It is a real achievement to get a fairly apolitical neo-Platonist who cares more about the Roman Empire than any present political entity to be annoyed about the spate of articles about “internet Hindus,” “trolls,” and the “Right wing.” But first, it was that Raman piece about NaMo and his trolls, and then a piece in the Hindustan Times, and now Global Post’s latest article, “Meet the Internet Hindus.” To be fair, this third piece is describing the phenomenon, and is far more objective than most twitter comments or the other two articles. In any case, let me make a few points clear to you moderns:

1. It is not trolling to disagree with you.

2. If by trolling, you mean boorish, obnoxious, creatures who seem to have a strong affinity to poor spelling and profanities, guess what? That is what we call the “Great Unwashed.” The internet is filled with them – semi-literate, ill-bred, angry folks who apparently get high on belching their brand of venom on YouTube, twitter, or whatever other fora there are out there.

3. Trolls are not a monopoly of the Right, Hindus, or anyone else. I have been on twitter less than a year, and have come across pro-Palestine, pro-Pakistan, pro-life, pro-Congress, über-religious Muslims, Christians, and Hindus. They are all despicable creatures I have blocked faster than Harry Callahan’s draw.

4. I am genuinely amused by how a discussion on trolling discusses only the Indian religious Right…who are Hindus. An analogy would be my writing an article about religious violence and massacres in India and covering the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984, Nanoor, Chittisinghpura, Chapnari, Wandhama, Hashimpura, the Godhra train burning, and Marad. Notice anything missing?

5. If you think that, in an open platform like twitter, people will follow Robert’s Rules of Order, the fault lies in you.

6. If you are a public figure, even a lowly journalist, you are in the public eye. That comes at a cost. Monica Seles was stabbed; Ronald Reagan was shot; I am not going to even pretend any of you will ever reach such heights, but the reassuring news is that chances are less that you will be stabbed or shot at. However, you may get trolled. Deal with it! We’d all like world peace, perfect health, zero poverty, and no crime…don’t see it happening.

7. In the three pieces, the one line I thought actually made sense was a quote attributed to Shivam Vij: “In our English mainstream media, the right wing has very little voice.” Anyone who has spent even a little time watching English programming on Indian TV or has followed the English press in India would know that to be the gospel truth. If some of these mainstream outlets took the effort to listen to voices they were not paid to listen to, perhaps they’d know a bit more about the mood of the country. The Indian media’s lack of diversity of political opinion is not far from many police states I have been to! (Apologies to @calamur – hers was a balanced voice of reason too)

8. Had anyone bothered to check, it is not just the Right, but a huge chunk of the country that hates the UPA and the corruption, ineptitude, double standards, and arrogance it has come to represent. They also hate the impotence of the Opposition, the BJP. And hence they feel helpless when the mainstream devotes time to Shahrukh Khan getting frisked at an American airport rather than the terrible state of education in the country, or the misuse of the quota system, or even an intelligent debate on whether India can afford the welfare hell the NAC has planned for it.

9. And finally, Ms. Bhandare, lest you think I disagree with you, I don’t. I just think you left out a whole side to the story and five more categories of trolls:

  • The Spit-and-Scoot: Will make an asinine claim about the “Nazi” Modi, and then run and not defend the position
  • The mad leftwinger: If you are not pro-UPA, then you must be a goose-stepping, saffron fascist
  • The see-only-evil monkey: Those who think India is the birthplace of evil and the only way to wipe the slate clean is to adopt Western ideas wholesale, not once pausing to think if they apply to Indian society
  • The random journo: This one will tweet flippantly about Kareena Kapoor’s latest shade of nail polish in the midst of an exchange on NREGA – no, this journo is no friend of Kareena, and probably eats alone and has lots of cats
  • The bore – this one thinks he is saying something intelligent but it is just more regurgitated propaganda about welfare, quotas, or religious pluralism.

Gratias vobis ago.

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Jaideep A. Prabhu is a specialist in foreign and nuclear policy; he also pokes his nose in energy and defence related matters.

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