This logic is connected to ‘the relationship between nationalism and violence,’ and to what Marx and many Marxists identify as ‘the Treadmill Effect’.”

Taking the case of the youngsters caught in various small towns across India, auctioning Muslim journalists, professionals and educated women, mothers, daughters and sisters, ‘The Quint’ took the opinion of an expert who has done considerable research on this method in the madness. Indeed, this is not mindless, it follows a belief and value system, like that of the Ku Klux Klan, and it is relentless, often invisible and scattered, but based on the spontaneous mob lynching pattern and psychology, and gets support from the dominant narrative of hate prevalent in current times. Trads, or Traditionalists, are ardent followers of the extreme Right cultural and social ethos, deriving inspiration from the Neo-Nazis and similar movements and individuals. Perhaps they secretly hold the mad mass murderer in Norway, Anders Behring Breivik, as their role model.

Breivik killed 8 persons first by detonating a van bomb at Regeringskvartalet in Oslo, than murdered in cold blood 60 participants of a summer camp organized by the Workers’ Youth League, on July 22, 2011. In his Nazi-type manifesto, he wrote, among other fanatic ramblings, The (then) UPA government “relies on appeasing Muslims, and very sadly, proselytizing Christian missionaries who illegally convert low caste Hindus with lies and fear, along Communists who want total destruction of the Hindu faith”. Surely, most of the current Hindutva fanatics in India share Brievick’s worldview.

Surely, they are like a cult: sexist, racist, homophobic and xenophobic, verging on terrorism. They play with online genocidal ‘humour’, and one-dimensional hate unleashed against Muslims, Dalits, Sikhs, and other minorities. They believe in the ‘Manusmriti’, and that this retrograde anti-women, patriarchal, feudal, upper caste text, should replace the Constitution of India. They care two hoots for the values of the freedom movement or the sacrifices and martyrdoms of our freedom fighters and revolutionaries. According to the expert, they are so extreme sometimes that they even hate the BJP-RSS and its hydra-headed octopus like Sangh Parivar for soft-peddling on hyperbolic Hindutva. Apparently, as ‘The Quint’ reports, “they even dislike Modi and consider him to be unfit to be the PM. They mock his caste and his supposed inability to deal with the minorities with an iron hand…”

“The Trads only love those who can hate unapologetically. They even hate those BJP followers who take refuge in hateful dog whistles. Trads consider them to be hypocritical. Here, hate is ‘humour’ and it includes incitement to mass rapes and genocide. Those who don’t laugh have a problem according to the Indian chanosphere (alt-right universe)…”

Fortunately, the Trads and the mainstream-fringe groups still face large-scale and effective opposition on the ground from a huge majority of mainstream India, across religion and communities, from celebrities, students and intelligentsia, civil society, sportspersons and Olympians, to ordinary folks on the streets. Indeed, thankfully, the Supreme Court too has finally accepted to look into the matter on the call of genocide against the entire Muslim population in India by miscellaneous extremists masquerading as sadhus etc.

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That Modi and his entire cabinet have chosen to remain mum, is predictable. Even the women in his cabinet seemed undisturbed by the perverse and degrading ‘multiple auctions’ of Indian women in the Bulli Bai and Sulli deals. The UP deputy chief minister became brazenly belligerent when a BBC journalist asked him politely about the call for genocide. Why this fear to condemn what is so blatantly wrong and unethical, and goes against all the principles of social conduct, if not a clear case of violation of the law of the land?

To cling on to this fanatic hate machine, and to play this polarizing card, seems to be the ‘final solution’ of this discredited regime, with failure written sharp and clear on its face, on all the human development index, its economy and foreign policy in an abyss, and all its promises of ‘acche din’ having disappeared without a trace.

The petitioners said that they were constrained to approach the top court seeking its urgent intervention regarding the hate speeches between December 17 and 19, 2021 in the two events organized in Haridwar (by Yati Narsinghanand), and in Delhi (by the ‘Hindu Yuva Vahini’). It said, “the aforementioned hate speeches consisted of open calls for genocide of Muslims in order to achieve ethnic cleansing. It is pertinent to note that the said speeches are not mere hate speeches but amount to an open call for murder of an entire community. The said speeches, thus, pose a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of our country, but also endanger the lives of millions of Muslim citizens.”

