In a welcome move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proposed to expand the definition of ‘hate speech’. The Prime Minister has proposed that inflammatory speeches made to instigate inter-regional clashes to be included in the definition of “hate speech” to maintain the honour and dignity of Indian citizens, reports Hindustan Times.
India is blessed with rich cultural diversity but certain nefarious elements seek to take advantage of India’s rich diversity by spreading hate. The likes of Shiv Sena and MNS in the past have made life miserable for people coming to Mumbai and Pune from Bihar and UP as the parties continue to practice their medieval ideology of Maharashtra only for Marathi Manoos.
Another flashpoint in inter-regional clashes came to the fore when Maharashtra and Karnataka disputed over their respective borders which prompted Shiv Sena goons to resort to incendiary speeches. In South India, a certain section continues to discriminate against the Hindi-speaking populace while in both north and south, callous words against Northeast Indians are a commonplace.
Unfortunately, such rampant discrimination and incendiary speeches are not covered under the ambit of “hate speech” and the Prime Minister has sought to expand the ambit of hate speech.
PM Modi sought an expansion of the definition of hate speech during the annual conference of state police chiefs and intelligence/investigation agencies held in December following which the Intelligence Bureau recently sent the action points to all the states and ministries concerned. PM Modi also said that while reviewing existing laws, “the objective should be to maintain the honour and dignity of aggrieved civilians”.
According to Hindustan Times, the Prime Minister was hinting at incidents such as those against people of UP and Bihar in Maharashtra, or those statements that incite the sentiments against the nation and in favour of separatism such as the Khalistan movement, which have the potential to cause inter-regional clashes, and attacks on students from the north-east or Kashmir in other parts of the country in the amended laws pertaining to hate speech.
Social Media has emerged as one of the major tools in propagating hate and the government is considering to expand the ambit of hate speech to any publication, comments on social media and cartoons, which are potentially incendiary and could cause a regional clash could also be included in the amended definition of hate speech, according to one of the officials speaking to Hindustan Times.
Such a move will put many political parties out of business and would act as a tight slap tp the hate-fuelled by linguistic chauvinists.