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Analysis of propaganda and disinformation against Hinduism in India

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Pavan Teja
Pavan Teja
An aspiring filmmaker and an occasional writer

Propaganda is a deliberate and systematic attempt to change perceptions, thoughts, and behavior. The goal is to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist. Misinformation is false or inaccurate information regardless of an intention to deceive. Disinformation is inaccurate information intended to cause harm. A person, group, or entity coordinates to distribute disinformation in a campaign. They usually conceal the true objectives of the campaign.

Propaganda and disinformation have become a part of the modern world. Every day we wake up to see thousands of fake news, social media posts, and videos related to propaganda. Religious or political affiliation is an indicator of the majority of the propaganda. The Newspapers are a major source of disinformation as others can cite them as a source. After a few decades, it becomes history when there is no one left to contradict.

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.”

― Mark Twain

The goal of propaganda is not only to push an agenda but also to create a cognitive bias to gain followers. When someone repeats the same lie for years, we start to doubt if it’s true.

“The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”

― Garry Kasparov

The propaganda is already successful in creating cognitive dissonance among the Hindus. They are apologetic towards minorities despite facing persecution for centuries. The media reveals religion and caste only for minorities or backward castes victims. This is a tactic to create guilt and shame among the Hindus. Although many ignore propaganda, it is an effective tool to manipulate the masses.

Identity of the propagandists

A strong, centralized, decision-making authority produces successful propaganda. It spreads a consistent message throughout its structure. It’s easy to trace the network by finding the consistency in their messages. The black propaganda appears as a casual opinion or regular News. The lack of consistency makes the identification difficult. The propaganda against Hinduism has the consistency to the extent that it became predictable. For example, the propagandists will come up with environmental concerns for this Diwali.

The major entities that have vested interest in India are China and Pakistan. China is land-locked and is trying to get access to the Ocean. The debt-trap diplomacy of China is a strategy to gain military advantages. Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Pakistan received loans from China. The communists in India are the biggest asset for China in pushing their propaganda. Pakistan wants to occupy the entire Kashmir. They have several Islamists including student leaders, journalists, and politicians spreading disinformation. The Congress party wants to keep power within their family and can go to any extent to achieve their goals. The Islamists, Communists, and Congress (ICC) teamed up for their individual goals. They have major players of Indian media within their network. They spread propaganda when there is an opportunity, or create opportunities through disinformation. We can trace almost all propagandists back to the ICC group. So, this group could be the central authority that creates and spreads the propaganda.

Goals of the propaganda

The purpose of propaganda is to achieve acceptance of the propagandist’s ideology. Joseph Goebbels worked as the Nazi propagandist. He said that propaganda has no fundamental method, only purpose—the conquest of the masses.

The major goal of the propaganda against India is to tarnish the country’s reputation. They portray India as a land of riots, caste discrimination, communal hate, rapes, mob lynching, and intolerance. The propagandists want to malign the image of Hinduism through their campaigns. They not only weaken the country from the inside but also spoil our foreign relations. It can help them to cut external support in issues like border disputes and terrorism.

Whitewashing campaign

A formal whitewashing campaign has run in favor of Islam and Pakistan for a few years. The primary message of the campaign is “Terrorism has no religion.” Almost a decade ago, they flooded social media with this message. They still bring it up while discussing Islamic terrorism. The Hindus supported it and promoted it themselves. Most of them considered it as a friendly gesture towards the moderate Muslims. The ICC group made several attempts to show Pakistan in a positive light. They supported Pakistani cricketers, singers, actors, and politicians. Social activists like Malala Yousafzai promoted Pakistan as a safe country.

They ran some campaigns to spread the message that the hijab is not oppressive. The feminist groups promote the hijab as a right of Muslim women and they enjoy wearing it. They demand a boycott of restaurants serving non-halal food. It was an organized attempt to threaten food outlets with a boycott if they don’t meet their demands. Some restaurants claimed that all their food is halal which resulted in a backlash. They encouraged people to disown Indian identity. It includes taking offense to the slogans like “Vande Mataram” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai.” They even replaced saffron color from the National flag with Blue color in movies like Kaala.

The Bollywood industry and OTT platforms like Netflix helped them push the propaganda. The following are some of the themes used in popular Bollywood films:

  • Terrorism has no religion – My Name is Khan
  • Pakistan is fighting against terrorism – Tiger Zinda Hai
  • Secular terrorist – Raees
  • Innocent Pakistanis – PK
  • Innocent thieves & drug peddlers – Gully Boy
  • Secular Pakistan – Bajrangi Bhaijaan

Netflix not only runs propaganda but also gives opportunities to support it. They never shy away from it and attack in retaliation if anyone questions the same.

They showcase Islamic terrorists as militants & rebels to social activists and misguided youth. The ICC media covers up their crimes starting from robberies to terrorism. They justify crimes based on the background of criminals. In some cases, they portray victims as the perpetrators and blame them for the crimes. One section of the Indian media is standing up against such propaganda. But, their journalists face abuses, threats, and harassment.

Objectives of the propaganda

As they whitewash the crimes of some people, they try to portray some others as criminals. The same is true on an international scale. As they whitewash the terrorist activities of Pakistan, they portray India in its place. This is because India has more respect when compared to Pakistan in foreign countries. They want to portray Hindus as evil as Islamic terrorists to make things even. They create similar entities for the symbolism and problems of Islam. The following are the most prominent issues:

Jihad – Hindutva

Jihad became a synonym for terrorism as the Islamic terrorists often use that word. Now, the ICC group has established extremism in the form of Hindutva. The earliest idea of Hindutva was to promote India as a uniform country. The major aspects are a single language (Hindi), ethnicity, tolerance, and security. The Muslims couldn’t consider themselves as the converted Hindus. They used to take pride in claiming themselves as the successors of invaders. Moreover, they can’t accept all other religions as equal to Islam. These 2 reasons made them reject the idea of Hindutva. After all these years, the ICC group brought it up in association with terrorism. They started spreading disinformation to popularize the word.

Anyone can brainwash the West to consider something as evil if they compare it with Nazis. This is exactly what has happened with Hindutva. The Pakistan PM, Imran Khan, often uses the words “Hindutva,” “Nazi,” “Hitler,” “Kashmir,” and “fascist.” The masses in the countries like USA and UK couldn’t think and process any information as soon as they read Hitler. So, they assume Hindutva as an extremist ideology. They wouldn’t form a good impression if we compare something to Jesus Christ. This is why negative propaganda spreads faster than the truth. The ICC group is successful with similar campaigns in several other countries. After a few years, the term “Hindutva” became popular around the world as Hindu extremism.

Allah Hu Akbar – Jai Shree Ram

The official war cry of most of the terrorists on the planet, Allah Hu Akbar, is popular around the world. If someone shouts it in a flight, airport, or a busy street, it’ll create panic among the surrounding people. It may result in a fine, arrest, or even violent reaction from the security forces. There is no such war cry among the Hindus as Hinduism is a polytheistic religion and there are many Gods. The national politics in India revolve around the Delhi-UP-Bihar zone. The Babri Masjid’s demolition was the focal point of the current political scenario. So, the ICC group picked the slogan “Jai Shree Ram” as the war cry of extremist Hindus. What followed next was the flood of disinformation and fake news. The narrative would be Hindus beating up Muslims while chanting Jai Shree Ram. But, they failed to spread it on an international scale due to the lack of intended response.

Islamic terrorist organizations – Sangh Parivar

Islamic terrorist organizations are notorious for their religious extremism. The terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, ISIS, JeM & Hizbul Mujahideen are popular worldwide. The ICC group portrays Sangh Parivar as the Hindu equivalents of Islamic terrorists. The Sangh Parivar includes BJP, RSS, VHP, and several others. They tried to blame RSS for the 26/11 Mumbai attacks but failed. Later, they ran a campaign to paint Narendra Modi as a fascist. Nowadays, they are creating communal violence to blame it on Sangh Parivar. The BJP is fighting against them as it could tarnish their reputation. This is their most important campaign and everything else contributes to it. The American TV series, Quantico, tried to portray Hindu terror in one of the episodes (S03E05). The episode portrays a Hindu as a mastermind behind a terrorist attack, to blame Pakistan for it. ABC apologized after outrage against Priyanka Chopra.

Islamic State – Hindu Rashtra

The Caliphate or Islamic State is the dream of many hardcore Muslims. They want the country to follow Islamic standards and enforce Sharia. The ICC group created Hindu Rashtra as the Hindu version of the Islamic State. They promoted it as the oppressive Hindu rule where minorities have limited rights. The web series Leila shows their version of the Hindu Rashtra. But, it received backlash over the poor script and plagiarism. They tried to use the concept of Akhand Bharat for this campaign. But, they dropped it as they don’t want to popularize anything related to Hinduism even by mistake. So, they chose Hindu Rashtra for the campaign and is often associated with BJP/RSS.

Religious intolerance

Religious intolerance is the trademark of Islam. No other religion comes anywhere close to Islam in case of intolerance. The blasphemy laws, no minority rights, harassment & bullying are normal in Islamic countries. The destruction of religious places of others is normal for Muslims and no one would condemn it. The destruction of shops and houses of Hindus in protest to social media posts is common even in India. The threat, kidnap, and rape are common means of forced conversions. The marital rape of underage girls is a common sight in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The ICC groups started a campaign to paint India as intolerant. Aamir Khan made an intolerance remark as a part of the campaign. They sent a letter to PM Narendra Modi in 2019 about the growing intolerance in the country.

The villagers in many parts of India are aggressive to burglary. As they are afraid of losing their livelihood, they tie the thieves to trees or electric poles and beat them up. They generally do it to create fear among thieves or out of anger. In some cases, the villagers themselves get arrested for the violence. The ICC group started reporting all such incidents as religious intolerance. They reported some of these incidents as beef lynchings if the thieves try to steal cows. This is a successful campaign on an international scale. A lot of people believe that there is a growing religious intolerance in India.

Discrimination and systematic oppression of women

Another major issue with Islam is the systematic oppression of women. There are many issues as follows:

  • Women are not considered equal to men
  • Husbands can beat their wives
  • Polygamy allowed for men
  • Child marriages
  • Triple Talaq
  • Nikah Halala

These are only a few examples of the discrimination faced by Muslim women. A campaign is running to showcase Hinduism as the most oppressive religion for women. Hinduism also has social issues like dowry, child marriages, and domestic violence. But, they are illegal and have strict laws against them in India. They run campaigns to paint Hindu festivals and cultural practices as oppressive. The feminist groups that run these campaigns promote similar Islamic practices. Many women consider it their moral duty to follow these groups to support other women. But, the same groups abuse women’s rights to push their propaganda.

They equate the hijab with ghoonghat to portray Hinduism as oppressive. But, ghoonghat is a cultural practice restricted to Western India. You won’t find such a practice in South India as there is a huge cultural difference. Even the festivals like Karwa Chauth have cultural equivalents like Atla Taddi. The cultural practices in Hinduism differ from region to region.

Several celebrities take part in placard campaigns to push their propaganda. For example, the word ‘Devisthan’ is unknown to most people in India. The Kathua rape & murder case has a placard campaign with Devisthan written as “Devi”-sthan. We can understand if the word gains popularity through an individual, a group, or an incident. But, that’s not the case in this incident. This hints at a private network with a central authority. They informed everyone about the campaign and gave proper instructions to spread their propaganda. Moreover, this shows the fact that none of them have any sympathy or respect for the victim. They have participated in the campaign only for their purposes.

Divide and rule

Islam has several communities like Sunni, Shia, and Ahmadi. The dominating community, Sunni, discriminates against others like Shia and Ahmadi. The discrimination is worse in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh. The legal framework of India protects Ahmadi Muslims from others. In Pakistan, they are not considered Muslims and are not allowed to follow the religion. The ICC media portrays Islam as a homogeneous religion. The Congress party took extreme measures in their vote bank politics. They promised a hike in reservations and first right over the national resources. This distanced them from the majority of Hindus. But, they can’t come out of the ICC group and give equal status to Hindus. So, they started a campaign to split Hindus based on the caste system. Their slogan, “Jai Bheem Jai Meem”, represents the coalition of Dalits and Muslims. They wanted to form a majority through this coalition without stopping their propaganda. Jinnah and Mabedkar formed a similar coalition in the past. Jinnah promised a country for Dalits if Ambedkar helps him in the formation of Pakistan. But, he abandoned Ambedkar after the formation of Pakistan. They are using the same strategy again like the old wine in a new bottle.

Not in my name campaign

This is another popular campaign which didn’t last long. Almost all the terrorist groups on the planet are Islamic. But, the Muslims never condemn or disown them. Some people criticize the terrorist attacks with ifs and buts. But, they never criticize them for maligning Islam and using it to murder innocents. The ICC group ran a “Not in my name” campaign to criticize BJP and RSS. They called BJP and RSS the extremists who use violence in the name of Hinduism. These organizations don’t even use Hinduism in their name. The people started questioning the propagandists to comment on the terrorist organizations. They immediately stopped the campaign to avoid further damage.

Religious preachers

The ICC media writes the names of Islamic preachers and occultists as babas and tantrics. Sometimes, they don’t even mention the names of the criminals. They don’t write anything against people like Zakir Naik who has radicalized youth to join ISIS. This is a deliberate attempt to malign Hinduism. They continue this practice even after an outrage. Some social media influencers are pointing it out to create awareness.

Aamir Khan’s film, PK, is about a God-man who claims to contact God and pass his message to the devotees. There is no such person in the history of Hinduism. This is nothing but a satire on Prophet Muhammad who claimed to be a prophet of God without any proof. His non-Muslim Arab contemporaries and the Jewish tribes of Arabia criticized him. They gave him the derogatory nickname ha-Meshuggah (the Madman or the Possessed). Some critics think that Satan tricked him into adulterating a pure divine revelation. This could’ve been an inspiration for the “wrong number” sequence in the film. The Muslims would’ve wreaked havoc if he makes the film as a direct satire. So, he concealed it under the disguise of Hinduism. The reaction of Hindus disappointed Rajkumar Hirani. He even wanted to write a book about the film to explain it. Many Muslims still support the film without understanding the central theme.

Counterpropaganda

The political analysts, neutral media, and educated people often counter the propaganda. They question the hypocrisy of the ICC group and asked them to comment on other issues. The ICC group generally avoids questions related to other religions and Islamic terrorism. If people insist, they react by name-calling, shaming, and ridiculing. They use words like Bhakts, Andhbhakts, BJP IT cell members, trolls, and anti-nationals. They also shame critics with Gaumutra jibes. The ICC group continues to support Kashmiri militants and Pakistani terrorists. They react to criticism claiming that we call them anti-nationals for criticizing BJP. But, none of them explain why supporting terrorists is the same as criticizing BJP. They abuse the Muslim celebrities who stand up for communal harmony. They couldn’t tolerate these celebrities participating in Hindu religious activities. The group criticizes the neutral media as supporters of criminals and fascists. Many people counter disinformation. But, the counterpropaganda alone isn’t enough in controlling the propaganda and disinformation.

