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

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.