Tuesday October 23, 2018
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Western media’s fetish with Hindutva

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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)

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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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Facebook Set up a War Room to Fight Election Interference

With the new ad architecture in place, people would be able to see who paid for a particular political ad

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Facebook now has a War Room to fight election interference. Pixabay

In line with its efforts to prevent misuse of its platform during elections, Facebook has set up a War Room to reduce the spread of potentially harmful content.

Facebook faced flak for not doing enough to prevent spread of misinformation by Russia-linked accounts during the 2016 US presidential election. The social networking giant has rolled out several initiatives to fight fake news and bring more transparency and accountability in its advertising since then.

The launch of the first War Room at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, is part of the social network’s new initiatives to fight election interference on its platform.

Although Facebook opened the doors of the War Room ahead of the general elections in Brazil and mid-term elections in the US, it revealed the details only this week.

The goal behind setting up the War Room was to get the right subject-matter experts from across the company in one place so they can address potential problems identified by its technology in real time and respond quickly.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

“The War Room has over two dozen experts from across the company – including from our threat intelligence, data science, software engineering, research, community operations and legal teams,” Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook’s Director of Product Management, Civic Engagement, said in a statement on Thursday.

“These employees represent and are supported by the more than 20,000 people working on safety and security across Facebook,” Chakrabarti added.

Facebook said its dashboards offer real-time monitoring on key elections issues, such as efforts to prevent people from voting, increases in spam, potential foreign interference, or reports of content that violates our policies.

The War Room team also monitors news coverage and election-related activity across other social networks and traditional media in order to identify what type of content may go viral.

These preparations helped a lot during the first round of Brazil’s presidential elections, Facebook claimed.

The social networking giant said its technology detected a false post claiming that Brazil’s Election Day had been moved from October 7 to October 8 due to national protests.

While untrue, that message began to go viral. But the team quickly detected the problem, determined that the post violated Facebook’s policies, and removed it in under an hour.

“And within two hours, we’d removed other versions of the same fake news post,” Chakrabarti said.

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Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

The team in the War Room, Facebook said, also helped quickly remove hate speech posts that were designed to whip up violence against people from northeast Brazil after the first round of election results were called.

“The work we are doing in the War Room builds on almost two years of hard work and significant investments, in both people and technology, to improve security on Facebook, including during elections,” Chakrabarti said.

Earlier this month Facebook said that it was planning to set up a task force comprising “hundreds of people” ahead of the 2019 general elections in India.

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“With the 2019 elections coming, we are pulling together a group of specialists to work together with political parties,” Richard Allan, Facebook’s Vice President for Global Policy Solutions, told the media in New Delhi.

Facebook has also set a goal of bringing a transparency feature for political ads — now available in the US and Brazil — to India by March next year, Allan informed.

With the new ad architecture in place, people would be able to see who paid for a particular political ad. (IANS)