Saturday December 16, 2017
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Western media’s fetish with Hindutva

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Original image, without text: http://thumbs.imagekind.com
Facebook screenshot
Facebook screenshot

By Ajeet Bharti

As I scrolled through my newsfeed on Facebook, I saw this ‘trending’ topic on the right pane which talked about Delhi University Student Union (DUSU) elections which was swept by ABVP, the student wing of BJP.

This seems fine. There is no error here. But the error is in the description that Facebook chose to display: “Hindu nationalist group leads in Student Union elections, reports say.” (See screenshot)

Claiming some ‘reports’, it chose to use the word ‘Hindu’ with a tone that almost sounds either communal or as if something is wrong with the identity. However, when I tried to find the supposed ‘reports’ in the trending section, none of them used ‘Hindu nationalist’ phrase in its description. (See the image with ‘reports’ listed below trending topics)

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Click to enlarge

So, where exactly did Facebook find this angle? Nowhere. Because, apart from certain US based ‘media houses’ no one cares about the word unless quoted by some leaders or said in a manner that it is newsworthy.

Prior to the General Elections in 2014, when Indian PM Narendra Modi’s win was almost certain (or, there seemed a wave of support for the BJP leader), the Western media houses like Washington Post, The Economist, Boston Review and many others felt some kind of responsibility of trying to mould public opinion with their negative coverage (in fact, smear campaign) for Modi.

Despite the fact that the courts couldn’t find any evidence of his involvement in the infamous Gujarat riots, the Western media tried every bit to paint him as a killer and an animal of sorts.

However, Modi went in to become the Prime Minister of the nation. Now, there is a concerted attempt by several pseudo-intellectual journalists with sole agenda of relating everything wrong, with any distant hint of the saffron shade, to BJP trying to ‘saffronize’ the nation with its ‘Hindutva’ ‘agenda’.

Let me tell you why have I used these words in single quotes. The words are no more used for their real meaning. It is always used with coloured glasses. It is used to promote something about which the Indian society doesn’t care; which the ruling party doesn’t care about because it has a majority and has better things to do; which is being force-fed to Indian pseudo-intelligentsia by Western pseudo-intelligentsia just for the sake of a debate on it.

Let me quote an example from The Economist, a report which appeared on its website on June 22, under the headline: ‘Why India’s prime minister devotes such energy to yoga’. It said:

“…the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP)’s promotion of yoga, which has its roots in the ancient religious practices that were gathered up into Hinduism, is an expression of Hindutva, an ideology which sees India as an exclusively Hindu nation.”

Now, I don’t know what is the source of wisdom of this reporter because Yoga has nothing to with religion. It would be akin to saying, “Obama is Christianising the world with his gym videos. Gym has its roots in Christian nations and it has an expression of Christianity where the US sees itself as an exclusive Christian nation.”

Did that sound weird? Of course it did. Just because there were no other religions, not even something called as Hinduism, and people gathered knowledge of keeping the body fit through exercises, it neither makes it exclusive to the religion of the day, nor communal in nature as the article tries hard to make us believe.

Next example is from a January 26, 2015 report in The Washington Post which talks about Modi’s fashion choice and what it says about his politics. The title is not wrong. It appears as if it is going to talk about various choices of the PM in his wardrobe and accessories. But, no! It is all about telling you how the ‘gajar ka halwa‘ eaten by Modi has an orange (shade of saffron) colour and how it is so because of his RSS roots. This article starts with, apparently, good words and then silently delves deeper with the Western media’s agenda of colouring everything with Hindutva; here, Hindutva is not about taking pride in one’s religion but somehow associated with being communal.

I never knew being secular meant singing bhajans (religious songs), attending Sunday Mass, serving Langar and donning a scull cap! Neither did I realise, being a Hindu, and believing in the religion, was somehow communal even when one didn’t show any disrespect to any other religion.

Here is what the article writes about Modi’s colour palette:

“Orange has been a long-time favorite, as it is one of the main colors of Hinduism. One color has been noticeably absent from his wardrobe. Last year, the Boston Review of books ran an article which highlighted the lack of dark green, a color commonly associated with Islam.”

As if this was not enough, the article went on to quote some tailor who supposedly said that Modi prefers silent shades of saffron. I wonder what all colours could be associated with the shades of saffron! For example, the colour of Modi’s skin, his poop, his shoes, his tongue…

And this is not because he was born this way, rather that he is from RSS. I won’t be surprised if someday these pseudo-secular and weeping on ‘humanitarian crisis’ journalists charge Modi with not changing the saffron strip off the Tricolour! I mean, how come that doesn’t sound communal to these guys as yet!

So, India’s Prime Minister should wear every colour (and the ‘silent’ to ‘violent’ shades of them) to show solidarity with all the religions. And, since when did the Quran say that dark green was the colour of Islam?

Another article from January 17, 2015 in The Economist, ‘The Hindutva rate of growth’, concludes with following lines:

“Economic reform is the means to a nationalist end; and, for Mr Modi, nationalism is of the Hindu variety.”

Here, The Economist just gives up and becomes blunt with its choice of words. So, I wouldn’t comment on what does the premier organisation mean by ‘Hindu variety’ as I don’t get it. The article has a sense that India should remain a third world nation where half of the population must defecate openly, 80 per cent remain poor, and whatever we dump on her shores, she must accept with gratitude in her eyes.

But that’s not the situation. India is no more in a shambles; it is waking up to stand firm. Modi is doing everything that India should have done a decade ago. Seeking investments, visiting nations to better the India image, formulating policies for better economic opportunities. He is trying to make India look good and become good. The data shows that in a global economic slowdown, India is the only nation showing stability.

After a long while, we have got a leader who has a vision. There are flaws with every single government’s policy on the Earth. That doesn’t mean everything is to be seen with a glass that has saffron tinge whereas the mind believes the world is saffron!

I am not aware why these big media houses are so much concerned about Modi’s choice of dress or sending the Mangalyan so cheaply to Mars when there are issues that their own society grapples with every single day.

Bashing Modi for humanitarian crisis in India wouldn’t solve how an American teen goes about spraying bullets in a park, inside a cinema; or a cop killing a black teen in a hoodie just because he ‘looked’ suspicious. Wouldn’t it be great to question your own justice system where every non-White criminal is a terrorist but the White ones who go on killing spree in schools, colleges, theatres are termed as ‘mentally ill’ and escape punishment?

Just look at the police data about conviction rates of Whites and Blacks in the US, and you will see… But wait, you won’t be able to, as you are busy looking farther in Milky Way, searching for orange areas ‘created’ by  Modi because of his RSS roots!

How about asking some questions as to why a Sikh is bashed up by an American youth after being yelled at with the words “terrorist”, “Osama” and “Go to your own country”?

How about looking at your own past and see where did you drive out the Red Indians? How about asking your government what it is exactly doing for the ISIS crisis? How about trending a hashtag or post on why the US is not doing anything about ISIS? Why is it not asking its allies like UAE and Saudi to take the Syrians in in this time of crisis?

There are many questions other than the fetish about the word Hindutva. While everything might appear to be related to Hinduism because of its ancient roots and the way it survived Islamic and Christian (colonial, the White Men’s Burden) attacks on its culture and social structure, we seriously don’t understand your connection, Washington, Economist and Facebook!

Good for Indians! Not even one tenth of a percent of Indians read these news websites which, in very obvious ways, are racist to the core.

 

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Google gets the better of Facebook as top referral source for publishers

In 2016 Facebook tweaked its algorithm to prioritise posts from friends and family over publishers.

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Google has beaten Facebook to become publishers' main source of external page views over the course of 2017
Google has beaten Facebook to become publishers' main source of external page views over the course of 2017. VOA
  • Google webpage traffic increases considerably
  • Facebook went down by 26% in January as compared to last year
  • Video publishing feature might has add up to the Facebook traffic

San Francisco, Dec 12,2017: Google has beaten Facebook to become publishers’ main source of external page views over the course of 2017, a new data showed.

Google used to be the main source of referral traffic for web publishers. Then Facebook eclipsed it, ReCode reported late on Monday.

According to digital analytics company Parse.ly, Google sent more traffic than Facebook to publishers — Facebook sent 25 per cent less traffic to publishers in 2017, while Google increased its traffic by 17 per cent.

In January, Facebook provided nearly 40 per cent of publishers’ external traffic which is now down to 26 per cent.

Google web traffic
Google AMP feature has helped it to add up to the web traffic

Google, which started the year at 34 per cent, generated 44 per cent of the total traffic.

Parse.ly pointed out a number of factors for this turnaround.

In 2016 Facebook tweaked its algorithm to prioritise posts from friends and family over publishers.

Also, Facebook’s “Instant Articles” feature, where the service hosted some publishers’ content directly but promised to send more readers to the original site as well, has declined in importance, the analytics company found.

Since users can now publish videos directly on Facebook, this might have affected how many links to web stories publishers put on their Facebook pages.

Google’s “accelerated mobile pages” (AMP) feature, which also hosts publishers’ content directly on Google’s servers, became more important over the year.

