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Role of Wikipedia in Communal India
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- Abstract (in about 300 words)
Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia where anyone can have free access and even contribute to its existing contents. Wikipedia is very active and popular in India. This online encyclopedia is a great example of the freedom that the information technology makes available for us. Wikipedia these days is a platform that we quickly approach for information regarding any subject. First, it’s free. We have to subscribe foe getting access to many other online encyclopedias. But we can use Wikipedia for absolutely free. Its major financial source is the contributions that people across the world voluntarily give to it.
One of the major reasons behind the low expense behind the running the Wikipedia is that anybody can contribute to it. Which means the writers and editors of the Wikipedia articles are usually not paid. Usually it is subject experts that write for most of other encyclopedias including the Encyclopedia Britannica, whose popularity is fast diminishing these days.
They would have an editorial board and research team consisting of the experts on the subject. They all are paid, not working voluntarily.
Wikipedia’s functioning style is different. It’s largely liberal. This leaves spaces for people to do mischievous interferences into it. Pieces of information may not be correct and objective. One can find articles in Wikipedia hat have been influenced by politics, religion, culture and specific ideas. However, Wikipedia instructs that the entries shouldn’t make unnecessary provocations. It also demands references/ sources for any piece of information added.
The fact is that if you have a strong network of committed individuals, you can easily manipulate the articles in the Wikipedia. You can virtually control any entry relating to the subject. You will get a better idea of this if you closely monitor articles relating to RSS. For example, if you enter anything negative about the organization, within hours someone or other would enter counter information into the article. If you
If you read an article discussing the Sangh Pariwar, you would easily find that most of the entries in the article have been made some Sangh sympathizers, and not by an objective expert on the subject.
At the beginning of an article about RSS says that the Sangh embers were active in many socio-political movements including the country’s freedom struggle. It further says that the Swayam Sevaks takes active participation in natural calamities and for the rehabilitation of its victims, and that the Sevaks are running more than one lakh of social welfare activities.
The article admits the argument that RSS is accused of many violent activities, but it then presents counter narratives, quoting RSS sympathizers.
To disconnect RSS from the assassination of Gandhi, the article interestingly quote some commissions’ reports stating that RSS is not directly involved in the incident. It presents some negative comments about the RSS founder Hedgewar from the Britannica, giving an impression that the article may be written in an objective manner. But immediately the article ‘balances’ these statements with some other ieces of information taken from the same encyclopedia.
You can also see that the article about Vishwa Hindu Parishad is also written by someone with sympathy for Hindutwa ideology. The article doesn’t discuss the violent nature of the organization.
A similar approach can also be seen in the articles on titles such as Savarkar, Ramsethu, Hindutwa, Hindu Nationalism, Indo-Pak Partition, Golwalker, Somnath Temple, Cultural Nationalism, Uniform Civil Code and Cow Killing.
An idea that Vir Savarkar (this itself is a Hindutwa term. An objective encyclopedia is expected to use his original name, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar) propagated during the beginning of the 20th century got strengthened with the Rajiv Gandhi government taking initiative to pass “Muslim Women Protection Bill” in the parliament.
Another incident that strengthenedthe ides of Hindutwa has been the demolition of Babri masjid in 1992 by Hindu nationalists. The article heavily rely upon an RSS book to present the basic principles of the Hindutwa.
The article also quotes M. S. Golwalker and H. V. Sesadri. One can easily identify the nature of the article with this. The article claims that the author Conrard Est answered historians who wrote against Hindutwa ideology.
Est is a third rate anti-Muslim author who came to India and wrote book staying in Delhi with RSS support.
The article on ‘Indian nationalism’ begins with baseless argument that the idea of Indian nationalism was derived from the Hindus alone. It argues that the idea of Indian nationalism existed even during the ancient times. The allegation of ‘mass Hindu killings’ by Muslim rulers has also been tactically inserted in the article.
The Sangh influence of the author(s) is evident in the article on ‘Cow Killing’ too. What could be the source of the argument stating that “non-Hindus are eating cow to show their dominance over Hindus”?
One who reads the Wikipedia article on 'Bajrang Dal’ would feel that the organization is a group of heroic patriots who fight against “Muslim-British occupation”. Though the violent actions of the organization are mentioned at some parts of th article, the core of the article remains positive about the outfit.
The allegations over the objectivity and accuracy of the Wikipedia contents get wider as the platform completes 15 years of existence.
A major criticism which many share about the platform today is that a group of people could upload and control articles on specific subject(s). They could also challenge any entries which go against their ideas.
The vested interests, national, political or religious interests, any other ideological leaning of the editors and top administrators of the encyclopedia do also appear to influence the articles.
Interested attendees and comments
--Sidheeq (talk) 15:04, 23 July 2016 (UTC)