Social Media platforms must act against toxic and bullying messages

Vidya Bhushan Rawat
(Samajweekly) There is toxicity in the air everywhere but more than that the poison in the virtual world can be the reason for huge damage to our social fabric and democratic society. American media has the spine to stop President Donald Trump’s press conference in between when they felt that he was lying and could pose a danger to the whole electoral system. Social media handle twitter deleted many tweets of President Trump terming them harmful as well as fake news.
Worldover there is a concern for this that this toxicity must stop as it will bring calamity to societies and divide them further but look at us where fake news are being paddled by ‘respectable’ channels and leaders of the government tweeting opposition alliance as ‘Gupkar gang’. For the last few weeks, the nation watched how Arnab Goswami became the ‘news’ number one and the highest court of the land was ‘worried’ about him. If you don’t like him dont watch his channel, said Justice Chandrachud. He added, ‘ I dont dont watch his channel’. The other day, the Chief Justice of India said the same thing but then when people react to these cases, the government threatens them with contempt cases. A comedian joked and the ‘sarkar’ has filed a contempt petition against him. The same government which has said that Andhra Pradesh chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy’s open letter to Chief Justice of India related to Justice Ramanna is not a contempt of the court.
The Bombay High Court recently heard the bail petition of poet and author Varavara Rao who is incarcerated in Taloja jail and finally ordered that he be treated at Nanawati Hospital. The government was not willing to do so and wanted that the poet’s family pay for his medical expenses. So are we going to see a new trend in the coming days where you may be arrested but if you are ill or unwell then expenses have to be borne by the individual or his immediate family member. Capitalism everywhere.
A journalist who has been exposing the land mafia in Assam was tied to an electric pole and beaten up. Many reporters in our states face the biggest threat from political mafias when they report against their corruption charges. The Kerala journalist arrested by Uttar Pradesh police reporting the Hatharas case is still lodged in Mathura jail without any legal remedy. One does not know why such things are happening with an absolute disregard for constitutional norms and practices but then they are not Arnab who is the ‘voice’ of the ‘nation’ and on whose call the nation can breathe. BJP was looking breathless without Arnab at his prime time and that is why they campaigned for his release.
Giving Arnab a tough competition on social media is the new heroine of the Hindutva, Ms Kangana Ranaut. She started her fame from taking on abuse against chief Minister Udhav Thackrey, comparing Mumbai as POK and so many things. Now, every day, Kangana is spewing venom on twitter. All this is happening without any fear of law. Kangana has abused all her opponents, made mockery of people facing psychological and mental disorders. She abused the reservation issue. A recent tweet on American President elect Joe Bidan was an embarrassment. She has become an ‘expert’ on everything with millions of ‘bhakts’ and her ‘jaatwallahs’ ready to take her abuses and bullying as ‘gospel truth’.
Recently Ms Ranaut tried to bully a senior IPS officer from Karnatka. This officer just said that the original version of Diwali never had the fire crackers and it has been introduced in the later stage. Kangana entered into the ‘scene’ and said that the officer is the ‘side effect’ of reservation. She has often mocked at leaders and activists from Dalit community and has been rabid castiest. What is wrong if some body is trying to explain that fire crackers were introduced later and it is harmful. Cant Diwali be better without firecrackers ? But I can say Kangana’s tweets are more toxic and poisonous than the fire crackers.
The effect of ‘social reservation’ which Manu Smriti gave to certain communities while denying dignity to others divided our society and made us hate against our own people. Indian society is paying the price for the side effect of ‘reservation’. And yes, she has the arrogance of judging people based on this ‘reservation’ provided by Manusmriti. The reservation provided by Manusmriti divided our society and made people hate against each other. This reservation means looking down upon people in utter contempt. Ms Ranaut has the same mindset. She says she does not believe in it but we know that her arrogance comes from the caste background.
My problem is not that Kangana or Arnab should not speak or believe in any particular ideology. But there is no equal playing field. Both can be defended by the top lawyers of the country and of course, the government has already provided both of them huge security. It is taxpayers money and should not be used to pollute the already polluted atmosphere. Better, if their services and creativity is used to bring people together.
It is reported that Kangana Ranaut will be playing the lead role of Dr J Jayalalitha in the film Thalaivi. I don’t know whether she got the opportunity to know about the Dravidian movement or the ideology of both the Dravidian parties in Tamilnadu. I don’t know whether Kangana knew well that it was AIADMK under Jayalalitha that forced Narasimha Rao government to put 69% reservation in Tamilnadu under Schedule IX of the constitution so that it can’t be challenged in the court. Does she know that Tamilnadu has one of the best social development indicators and that quotas have only enhanced the capacity of the administration. Ofcourse, Tamilnadu in all social democratic indicators is far superior to Himachal Pradesh, the state she hail from. I hope Kangana Ranuat does not read too much about the Dravidian movement otherwise she will have to quit the film and make an anti film but then who knows how the director is presenting Jayalalitha but definitely we can’t expect a miracle from a heroine who rode on cart horse to portray the role of Rani Laxmibai.
Toxicity of the social media platform will only go when these platforms stop such handles, warning them like what they have been doing in Europe and the United States. When they can take action against Donald Trump what stops them doing the same here. As far as the government is concerned, it has a bigger responsibility but these days everybody is bullying the opponent on the social media to be the ‘queen’ but if all these champions of bullying that they will get political mileage from this, then I am afraid, it won’t be that easy. Kangana outside politics will be good but once she joins it formally, which she will any day, she will find tough competition not from opposing ideologies but from the BJP politicians only but then they do have their own agenda. We wish good sense to prevail and they respect the rights of the people with different views. Let us hope that social media platforms will take action against hate messages and bullying.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat