IIM-B faculty appeals to corporate India to de-fund the spread of misinformation through news media

The faculty stressed that though they would like to believe that the risk of large-scale violent conflicts or genocide in India is still small, this risk is no longer close to zero

IIM-Bangalore building (photo: iimbuddy.in)
IIM-Bangalore building (photo: iimbuddy.in)

NH Digital

A few of the current and retired faculty members of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIM-B) have appealed to corporate India to de-fund the spread of misinformation and hate speech through news channels and social media. They urged corporate India to stop funding hate, and to support responsible stakeholders and using their voice for the fraternity.

In the letter, the faculty highlighted that over the past few years, an open and public exhibit of hatred towards minorities in public discourse has become common practice in India in political discourse on television news and on social media to use dehumanising language while referring to minorities and it has reached alarming levels.

Acts of violent hate crimes, often by organised and radicalised groups, against minorities have seen a rise.

The inaction of police and security forces during recent communal riots, as well as the acquittal or pardoning of culprits involved in rape and mass murder during previous instances of riots, coupled with the silence of authorities, has signalled a glaring level of complacency in place of urgency by the government.

These trends also concern corporate India, as they point towards an increasing risk of violent conflicts in the country. In the worst case, such acts of violence could culminate into a genocide, which would annihilate the social fabric as well as the economy of the country, casting a long dark shadow over India’s future. Corporate India, which hopes to reach new frontiers of international growth and innovation in the 21st century, cannot afford to live with even a small possibility of such a scenario.

The faculty stressed that though they would like to believe that the risk of large-scale violent conflicts or genocide in India is still small, this risk is no longer close to zero, as the rapidly increasing levels of radicalisation of citizens are fermenting an atmosphere conducive to large-scale violence being triggered due to unexpected disturbances.

Even if India does evade such a risk, it is certain that the deteriorating social fabric in the country, due to increasing hate and dehumanizing speech and radicalization, shall inevitably lead to escalating violence and socioeconomic uncertainty, permanently paralyzing the future of the country.

“We believe that maintaining peace, stability and cohesion in the country is of paramount importance to corporate India without which India cannot become an economic powerhouse. The leaders of corporate India have an important and substantial role to play in curbing the spread of hate and misinformation,” read the open letter.

They appealed to corporate India to:

1. Stop funding any and all news and social media organisations that publicly air hateful or

genocidal content against a community of people.

2. Conduct an internal audit to ensure that their funds, in forms like advertising or donations, go to only such stakeholders, like news and social media organisations that conduct themselves responsibly, and not fan the flames of hate and misinformation.

3. Mandatorily conduct timely diversity and inclusion sensitisation events within their organisations to ensure their work culture remains welcoming to people of a variety of faiths and social backgrounds.

4. Vocally ensure that India’s diverse social fabric, public discourse, and democratic institutions remain strong.

This appeal by the IIM-B faculty comes close on the heels of a broad coalition of over 35 civil rights and interfaith organisations in the United States, UK, Australia, Canada and India having sent a letter to Thomson-Reuters, urging the media agency to terminate its partnership and investment in the Asian News Agency (ANI) due to its Islamophobic reporting and dissemination of pro-Hindu nationalist government propaganda.

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