Skip to main content

US research: 40% of India's casteist Facebook posts are anti-reservation, anti-Dalit

An explicit anti-Dalit, anti-reservation FB post
By Rajiv Shah
A recent American civil society research has found that 40% of India's casteist posts on Facebook (FB) have anti-reservation slant. Asserting that the reservation policy in India is similar to affirmative action in the United States, the research study, titled "Facebook India: Towards The Tipping Point of Violence Caste and Religious Hate Speech", says, this type of hate content on FB is mainly directed against Dalits and Adivasis.
Pointing out that the rhetoric of anti-reservationism is not the only of form of casteism found on FB, the study,  carried out by Equality Labs, a South Asian American human rights and technology start-up, says, "Additional casteist posts included caste-based slurs, derogatory references to caste-based occupations such as manual scavenging, anti-Ambedkar posts (such as photoshopping Ambedkar’s face onto memes as an echo of real-world vandalism), and anti-inter-caste love unions posts."
While casteist posts are found to be 13% of all FB posts having hate content relating to India -- as against 37% Islamophobic, 16% false news, 13% sexist, 11% relating to violence, and 9% anti-religious minorities -- the study believes, "Casteist posts are an area of serious concern" because caste discrimination is part of the Indian "ecosystem of violence designed to shame, intimidate, and keep caste oppressed communities from asserting their rights and participating as equals in society."
Hate content in India's FB posts
Giving specific examples of casteist posts, the study cites an FB group called Anti-Chamaar Group, Pointing out, "Chamaar is a Dalit caste found throughout North India who work with leather". It says, the group -- which came into existence in 2016 and remains intact despite numerous attempts to report about it to FB -- is "explicitly" against this caste, continuing to post derogatory images and content.
Suggesting that the anti-caste content is particularly objectionable because FB has included “caste” when describing protected classes in hate speech, the study regrets, "FB fails in implementing protections for these classes on their platform in the Indian market", blaming it on FB's Indian staff, which, it says, "lacks the cultural competency needed to recognize, respect, and serve caste, religious, gender, and queer minorities".
Giving more examples of anti-caste posts, the study cites one where a photoshopped image of Dr BR Ambedkar, "a Dalit anti-caste liberation leader whose stature is similar to that of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in America. Its caption reads, “When you clean all the toilets and then fuck up the education system with reservation.”
The study states, "To understand why this post is so deeply offensive, one must understand the work conditions of Dalits. These castes have historically been forced into forms of slavery requiring them to do the filthiest jobs, like handling dead bodies and cleaning toilets. Even in modern-day India, this includes the practice of manual scavenging, where Dalit workers clean out the sewage from sewers with their bare hands and bodies."
Asserting that "thousands of Dalits die every year as a result of inhaling sewer gases or by simply drowning in sewage", and calling it a "dreadful exploitation", the study says, despite this, "A caste-oppressed people is made the brunt of jokes." It adds, "The social context is also important here. Statues of Dr Ambedkar are regularly vandalized in India to intimidate and shame caste oppressed communities."
In yet another example, the study cites two anti-reservationist posts, noting, they make "a derogatory reference to the caste-based occupation of cleaning sewage", implying that "Dalits are good for only jobs involving sewers and not fit to compete with 'savarnas' (upper caste people) for jobs with dignity." The posts have appeared on a page made by an FB group that calls for the need to make Manusmriti as India's Constitution.
The study finds yet another post taking a similar line, pointing out, it is particularly "distressing", because, even as rejecting Manusmriti, it talks of " fucking" the Constitution, underlining, the position it takes is to assert that "Hindu scripture is above the Constitution of India — and not just any scripture, but [Manusmriti] that enforces caste oppression and violence."
Then, the study gives the example of a post with "another meme of Dr Ambedkar", showing shows him "jumping of a bridge with the epithet 'bhangi', making a pun on 'bungee jumping'." It adds, "Terms like 'bhangi' are extremely derogatory in India... While bhangi is the name of a caste that does manual scavenging, or the cleaning of sewers, it is used as a slur in upper caste communities."
Then, says the study, a post provides "a deeply offensive manipulated image" in which "the face of Dalit leader Mayawati has been photoshopped onto the body of a Miss India beauty pageant winner. The caption below references Indian affirmative action policies saying that in 2030 there will be reservation (affirmative action) for beauty pageants for Dalits and Adivasis."
Comments the study, "Beyond the repetition and disregard of affirmative action, this image is meant to further mock and demean Mayawati with the underlying insinuation that she is unattractive. The idea is to trivialize Dalit people, and Dalit women in particular, who are often stereotyped as dark, ugly, like demons, witches, unattractive, and so on."
The study regrets, over and above all this, "there is widespread doxxing occurring on the FB platform, threatening activists, journalists, and others who speak on behalf of the vulnerable, adding, "93% of all hate speech posts reported to FB remain on FB. This includes content advocating violence, bullying and use of offensive slurs, reflecting a near total failure of the content moderation process."

