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

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

#StandWithStan: It's about Constitution, democracy and freedom of expression

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It is more than three weeks now: On the night of October 8, 2020, the 83-year-old Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy was taken into custody by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) from his residence in Ranchi to an undisclosed destination. According to his colleagues, the NIA did not serve a warrant on Fr. Stan and that their behaviour was absolutely arrogant and rude.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

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".

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.

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.