Save Karnataka from the clutches of fake news and religious bigotry
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The Karnataka state assembly election is fast approaching and it is now a common sight to see political parties rake up issues for electoral gain. India is a proud democracy and our Constitution gives us the freedom to have different political views and campaign for a party or candidate of our choice. Indeed, this is the hallmark of a healthy democracy.
However, recent trends in Karnataka and many other parts of the country are saddening. Very recently, a founder of a fake news site was caught putting out a false report that was meant to cause friction between communities and trigger violence. In all probability, this was meant to polarise the election in favour of a major political party.
Fake news has become a menace in recent years, with social media functioning as a catalyst for its fast dissemination. Yet, this isn't the first time that the website in question- and many other news channels- have resorted to fake news and hate propaganda on behalf of their political masters. Fake news occurs by design, and not at random, and is meant to use the gullibility of the common man to spread propaganda. The aim seems to be to incite violence, instill hatred among different communities and gain votes as a result. Perhaps this is the only way these politicians think they can win an election - for apart from creating a religious divide, their election campaign does not touch on pressing matters that affect the citizens – such as water, environment, agriculture, jobs, education, safety and security, among others..
While the constitutional right to freedom of expression allows Indians to criticize the views and opinions of others, it also imposes "reasonable restrictions" on this right to prevent the spread of views that incite hatred towards communities in India. The owner of the fake news site in Karnataka was arrested due to this reason.
Karnataka is the land of Basavanna and Kuvempu, a land that is known for its refined culture and harmonious relations between different communities.
Let us look back at what these great minds had to say:
ಕಳಬೇಡ, ಕೊಲಬೇಡ, ಹುಸಿಯ ನುಡಿಯಲು ಬೇಡ ಮುನಿಯ ಬೇಡ, ಅನ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಅಸಹ್ಯ ಪಡ ಬೇಡ . ತನ್ನ ಬಣ್ಣಿಸ ಬೇಡ, ಇದಿರ ಹಳಿಯಲು ಬೇಡ ಇದೇ ಅಂತರಂಗ ಶುಧಿ, ಇದೇ ಬಹಿರಂಗ ಶುಧಿ
(Do not steal, Do not kill, Do not tell lies, Do not lose your temper, Do not feel disgust for the others... This is inner purity, this is outer purity."
Kuvempu's soul-stirring Jai Bharata Jananiya Tanujaathe, is our state anthem. We grown up hearing the poet's description of Karnataka as
ಸರ್ವಜನಾಂಗದ ಶಾಂತಿಯ ತೋಟ; ರಸಿಕರ ಕಂಗಳ ಸೆಳೆಯುವ ನೋಟ! ;
ಹಿಂದೂ ಕ್ರೈಸ್ತ ಮುಸಲ್ಮಾನ; ಪಾರಸಿಕ ಜೈನರುದ್ಯಾನ ; ಜನಕನ ಹೋಲುವ ದೊರೆಗಳ ಧಾಮ,
ಗಾಯಕ ವೈಣಿಕರಾರಾಮ ; ಕನ್ನಡ ನುಡಿ ಕುಣಿದಾಡುವ ಗೇಹ! ; ಕನ್ನಡ ತಾಯಿಯ ಮಕ್ಕಳ ದೇಹ!
(Translation: A garden of peace for all communities, An alluring sight for aesthetes, A garden with Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Parsis and Jains, An abode for kings like Janaka, singers and veena players, A house where Kannada dances joyfully, The body of the children of Mother Kannada."
Karnataka has seen numerous writers, artists and politicians who have upheld humane values and helped create a great democratic culture. Yet, we see our beloved land fall prey to hate-mongers who make up false news reports. It worries to see the harm that will follow if such elements are given a free hand. Let us, Kannadigas and citizens of India, take a pledge to eliminate this menace. Let us pledge to call out fake news, those who indulge in hate speech and instigate violence. Let us stop sharing or forwarding unverified videos, posts and tweets that carry negative portrayals and false depictions of any individual or group. Let us stop focusing on what divides us, and build our and our children’s future on what unites us all. Let us reclaim our Karnataka from those who want to convert this into a cauldron of hatred and falsehood..
Jai Karnataka, Jai Hind
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