ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Wolves of the Virtual World

What makes Hindutva more lethal than other undemocratic regimes of the past.

This week a journalist with the private news channel, CNN-IBN, landed into trouble after posting what was clearly a morphed image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament Maheish Girri saw the image, which showed the Prime Mini­ster touching the feet of the Saudi king, as an attempt to denigrate the country and very soon an online mob was baying for the blood of the journalist concerned. The argument that photoshopped image was in circulation several months before this incident and was used by the journalist for satire—however poor—was lost on the online militia. He has since taken off the image from his Facebook page and apologised. Chances are that he will face punitive action.

Online vigilantism such as this calls for a re-examination of the so-called democratic potential of the internet—the social media in particular. In recent times as traditional democratic lifelines have fallen prey to authoritarianism, the internet has emerged as a wellspring of hope. Just as it galvanised young people during the Arab Spring four years ago, social media, it is argued, will help movements of democracy in India and help feminists, Ambedkarites, the traditional leftists, environmentalists, students, teachers find collaborative spaces.

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