AMP stories – typically from news publishers – are surfaced at the top of mobile search results as “Top Stories,” which drives clicks. (IANS)

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Facebook Introduces Digital Training and Start-up hubs in India to Promote Digital Economy

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Facebook launched digital training in India
Facebook launched digital training in India.Pixaby.

New Delhi, Nov 23: Facebook on Wednesday introduced its digital training and start-up training hubs in India aimed at helping small businesses and people grow by giving them the digital skills they need to compete in today’s digital economy.

Facebook said it plans to train more than half a million people in the country by 2020 through these online training hubs, which are being rolled out first in India.

The learning curriculum which is personalised to the individual’s needs and available in English and Hindi on mobile, the social network, which is used by 217 million people in India, announced.

“We believe the best way to prepare India for a digital economy is by equipping people with the tools, knowledge, and skills they need to succeed,” said Ritesh Mehta, Head of Programmes, Facebook, India and South Asia.

To develop the learning curriculum, the social network worked with several organisations, including Digital Vidya, Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), DharmaLife and the government’s StartupIndia initiative.

The curriculum includes vital skills for digital skill seekers and tech entrepreneurs, including how to protect their ideas, how to hire, how to go about getting funding, what regulations and legal hurdles they need to consider, how to build an online reputation, and a host of other critical skills.

This could mean teaching a small business owner how to create an online presence; helping a non-profit reach new communities and potential donors; or it could mean helping a tech entrepreneur turn their product idea into a startup through practical business advice.

Facebook said its digital training hub would provide free social and content marketing training for anyone – from students to business owners – who is looking to develop their digital knowledge and skills.

According to new research by Morning Consult in partnership with Facebook, small businesses use of digital translates into new jobs and opportunities for communities across the country.

Since 2011 Facebook has invested more than $1 billion to support small businesses globally.

The “Boost Your Business” and “SheMeansBusiness” initiatives have trained more than 60,000 small businesses, including 12,000 women entrepreneurs, in India, Facebook said. (IANS)

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Facebook, Google, Bing and Twitter Join The Trust Project to Help Users Combat Fake News

In their bid to combat fake news and help readers identify trustworthy news sources, Facebook, Google, Twitter and several media organisations have joined the non-partisan "The Trust Project"

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To Combat Fake News
To Combat Fake News Facebook, Twitter , Google have joined 'The Trust Project'. PIxabay.

San Francisco, Nov 19: In their bid to combat fake news and help readers identify trustworthy news sources, Facebook, Google, Twitter and several media organisations have joined the non-partisan “The Trust Project”.

“The Trust Project” is led by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Centre for Applied Ethics.

Starting from Friday, an icon will appear next to articles in Facebook News Feed.

When you click on the icon, you can read information on the organisations’ ethics and other standards, the journalists’ backgrounds, and how they do their work.

“Leading media companies representing dozens of news sites have begun to display ‘Trust Indicators’. These indicators, created by leaders from more than 75 news organisations also show what type of information people are reading a” news, opinion, analysis or advertising,” the university said in a statement.

Each indicator is signalled in the article and site code, providing the first standardised technical language for platforms to learn more from news sites about the quality and expertise behind journalists’ work.

“Google, Facebook, Bing and Twitter have all agreed to use the indicators and are investigating and piloting ideas about how to best to use them to surface and display quality journalism,” the university said.

German press agency DPA, The Economist, The Globe and Mail, the Independent Journal Review, Mic, Italy’s La Republica and La Stampa, Trinity Mirror and The Washington Post are among the companies starting to go live with “Trust Indicators” this month.

The Institute for Non-profit News has developed a WordPress plug-in to facilitate broader implementation by qualified publishers.

“An increasingly sceptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story. The Trust Indicators put tools into people’s hands, giving them the means to assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on,” Lehrman explained.

The eight core indicators are: Best Practices; Author Expertise; Type of Work; Citations and References; Methods; Locally Sourced; Diverse Voices and Actionable Feedback.

New organisations like the BBC and Hearst Television have collaborated in defining the “Trust Indicator” editorial and technical standards, and in developing the processes for implementing these.

“Quality journalism has never been more important,” said Richard Gingras, vice president of news products at Google.

“We hope to use the Type of Work indicator to improve the accuracy of article labels in Google News, and indicators such as Best Practices and Author Info in our Knowledge Panels.”

“The Trust Indicators will provide a new level of accessibility and insight into the news that people on Facebook see day in and day out,” said Alex Hardiman, Head of News Products at Facebook.

A growing number of news outlets are expected to display the indicators over the next six months, with a second phase of news partners beginning implementation work soon. (IANS)