Electronic communication is contributing to real-world harm in several ways and this is more acute in world’s largest democracy. As a large, diverse and multi-cultural society, India has been at the receiving end of growing menace of online hate speeches which in increasing number of instances leading to group violence and full blown communal clashes.
For instance, Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state, has seen a massive 400 per cent jump in hate speech related violence between 2021 (147) to 2022 (581). While there are number of laws including Section 66 (A) of the Information Technology Act defining and penalising online hate speech, the hate speeches and resultant violence continue flourishing in the absence of effective policing and robust political response.
On the contrary, this has emboldened the hate mongers from religious groups, political entrepreneurs and other vested interest groups to weaponise the hate to trigger polarisation and profit politically. While the governmental bodies and the judiciary have been alarmed by rising tides of hate speeches and associated outcomes, no concrete state response has merged to the rising menace.
About Niranjan Sahoo
Dr. Niranjan Sahoo is a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, a leading think tank in New Delhi. Dr Sahoo now leads ORF’s studies and programmes on democracy and governance in South Asia. A recipient of Ford Asia Fellowship (2009) and Sir Ratan Tata Fellow (2010), Dr Sahoo currently serves as expert for the Carnegie Rising Democracies Network, Washington, D.C. He serves a regional coordinator for Asia Democracy Research Network (ADRN), Seoul. He is a Visiting Senior Fellow with Centre for Multilevel Federalism, Delhi.
This lecture is organized by the Elections, Violence, and Parties project: new theory, data, and evidence on the nature, organization, and consequences of electoral violence. The project is part of the AISSR PETGOV program group.