Hate Speech in India: A Threat to Freedom?

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Indians are no strangers to hateful invective being spewed as an expression of animosity between groups: be it for differences of religion, region, caste or simply opinion. However, this venomous trend has risen to a whole new high in recent times. The Nupur Sharma case and its aftermath is simply the latest and most explosive chapter in this hateful narrative that has become an integral part of our country’s DNA.

Of Those Who Exploit Hatred

Sentiments of religious ‘othering’ were common even centuries ago. In fact, the British rulers of India cultivated and exploited this hatred in a big way. This major cornerstone of their administrative policy was summed up in our history books with three simple words: “Divide and Rule”.

Our post-independence politicians have not just taken a page out of the British playbook, but they have taken the game to a whole new level. Stoking passions based on communal, regional or cast-based pride has been a major ploy utilized by almost every political party in India.

So What Has Changed Now?

Simply put, the situation has worsened to an unprecedented degree, with popular media channels becoming a gleeful playground for hatred-mongers who thrive on negative sentiments. One can easily tune into evening ‘news debates’ where venom is spewed on a daily basis, spilling into the ears and minds of viewers across the country.

Social Media, and the information superhighway that it opens up, presents another dimension to this problem. Now, everyone sitting in their own living rooms can broadcast hateful invective to an ever-growing audience, sans filters or censorship. Increasingly, this unchecked broadcast of misleading views and information is leading to real-life incidents of violence or rallies/ events where violence is threatened.

From the Hindu-Muslim angle to the newly revived spectre of Khalistan, the popular news media is out to convince every citizen that the nation is in grave danger if we don’t vote for a certain political dispensation that shall not be named even on this anonymous platform.

A Platform for All Voices

The situation on social media has deteriorated to such an extent that people are targeted simply for airing their personal views. The recent heinous killing of a man in Jodhpur, for ostensibly agreeing with Nupur Sharma’s statements, is an example of this rising trend.

This would lead to a far greater problem: an independent channel like social media will also end up being self-censored by the users themselves, who would feel afraid to voice their views or concerns. Even if certain cases are not as extreme as the Jodhpur incident, simply supporting or opposing a popular sentiment can expose you to some extreme hatred on social media. This can only discourage people from freely expressing themselves.

This is where Hood comes in. It is a pseudonymous new-age social network where your identity will never be traceable. Therefore, you can freely express the views that you are otherwise afraid to share on platforms where your identity may be tracked. Thus, Hood is truly a platform for all voices, whether they agree with the popularly held narrative or oppose it. 

Download Hood App

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