South African politician Joe Slovo had said, “It has been demonstrated that no system, not even the most inhuman, can continue to exist without an ideology.” The fundamentals of the thought behind this statement are apt, but it would be fair to apply to individuals, too. Each thought, action, and reaction begins with a person’s ideology – a collective of their mindset, the concepts they choose to believe in, and the ways they believe the world must function.
The recent Bulli Bai case has brought much of this concept into the conversation. What is unfolding to be an amalgamation of hate and crime against religious and gender minorities is beginning to speak volumes of the kinds of shifts taking place in young India. Our judgement of people, events, and circumstances should ideally stem from what we value – somewhere along the way, several young Indians seem to be joining the popular minority-averse school of thought. Opinions are verging on a commodity to be shared, rather than holding qualities of uniqueness and authenticity.
We wonder, though, what causes it to be so? Is it the influence of our leaders, who make full use of the trickle-down effect where the trend of leader-to-follower hierarchy not only in terms of policies but also opinions, is advantaged? Or is it the will to fit into a majority?
A Quick Overview: What Is Bulli Bai?
Bulli Bai (Bulli is a derogatory term for Muslim women) is an app hosted on GitHub that has collected images of Muslim women from their social media platforms (some doctored) and has put them up for auction under their own names. Most of these women, with public profiles, seem to be those that are outspoken in their views on religion, the government, and India’s society as a whole.
What Has Happened So Far?
Vishal Jha, Shweta Singh, Mayank Rawal, and the main creator, Niraj Bishnoi, have been arrested. Each of these contributors is rather young, belonging to ages ranging between 18 and 21. They are under custody and are being questioned.
Apart from Shweta, who had only applied to college, they were all in the process of studying for their undergraduate degree in various colleges.
What Can We Deduce?
There are several aspects of the Bulli Bai case that can be pondered over. Beyond the blatant carelessness, there exists a common ground of misogyny, hatred, and the need to shame others. The ideologies of the creators are deep-rooted, allowing them to go to such extents.
A Highly Targeted Crime
There is no denying that such a move stems from a place of hate toward the Muslim community, and a sheer disregard and disrespect for women. Muslim and women are the two criteria that seemed to exist when the creators decided to auction their images with intent to induce shame and fear. The crime itself stems from hate toward both these sections from society and if not hate, it is a sense of power they believe to hold over them, that makes them feel entitled to a right over them.
When Education Fails
All four individuals who have been arrested come from educated backgrounds. Can we then assume that education may not be the end-all, be-all of eradicating religious intolerance? Hate, as strong as the word and emotion is, is dictated by mindset and ideology. Degrees and good grades have little to do with the hate we carry in our hearts, and Bulli Bai is the perfect example of that.
The Print reported that Niraj was ‘addicted’ to porn, and had several lewd videos downloaded on his devices. Here, too, education fails if what one derives from porn is the patriarchal power a person believes to hold over women.
Women, but only Muslim women were targeted here. The audacity with which these pictures were put up for auction drips with the sense of a prerogative these individuals believe they hold, not in everyday existence, but over a certain community.
Of All That Technology Offers
Bulli Bai is a technology-forward concept. With skills and knowledge at their disposal, the creators of the app could have solved one of the many, many prevalent problems that exist in Indian society, but chose to channel their energy into a bigoted, spiteful venture.
The hard skills needed to execute an application are valued, and would have been appreciated in a form that may not even have added good to the world, but refrained from contributing to hate.
There is no doubt that the app is a representation of the ill perspectives many hold against the Muslim community, as well as women. Bulli Bai brings to fore a plethora of deep-rooted, intricate issues the Indian society faces, and understanding its complexity only allows us to view it clearly.
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