The petition said, “…it is also relevant to note that no action whatsoever has been taken by the Delhi Police in relation with the event held in Delhi despite the fact that open calls for genocide, that are available on the internet, were made therein.” It also said that that the “recent speeches are a part of a series of similar speeches that we have come across in the past…”

Indeed, despite the bile and the poison, hope floats. Not only the secular society, but a large number of educated people have protested. Faculty members and students from the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) in Ahmedabad and Bengaluru have written a letter to Modi asserting that his silence “emboldens” voices of hate. The letter has 183 signatories – including 13 faculty members of IIM Bangalore and three of IIM Ahmedabad.

“Your silence on the rising intolerance in our country, Honourable Prime Minister, is disheartening to all of us who value the multicultural fabric of our country. Your silence, Honourable Prime Minister, emboldens the hate-filled voices and threatens the unity and integrity of our country,” says the letter.

 “For far too long, the mainstream discourse has dismissed the voices of hate as the fringe. That’s how we are here,” a faculty member at IIM Ahmedbad told the ‘Indian Express’.

However, the point is, is the Honourable Prime Minister listening at all? By all indications, he is not. He never did.

Two Indias: With Hate, With Hope

There is a continuous, vicious and vile synchronization, jarring as a crass orchestra, which seems to be the perennial background score of the C-Grade horror movie unleashed in India since the summer of 2014. It seems breathless, relentless, and endless. Almost like a bad dream in bad faith. And, unlike the most terrible nightmares in half-sleep, this ‘phenomena’ simply refuses to die.

And, yet, hope floats, like both counter-culture and parallel cinema, with its own uplifting, classically pulsating and melodious music as backdrop. Like a mountain stream across the zigzag of the moist and lovely sun-soaked Himalayan foothills, with its butterflies and grasshoppers floating like freedom’s own, special species. Like two Indias.

For instance, the hate mongers are afraid that Vir Das has created an upsurge of hope and rationality. There might be two Indias and there might be a million Indias, though without a million mutinies, as VS Naipaul said once upon a time. However, if he has struck a chord with millions across the globe, it is again evidence that come what may, despite the daily onslaught, a huge population has refused to succumb to fanaticism and ugliness. They still are celebrating unity in diversity, the deep beauty of secular humanity and the inner greatness of stoic resistance. As Vir Das says, “Please do not be fooled by edited snippets. People cheer for India with hope, not hate. People clap for India with respect, not malice.”

The detention in Tripura and Assam of two young women journalists is not the first instance which reflects that Indian democracy and its freedom of Press has been under severe strain in contemporary India, even while the loyalist media runs amok, and both objectivity and media ethics can be damned. In the everyday history of this vast geography, the vicious synchronization of injustice and hate politics has become so ritualistic and commonplace that, sometimes, all seems lost.

And, yet, surely, all is not lost. There is almost always a great current which flows simultaneously, across the polluted landscape, and brings with it a breath of fresh air. It restores our faith in the secular pluralism of a shared existential reality, as much as in the abiding faith that India might be an unequal, unjust and fragmented democracy, but, nevertheless, it is still a democracy, with a noble Indian Constitution derived from the great values of the freedom movement and revolutionary struggle against colonial slavery, and its martyrdoms, prisons, sacrifices, ideals, visions and dreams. Clearly, those who did not participate in the freedom struggle, and those who were glorifying Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust during that historic epoch, remain clueless.

The arrest and harassment of the women journalists was widely covered in the Indian media, and so was the bail. The reports told their own truth with non-partisan objectivity. Significantly, the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC), while demanding their immediate release, issued a categorical statement. “The Indian Women’s Press Corps stands in solidarity with Samriddhi K. Sakunia and Swarna Jha, the two women journalists who have been harassed, intimidated and detained for doing their job. The IWPC demands that the police immediately releases them and allows them to do their job without fear.”

