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Indology can help counter terrorism impulses, says President

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New Delhi: A three-day World Indology Conference was inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where he stated that terrorism impulses and mankind’s potential for hatred could be battled by Indology.

Indology falls into the subdivision of Asian Studies, and is the academic study of the language, literature, history and cultures, of the countries constituting the Indian subcontinent — India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal Pakistan, Bangladesh, and eastern Afghanistan.

“We are, today, witnessing events without precedent: when the world is struggling to deal with the worst impulses of intolerance and hatred that mankind has ever witnessed,” said the President. “At such a time, there can be no better recourse than to remind ourselves of the high values, written and unwritten sanskaras, duties and the way of life that is the essence of India,” he added.

The President said that the study of Indology had for many years “contributed to the understanding, propagation and promotion of the Indian knowledge system in countries far and wide.” He also remarked that any question that a human mind could come up with had a solution in Indology, and this is what contributed to its wide scope.

The first ‘Distinguished Indologist’ award was given by the President to Federal Republic of Germany Professor Emeritus Heinrich Freiherr Von Stietencron.

“Prof. Stietencron’s work has added quality and substance to Indological studies and will go a long way in encouraging future efforts in this direction. Indology is the pursuit of a major component of human knowledge; it is the understanding of the evolution of human civilization and a science for the diagnosis and mitigation of the complexities of human life,” said President Mukherjee.

“Ancient Indians had left no stream of human consciousness unexplored – whether it was deeply delving into religion and philosophy or cracking the medicinal secrets of food. They studied, in fascinating detail, and wrote very succinctly, incredibly profound treatises on medical science, state craft, law, social science, metallurgy, language, grammar and aesthetics,” he added.

Watch the entire video of the inauguration here.

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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)