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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)
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.
Great historic events that have shaped the world and changed the outlines of countries are often not recorded in memory, or so we think. Wars made sure to destroy evidence and heritage, and the ones who survived told the tale of what really happened. Folklore, albeit through oral tradition kept alive many such stories, hidden in verse, limericks, and rhymes.
Ringa-ringa-roses, a common playtime rhyme among children across the world, is an example of folklore that has survived for many centuries. It tells the story of the The Great Plague of London which ravaged the city between 1665-1666.
The Plague broke out from improper disposal of garbage and poor sewage conditions. Fleas from the rats that lived in the sewers spread the disease that killed more than half of London's population. Many people fled from their homes as there was no medicine available for those who were infected.
Beak-shaped masks worn during the Great Plague of London Image source: wikimedia commons
It was around this time that masks began to be invented. The first masks were shaped like beaks, and were worn not to protect the wearer from the disease, but to the prevent them from being able to smell the decay and death around them, which they called 'miasma'. The beaks were filled with floral herbs that allowed doctors and nurses to tend to the sick without being reviled from the smell.
Children are often seen forming circles by holding hands and reciting loudly,
Pockets full of posies
We all fall down"
An illustration of the Great Plague of London, 1665 Image source: wikimedia commons
When the last line is sung, they break the circle and fall down. The roses and posies are believed to be the preferred fragrances inside the masks, and a single sneeze (a-tishoo) was enough to infect the one who was exposed to the disease. Consequently, they fell down, ill, and later died.
An alternative version of this rhyme is sung about the fall of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the aftermath of World War II. The roses and posies are interchanged with geranium and uranium, to symbolise what was used in the atomic bomb. But this version is not as famous the original.
Keywords: Rhymes, Ringa-ringa-roses, Great Plague of London, WWII, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Folklore
In modern times, many social movements aim to bring reform to the society we live in, on the basis of certain existing patterns. Patriarchy is something that many aim to cleanse our cultures of, to usher in the era of social and gender equality. Despite all these so-called movements, in southern India, certain societies that patronise matriarchy have existed since before India's independence. The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country.
Kerala remains separate from the rest of India in many ways. Be it literacy policy, form of government, or cultural practices, this state does not always conform to the ideal that India is known for. Even so with their social structure. Certain tribes have remained matrilineal, where the decision-making power rests with the eldest female of the family.
The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country. Image source: wikimedia commons
A male member, who is the close confidante of the matriarch is chosen. He plays a crucial role in representing the male members of his family, and his opinion is highly valued. He is called karavanan. The men reside in separate rooms or in separate houses, and do not interfere in the upbringing of children. Property is also passed down along the lineage of the eldest female. Among the Nairs, matriarchy is more prominently adhered to than the Ezhavas, who have some patrilocal connections.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Their matrilineal descent is known as Aliyasantana.
The story is told of a demon who threatened to destroy a kingdom if the king did not sacrifice his sons, but the king's sister comes forward to offer her children in sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom. The demon is touched and does not destroy the city. Since then, the kingdom, or the property is inherited through female lineage.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Image source: wikimedia commons
In the recent past, many of these matriarchal societies have been reduced to matrilineal societies by certain governmental laws. They fall under the patriarchal scheme of the rest of the state but have reserved the right to pass on property and heritage through the female line. In the North east of India, matriarchal dominance is far more resilient than the south.
Keywords: Bunts, Billava, Nair, Ezhava, Aliyasantana, Matrilineal, South India, Karnataka, Kerala
Apple inc. Is an American multinational tech firm specialized in consumer electronics, computer programs, and internet services founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in 1976 to manufacture Wozniak's Apple iComputer. It is the world's top tech company in turnover (totaling $274.5 billion in 2020) and its most valuable corporation. Apple is the fourth-largest PC seller by unit sales and the fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. On the day of the live event, Apple announced the iPad mini, Apple Watch Series 7, iPhone 13 mini, and iPhone 13, as well as the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. | Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini.
iPad: The 10.2-inch iPad is equipped with a solid A13 processor that delivers 20 percent quicker performance than the preceding version. According to Apple, it is now three times faster than a Chromebook. A new 12MP ultra-wide camera with Center Stage, which utilizes machine learning to optimize the front-facing camera during FaceTime video chats, as well as more incredible accessory support, including compatibility with the first-generation Apple Pencil, are among the new features. For 64GB of storage, the iPad costs $329.
iPad Mini: In addition to reduced borders and more rounded edges, the 8.3-inch iPad mini also has improved front and back cameras. A liquid retina display, USB-C compatibility, magnetic support for the Apple Pencil, an enhanced speaker system, and new hues such as pink and purple are all features of the new Apple iPad Mini. The starting price is $499.
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini. | Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash
The other major unveiled products include:
iPhone 13 and other variants: The iPhone 13 range is almost identical to the iPhone 12 lineup, with a 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro, and a 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max. It was also revealed that the Watch Series 7 has a smaller "S7" processor, which may allow for a bigger battery or other components to be housed in a smaller footprint. The gadgets have a revolutionary design that includes a dual-camera system, placed diagonally. Apple's iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini have longer-lasting batteries than the previous generation of devices. In addition, Apple claims that the iPhone 13 will have a battery life that is 2.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12, and the iPhone 13 mini will have a battery life that is 1.5 hours longer. A more energy-efficient display, an upgraded 5G chip, and functionality called "Cinematic Mode," similar to the famous Portrait mode function but is only available for movies, are among the other enhancements. The A15 Bionic chip present in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini is also used in the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max, also 6.1-inch devices. However, it also has a five-core CPU, which promises graphics that are 50% quicker than previous models. Other notable features of the Pro devices include a brilliant Super Retna XDR display with a higher refresh rate and long-lasting battery life. Now, for the price, it will start at $699 for the iPhone 13 mini with 128 GB of storage, $799 for the iPhone 13 with 128 GB of storage, and the Pro and Pro Max have starting prices of $999 $1,099, respectively.
Apple Watch Series 7: The new Apple Watch Series 7, which is smaller and has a larger screen than its previous model, was introduced by Apple on Wednesday. There is a 20% increase in screen size over Series 6 on the new watch. A complete keyboard that you can touch or slide to write out text messages can show 50% more text. It starts at $399.
Keywords: Apple, iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone Mini, Apple event 2021