BengalCombating HateEducation

Student troll to Muslim teacher: Are you teaching to make bombs?

New India needs to learn how to tackle digital populism to counter hate, says social scientist Shiv Vishwanathan

Kolkata: Just a day after the nation celebrated Teacher’s Day, an educator in Kolkata was repeatedly trolled during his YouTube Live class.

The teacher, Mohammad Shahnawaz of S Nawaz Tutorial, sporting a beard and a skull cap was teaching Cost & Management to his students. When a student started posting comments like: “Are you teaching to make bombs?” “Jai Shree Ram”.

The teacher in the video is seen confronting the student. He tells, “I am not teaching to make bombs but how to do well in exams. Don’t spoil the name of Ram and Hinduism by resorting to such acts.” He is also heard telling the student to follow the true teachings of “Maryada Purushottam Ram” and that he should learn manners, following which he says, “Let’s not waste time and move ahead with the class.”

eNewsroom contacted the teacher, after he shared the video on a social media platform. On being asked if this was the first time that he had faced such trolling during online class, he said, “This was something new for me. But other teachers from my coaching centre have been targeted earlier.”

On being asked why he chose to reply, instead of ignoring and proceeding ahead with his Live session, he said, “On several occasions we have deleted the comments and have chosen to ignore. However, during this live session, I felt that this could no longer be ignored and so tried reasoning it out with the person commenting.”

So, will the rebuttal stop the trolls? “That I am not very sure if this will deter him. The present political scenario is making it easy for people with a certain ideology to target ‘others’. But, I presume such intolerance should not be entertained.”

Shahnawaz, is not the only online tutor, who has been targeted in recent times. Avad Ojha, a UP-based online educator, was also trolled for his political ideology. This too was done during one of his live sessions.

According to a 2022 study conducted by Brussels-based European Center for Populism Studies, “Overall, our analysis has shown that civilizational populist digital authoritarianism in India has recently become more prominent.” The analysis further adds, “In India, hate speech, false news, and misinformation shared on social media have been linked to increased violence and hatred towards non-Hindu religious groups.”

Talking to eNewsroom about this – acts of hate being enacted within school premises or online classes, Social Scientist Shiv Viswanathan said, “Welcome to the age of digital populism, where there is no respect for norms or rules. Academia has lost its control in recent times. Teachers have been devalued and almost anyone can get away with anything.” He then added, “This is a dangerous trend, as there are no referees here. Mobs can be called from anywhere and the police appear to be equally clueless when it comes to tackling such cases.”

So such trends are here to stay or how they could be countered, he said, “Not much can be done till we study electronic communication in-depth. The rules and laws that we have are outdated to counter the havoc that digital communication is unleashing upon us. And we don’t have the imagination to counter it.”

And perhaps he has a point because the head-on confrontation didn’t stop the student from coming back to the Instagram account of Shahnawaz saying – “Magar Bhai tum bol kyu nahi dete (sic)”.

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