Comments

Unknown said…
Entire blog is portraying upper cast as tyrant,which totally wrong, blog writer has not written about tyranee inflicted on uppercast by Dalits under draconian sc st act,Even supreme court of India had said that this law is used to blackmail uppercast, This is the only law which is against the natural law of justice. Now a days upper casts are living in fear,There is absolutely biased treatment by govt for eg if murder of any uppercast person is done he will not get any benefit,but if any dalit is murder his heirs will be given govt job and house.where is the equality before law ?Now a days upper
Anonymous said…
The person commenting is a RSS minded people who don’t know that SC ST act applies on those who committed crimes against these community people. And a person TIWARI murdered in Lucknow, his family was awarded with rs 50 lakh with gazetted post in UP govt.
If this type of mind set of these so called Savarna, why they are not agreed to puna pact proposed by Dr B R Ambedkar
Anonymous said…
the person above is ravan minset of people who regularly victimize upper caste people

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Liberating Bengal Hindus? Worst flames of communal division, lessons from the past

By Shamsul Islam*  The whole thrust of the RSS-BJP election campaign for 2021 state assembly elections in West Bengal has been to save Bengal from the rule of Mamata Bannerjee who is allegedly not a ‘Hindu’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, as usual set the polarizing agenda. While addressing the first election rally, he called upon the electorate to overthrow the ‘nirmam’ (cruel) rule of Mamata by showing a ‘Ram Card’. He did not name Hindus directly but there was no confusion about the religious identity of the electorate Indian PM was addressing to.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Modi's Hindutva 'ensuring' empowerment of rich, disenfranchisement of poor

Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Hindutva socio-psychopaths are neither nationalists nor patriotic people. These medieval reactionary forces don’t understand the idea of citizenship, justice, liberty, equality and humanism. Indian democracy is merely an electoral transaction for the Hindutva forces. Hindutva forces neither follow science nor understand the sufferings of fellow human beings. These core qualities are common among the Hindutva forces in India.

Rs 5 crore 'demand' for India Today anchor: What about 52 lesser souls who died in April?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  A well known Hindutva protagonist masquerading as journalist passed away recently resulting in messages of condolences and tribute right from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to progressive liberals expressing grief of his untimely death. It is said that he passed away due to cardiac arrest, though the fact is, he was also Covid infected. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister termed him a ‘brave’ journalist, insisting, his passing away has left a big ‘vacuum’.

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

India's Covid-19 'nightmare': A product of majoritarian Hindutva ideological praxis?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Indians struggle to find place and time to bury their dead due to the devastating effects of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. The crematoriums in the capital cities are overflowing with dead bodies. People are dying without oxygen and basic medical support. The cities like Delhi and Mumbai are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections and COVID-19 led deaths. The deaths and destitutions are products of a defunct BJP government led by Narendra Modi.

Indian media persons collapsing to Covid disease as fast as 3 per day, third highest

Yogesh Sharma, Shailesh Rawal  By Our Representative  The Switzerland based media rights and safety body, Press Emblem Campaign ( PEC ) has said that it is “alarming for Indian journalists”, who have lost at least 107 colleagues to Covid-19”, noting, Indian “journo-colleagues” have been collapsing to the Covid-19 complications now as fast as three scribes per day. In a statement, PEC said, “India with 107 media corona-casualties has already placed itself on the third position just below Brazil (181 dead) and Peru (140) in the list of Covid-19 victims among journalist.”

Activist-journalist Indukumar Jani served marginalised, felt helpless towards end of life

By Martin Macwan* We, his friends and colleagues, lovingly called him Indubhai. He is no more . The vacuum created by his departure into a shrinking space for social activism will be difficult to fill. In his 77 year age, he spent 41 long years, serving the most marginalized through multiple activities, especially through his writings.