Defaming festivals, culture, and traditions

This is the biggest campaign running against Hinduism in India. Creating a confirmation bias is an effective way to spread disinformation. It works based on the belief system of the subjects. For example, if a person likes dogs, then we can vilify another person by saying that he tortures the dogs. It can evoke an emotional response as the person already has beliefs and values. The usage of themes like sexual harassment and pollution creates a confirmation bias. The themes used in their campaigns are as follows:

Festival: Holi
Theme: Sexual harassment, water conservation
Target audience: Women, Feminists, Environmentalists
Campaign slogan: Bura mat mano Holi hai

They portray Holi as the sexist festival where men go across the streets harassing women. They made a fake theory of semen filled balloons thrown at the Delhi University campus. The ICC group spreads such fake theories and creates outrage. Their feminist groups call for a ban on the festival. Such campaigns not only create panic among women but also normalizes sexual harassment. They also request people not to celebrate the festival for water conservation.

Festival: Ganesh Chaturthi
Theme: Water pollution
Target audience: Youth, Environmentalists

The ICC group attacked Ganesh Chaturthi for polluting water. Many people advised Hindus to use clay idols and avoid artificial colors. The Hindus well-received it and several organizations came forward to promote clay idols.

Festival: Dussehra
Theme: Oppression of women & Dalits
Target audience: Women, Feminists, Tribals, Tamils, Dalits

Many campaigns are running to ridicule Dussehra. The usual festival shaming campaign uses it to tell Hindu men to stop oppressing women. The festival celebrates the feminine energy in nature and encourages gender balance. But, the campaign ridicules the festival as the only time when Hindu men respect women. This is a crude generalization that spoils the theme of the festival. Another campaign is to portray the Gods as foreign invaders and the demons as the native kings. The portrayal of Ravana as a Dravidian king killed by an Aryan prince Rama became popular. There are many fanboys of Ravana who think that he is their own. A new narrative promotes Mahishasura as the tribal king and the Goddess Durga as a killer. We will see the supporters of Mahishasura soon if this trend continues. Some feminists protest misogyny in movies. But, they follow the groups that spread all this filth.

Festival: Karwa Chauth
Theme: Oppression of women
Target audience: Women, Feminists

Karwa Chauth is a cultural practice in Western India than a religious one. There are equivalents of Karwa Chauth in other regions of the country. The pseudo-feminists may not even know it. They only see the festival as an opportunity to push their propaganda further.

Festival: Diwali/Deepawali
Theme: Air pollution and Noise pollution
Target audience: young adults, Environmentalists

Diwali is the festival of lights. Hindus celebrate the festival for the victory of good over evil. The entire country celebrates the festival and it has higher participation of kids. It’s seen as a great opportunity by the ICC group to vilify and shame Hindus. Nowadays, many Hindus are pointing out the selective outrage over Hindu festivals. Many Muslims ridicule Diwali. But, they react with murderous rage when someone criticizes Eid. The majority of the Hindus accept the positive changes as long as it’s not a part of the propaganda. There are some initiatives to help local manufacturers during Diwali.

Countering propaganda and disinformation

Many people are awakening to see the true colors of the propagandists. Some people still fall for it as it aligns with their belief system. The group brainwashed many others for decades that it became their worldview. We should identify and counter the propagandists to stop them from manipulating people. We should stop fake accounts and impersonating accounts that spread propaganda. An active inoculation is an effective option against disinformation. We should dismiss false accusations and seek proof if they make repeated accusations.

There are several effective ways to tackle disinformation. One way is to encourage people to think about the strategies used by those who create and spread them. We can also equip the individuals with our insights on such disinformation. This is also the purpose of this article as it exposes the campaigns ran against Hinduism and India. The strategies used by propagandists can help people identify disinformation. We should fight together against the propaganda and disinformation. As a first step towards countering propaganda, please share this article to spread awareness.

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Pavan Teja
Pavan Teja
An aspiring filmmaker and an occasional writer
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