Arguing online

The Charlie Hebdo attacks have inevitably turned into a sickular-bhakt drama

How long before nuance disappears from India?

When you’re having a decade-old debate that is, almost by its nature, inconclusive, you need to keep looking for new points that can help buttress your argument. As a result everything that’s happening in the news is immediately appropriated and spun, usually by both sides.

Take the grand Indian sickular-bhakt debate.

More incidents of firing along the Line of Control? Bhakts, as Modi supporters are known online, can prove that the new government is being tough on Pakistan. Coast Guard intercepts alleged “terror boat”? Sickulars, as progressive have come to be labelled, argue that the authorities are trying to oversell a small smuggling bust. Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament says every Hindu woman should have four children? Bhakts insist the sickular media is trying to distract from the development agenda of the new government.

Muslim terrorists open fire in the newsroom of a French magazine known for provocative satire? Proof that Islam is an intolerant religion and that the world must do something about it (Bhakt). Or, further evidence that those who display intolerance when it comes to free speech are encouraging further violence. (Sickular).

Bhakt: The OpIndia staff for example gleefully collected the responses of “Indian liberals” to point out how they are sticking to script. “Indian ‘liberals’ are as predictable as religious bigots. As soon as Islamic terrorists barged into the office of Charlie Hebdo...  one thought they would shed their predictable behavior of being apologist for Islamic terrorists,” the libertarian website wrote. “But one was expecting too much.”

Sickular: The liberal brigade, meanwhile, inevitably tried to connect the French terror attacks to events in India, whether they were the recent protests about the controversial film PK or the intolerance of the Bhakt army on twitter.

 

Now this happens internationally as well. The Charlie Hebdo attacks have brought up a broader debate about how to condemn terror attacks like the ones in Paris while also making a point that the content which provoked it was racist. That debate mostly presumes you have to fall on one side or the other: either you condemn the attacks and implicitly endorse the content or criticise the cartoons and thereby applaud the terror. So there’s nothing new about this sort of binary thinking.

What is more troubling is the ease with this George W Bush-stamped narrative ‒ you’re either with us or against us ‒ has begun to spread. It’s exacerbated by social media, of course. When the armies, Bhakt or Sickular, decide to take you on, it’s almost impossible to insist on a nuanced point of view.

Again, this isn’t a problem for, say, the discerning Twitter user who curates her timeline carefully. But, as more and more journalists, policy-makers and politicians start to spend time on social networks, they have begun to tailor their approaches to the kinds of discourse that is common on there.

To give you an idea of where this might lead, take a look at this story about how divided the United States has become over the last few decades.


Michael Tesler/Monkey Cage 


America is so polarised that the Conservative-Liberal divide, their version of Bhakt-Sickular, even extends to which movies ought to be winning Oscars or how murder trials should have ended or who gets to own basketball teams. There is no crossing-the-aisle, you’re either on one side or another to such an extent that those on either side have begun to self-select.

Liberals and conservatives don’t just disagree with each other in America. They also have begun to view each other as a threat to the country, have become much less likely to compromise and have even stopped living next to each other.

Despite the views of some, particularly in the aftermath of Narendra Modi ascending to the prime ministership, India is not even close to being there yet. You can still find people who will eat beef and yet be annoyed by PK or others who joined in with Swach Bharat but think Ghar Wapsi is a dangerous phenomenon.

But America once had plenty of people who would identify with opinions on either side as well. How long before nuance disappears from India?

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Can a colour encourage creativity and innovation?

The story behind the universally favoured colour - blue.

It was sought after by many artists. It was searched for in the skies and deep oceans. It was the colour blue. Found rarely as a pigment in nature, it was once more precious than gold. It was only after the discovery of a semi-precious rock, lapis lazuli, that Egyptians could extract this rare pigment.

For centuries, lapis lazuli was the only source of Ultramarine, a colour whose name translated to ‘beyond the sea’. The challenges associated with importing the stone made it exclusive to the Egyptian kingdom. The colour became commonly available only after the invention of a synthetic alternative known as ‘French Ultramarine’.

It’s no surprise that this rare colour that inspired artists in the 1900s, is still regarded as the as the colour of innovation in the 21st century. The story of discovery and creation of blue symbolizes attaining the unattainable.

It took scientists decades of trying to create the elusive ‘Blue Rose’. And the fascination with blue didn’t end there. When Sir John Herschel, the famous scientist and astronomer, tried to create copies of his notes; he discovered ‘Cyanotype’ or ‘Blueprints’, an invention that revolutionized architecture. The story of how a rugged, indigo fabric called ‘Denim’ became the choice for workmen in newly formed America and then a fashion sensation, is known to all. In each of these instances of breakthrough and innovation, the colour blue has had a significant influence.

In 2009, the University of British Columbia, conducted tests with 600 participants to see how cognitive performance varies when people see red or blue. While the red groups did better on recall and attention to detail, blue groups did better on tests requiring invention and imagination. The study proved that the colour blue boosts our ability to think creatively; reaffirming the notion that blue is the colour of innovation.

When we talk about innovation and exclusivity, the brand that takes us by surprise is NEXA. Since its inception, the brand has left no stone unturned to create excusive experiences for its audience. In the search for a colour that represents its spirit of innovation and communicates its determination to constantly evolve, NEXA created its own signature blue: NEXA Blue. The creation of a signature color was an endeavor to bring something exclusive and innovative to NEXA customers. This is the story of the creation, inspiration and passion behind NEXA:

Play

To know more about NEXA, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of NEXA and not by the Scroll editorial team.