Where once it was surreptitious, hate is now being unleashed in India to blatantly demonise, denigrate, discriminate against and dehumanise vulnerable groups. The prime target, in today’s scheme of things, is the country’s Muslim community. But Adivasis, Dalits and Christians are not immune from the venom either. This campaign of hate is clearly intended to bulldoze the democratic, pluralistic fabric of Indian society.
As United Nations observes the first International Day for Countering Hate Speech on June 18, it is worth recalling how the latest controversy relating to the phenomenon started in India – and to try to draw lessons from it.
On May 26, Nupur Sharma, the spokesperson of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party, made disparaging comments about Prophet Mohammed during a TV discussion about the Gyanvapi Mosque dispute in Varanasi. Her remarks were deemed unacceptable not just by Muslims but by large sections of civil society too. As a video clip of her comments went viral on social media platforms, they were condemned not just in India but by several international governments.
It must be noted that Sharma was on the debate not in a personal capacity but as the spokesperson of the ruling party. It must be assumed that her statements were in line…