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Baba Ramdev JNU ban: Logic betrayed?

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By Roshni Chakrabarty

The Jawaharlal Nehru University’s invitation to yoga guru Ramdev to address the 22nd edition of the International Congress of Vedanta as the keynote speaker was met with protests from the students, who believed that Ramdev didn’t have the credibility required for a keynote speaker.

“It does not befit the stature of an academic institution like JNU to have persons with such a questionable and shameful background to address an academic gathering,” said Shehla Rashid Shora, the vice president of JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU).

Students from JNU, known for its strong student politics called the move a “silent Right-wing onslaught” and asked for a withdrawal of the invitation, failing which the University officials would have to face protests.

In the Twitter debate that almost immediately flared, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said that the JNU, which was central government funded, should not take “fascist and stupid arguments” into consideration.

JNU’s ‘leftist idelology’ also took a hit from other Twitter users.

https://twitter.com/singh15_j/status/681683849063993344

The students claim that JNU cannot stand beside Baba Ramdev’s regressive ideology and opposed him addressing the lecture on the grounds that he is not an academician or a professor.

“The person in question harbours extreme hatred, bias and prejudice against various minorities — religious, gender and sexual minorities, and also against girl-child,” Shora stated, saying that this invitation would take JNU “several steps back.”

“His views on Indian science are not academically driven, but deeply ideologically grounded in a regressive and hegemonic understanding of what constitutes the ‘Vedic’ way of life. If anything, his views are anti-scientific,” another student said.

Does JNU students’ protest represent Lack of tolerance to debate?

However, according to Hindu tradition and philosophy, one’s merits are not judged by the certificates one holds, but rather by ones in-depth knowledge of the scriptures. In this light, Ramdev may well be asked to be present in the Vedanta conference on account of his knowledge on the subject.

In a statement to the Indian Express in late October this year, Baba Ramdev said the Union government would soon set up a Vaidik Education Board on the lines of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), and claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “in agreement” for the same.

He stressed on the need for a “shiksha kranti” (revolution in education) and an indigenisation of education. He went on to speak of his aim to establish “700 gurukulam and acharyakulam all over the nation.”

“The board will be set up on the lines of the CBSE and Sanskrit will be compulsory from nursery to class 12,” Ramdev said. “We will teach Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana and Mahabharat and the entire Vedic education and Ayurveda. The coursework will be modern but will be indigenised.”

Ramdev’s schools would follow the model established by ‘Acharyakulam,’ a Haridwar school run by him, which was inaugurated in April 2013 by PM Modi.

The prospectus of Acharyakulam claims that children “generally” gain “one percent” enlightenment every year, and adds that “with the help of intellectual efforts we can develop this enlightenment physically, intellectually and spiritually by one to ten percent.”

Acharyakulam routine
source: scroll.in

While advocating the intake of “sattvik” vegetarian food, and a dress sense “based on Bharatiya parampara,” the school’s rule-book also states that all general utility items should be sourced from Indian manufacturers.

“We make a blend of eastern and western schools of thought,” said a school official.

“The students learn modernity through science, English, and grammar but they also need to know about the glorious past and our ideals which are missing in Bharat’s leaders today.”

This clearly establishes Ramdev’s bent of mind regarding Vedic values and a “swadeshi” education system, a discourse of which would only add to the Vedanta conference at JNU. The ‘ban’ being advocated ironically shows the intolerance amongst the masses and also finds ample number of supporters in the ensuing Twitter debate.

(image source: merinews.com)

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Curb Racism And Semitic Intolerance In The U.S: UN Human Rights Expert

She also urged governments to work with the private sector — specifically technology companies — to fight such prejudices in the digital space.

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Pittsburgh, Hate, shooting
Monks pay their respects at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday's shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Penn. VOA

Following the shooting deaths of 11 worshippers at a synagogue in the eastern United States, a U.N. human rights expert urged governments on Monday to do more to curb racist and anti-Semitic intolerance, especially online.

“That event should be a catalyst for urgent action against hate crimes, but also a reminder to fight harder against the current climate of intolerance that has made racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes and beliefs more acceptable,” U.N. Special Rapporteur Tendayi Achiume said of Saturday’s attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Achiume, whose mandate is the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, noted in her annual report that “Jews remain especially vulnerable to anti-Semitic attacks online.”

racist
A mother and her child arrive to place flowers at a spontaneous memorial of flowers and sidewalk writing a block from the Tree of Life Synagogue. VOA

She said that Nazi and neo-Nazi groups exploit the internet to spread and incite hate because it is “largely unregulated, decentralized, cheap” and anonymous.

Achiume, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law, said neo-Nazi groups are increasingly relying on the internet and social media platforms to recruit new members.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are among their favorites.

Tree of Life Synagogue, racist
A person pauses in front of Stars of David with the names of those killed in a deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, in Pittsburgh. VOA

On Facebook, for example, hate groups connect with sympathetic supporters and use the platform to recruit new members, organize events and raise money for their activities. YouTube, which has over 1.5 billion viewers each month, is another critical communications tool for propaganda videos and even neo-Nazi music videos. On Twitter, according to one 2012 study cited in the special rapporteur’s report, the presence of white nationalist movements on that platform has increased by more than 600 percent.

The special rapporteur noted that while digital technology has become an integral and positive part of most people’s lives, “these developments have also aided the spread of hateful movements.”

She said in the past year, platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have banned individual users who have contributed to hate movements or threatened violence, but ensuring the removal of racist content online remains difficult.

The Tree of Life Synagogue, racist
One man pays his respect in front of a Star of David memorial for one of the 11 victims killed in the Oct. 27, 2018, synagogue shooting. VOA

Some hate groups try to get around raising red flags by using racially coded messaging, which makes it harder for social media platforms to recognize their hate speech and shut down their presence.

Achiume cited as an example the use of a cartoon character “Pepe the Frog,” which was appropriated by members of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups and was widely displayed during a white supremacist rally in the southern U.S. city of Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Also Read: U.N. Reports Global Cocaine, Opium Production At Heights

 

The special rapporteur welcomed actions in several states to counter intolerance online, but cautioned it must not be used as a pretext for censorship and other abuses. She also urged governments to work with the private sector — specifically technology companies — to fight such prejudices in the digital space. (VOA)