The small border state of Tripura, which showed reasonable progress, peace and harmony under a long spell under the Left led by former chief minister Manik Sarkar of the CPM, with his reputation of impeccable integrity, seems to be torn asunder under the current BJP regime. Not only has economic distress and failed promises stalked this beautiful state in recent times, delicately poised as it is at the border with multiple conflict zones, but communal violence and divisive politics has now ravaged its social fabric. Hence, the significant response from The Editors Guild of India, is, yet again, a sign of dogged hope.

“The Editors Guild of India is deeply shocked by the Tripura Police’s action of booking 102 people, including journalists, under the coercive Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, for reporting and writing on the recent communal violence in the state…The Guild is of the opinion that this is an attempt by the state government to deflect attention away from its own failure to control majoritarian violence, as well as to take action against the perpetrators. Governments cannot use stringent laws like UAPA to suppress reporting on such incidents.”

ALSO READ: Pegasus And Beyond – Press Freedom At Stake

Ace fast bowler Mohammad Shami was trolled because he was a Muslim. Only those who are fanatically bereft of rationality or sporting spirit can equate a cricket match with hate politics and war. Virat Kohli proved them wrong, both as a captain and as a thinking, secular human being. First, he was hanging out with the Pakistani openers who played so well to defeat India by 10 wickets, apparently congratulating them. And, second, he was forthright during a press conference soon after in Dubai.

He said: “To me attacking someone over their religion is the most, I would say, pathetic thing that a human being can do. Everyone has the right to voice their opinion and what they feel about certain situations, but I personally have never ever even thought of discriminating against anyone over their religion. That is a very sacred and personal thing to every human being and that should be left there…We stand by him fully. We are backing him 200%, and all those who have attacked him can come with more force if they want to: our brotherhood, our friendship within the team, nothing can be shaken. I can guarantee you that as the captain of the team, we have built a culture where these things will not even infiltrate into this environment 0.0001%. That is an absolute guarantee from my side…There’s a good reason why we are playing on the field and not some bunch of spineless people on social media that have no courage to actually speak to any individual in person. They hide behind their identities and go after people through social media, making fun of people and that has become a source of entertainment in today’s world, which is so unfortunate and sad to see because this is literally the lowest level of human potential that one can operate at, and that’s how I look at these people.”

Even Sachin Tendulkar spoke out: “When we support #TeamIndia, we support every person who represents Team India. @MdShami11 is a committed, world-class bowler. He had an off day like any other sportsperson can have. I stand behind Shami & Team India.”  

However, Rahul Gandhi, told the bitter truth: “Mohammad #Shami we are all with you. These people are filled with hate because nobody gives them any love. Forgive them.”

And what happened after Olympic gold medalist Neeraj Chopra made a remark on Pakistani javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem? Predictably, huge hate outrage against the Pakistani.  And how did Neeraj Chopra react to that?

In a video posted on Twitter, he said: “I would request everyone to please not use me and my comments as a medium to further your vested interests and propaganda. Sports teaches us to be together and united. I’m extremely disappointed to see some of the reactions from the public on my recent comments.”

So they went after Aryan Khan and his father. The fake news and propaganda media, possessed and obsessed, yet again ran amok. So please check out the unprecedented outpouring of an ocean of support for Shahrukh Khan, and not only on social media. Even most of Bollywood biggies came out strongly for him, and publicly, in what is surely a secular film industry, with its great progressive and brilliant inheritance.

That is why, I say, let us not get suffocated by the jarring orchestra of a bad dream in bad faith. Let us follow the pristine mountain spring, and the sublime originality of the beautiful music, which purifies our sad souls, and heals our simmering wounds. This is because, humanism, love and good sense will win, in the final instance; because, butterflies are free. That is why, hope floats, eternally, inside our hearts, and in our chilly, wounded, winter landscape.

SC notice to Adityanath over ‘hate speech’

The Supreme Court has issued a notice to UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath over a hate speech he allegedly gave ahead of the Gorakhpur riots of 2007. He was then the MP of the constituency. Media reports, quoting ANI, said the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud sought to know why the CM should not be prosecuted for the same. The state government has been given four weeks to reply. The summons was in response to a petition challenging the Allahabad High Court order which had upheld the UP government’s refusal to grant sanction to prosecute Adityanath. In May last year, soon after Adityanath took over as CM, the state had refused to grant the mandatory sanction for the prosecution of the chief minister. ]]>