A group of 17 current and retired faculty members of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore on Tuesday urged leaders of the Indian corporate sector to stop funding news and social media organisations that air “hateful or genocidal content”.
In an open letter, the group said that there has been an open and public exhibit of hatred towards minorities in India in the public discourse through television news and social media.
“The usage of othering, dehumanising and demonising language while referring to minorities has reached alarming levels, and acts of violent hate crimes, often by organised and radicalised groups, against minorities have seen a rise,” the letter said.
It added: “The inaction of police and security forces during recent communal riots, as well as the acquittal or pardoning of culprits involved in rape and mass murder during previous instances of riots, coupled with the silence of authorities, has signalled a glaring level of complacency in place of urgency by the government.”
Since May 3, the northeastern state of Manipur has been wrecked with ethnic violence between the Kukis and the Meiteis. The violence has left 187 persons dead and at least 60,000 people displaced.
In Haryana, communal violence has gripped Nuh and Gurugram districts since last week following a clash between Hindus and Muslims during a procession organised by the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The violence has also compelled Muslim migrant workers to flee their shanties.
The letter was also referring to the Gujarat government decision on on August 15 to approve the application under its remission policy to release all the 11 men sentence to life term in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gangrape and murder case.
The signatories of the letter include Anubha Dhasmana, Shalique MS, Raghavan Srinivasan (retired), Arpita Chatterjee and Mira Bakhru (retired).
In their letter, the faculty members said that these incidents concern corporate India as they point towards an increasing risk of violent conflicts in the country.
“In the worst case, such acts of violence could culminate into a genocide, which would annihilate the social fabric as well as the economy of the country, casting a long dark shadow over India’s future,” they said. “Corporate India, which hopes to reach new frontiers of international growth and innovation in the 21st century, cannot afford to live with even a small possibility of such a scenario.”
They added: “The deteriorating social fabric in the country, due to increasing hate and dehumanising speech and radicalisation, shall inevitably lead to escalating violence and socioeconomic uncertainty, permanently paralysing the future of the country.”
The group urged leaders of corporate India to support responsible stakeholders instead of funding news channels or social media organisations that run shows or promote hatred towards minorities of India.
“Conduct an internal audit to ensure that their [coroporations] funds, in forms like advertising or donations, go to only such stakeholders, like news and social media organizations that conduct themselves responsibly, and not fan the flames of hate and misinformation,” the letter said.
They also urged corporate leaders to conduct timely diversity and inclusion sensitisation events within their organisations to ensure their work culture remains welcoming to people of a variety of faiths and social backgrounds.
The Supreme Court, on multiple occasions, has also taken note of hate speeches on television news debates or by politicians.
In April, the Supreme Court ordered all states and Union Territories to register cases against instances of hate speech even if no complaint is filed.
Earlier in March, the bench had observed that hate speech would end if politicians stop misusing religion. It also called hate speech a “vicious circle” and said that such utterings are being made by fringe elements and that people should restrain themselves from doing so.