Sunday, December 05, 2021

Kimmel at Oscars and Gurmehar on Ramjas: The contrast in how protests are received

The reaction of the public at large on the violent and threatening reaction to a peaceful protest speaks volumes about the culture of protest in India and the even more ironically the ‘acceptability’ of forms of peaceful protest.

Written by Kanishka Singh | New Delhi |
Updated: June 18, 2020 3:02:31 pm
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Halfway across the globe from India, the 89th Academy Awards kicked off on Sunday grabbing limelight across the globe. India was not untouched, though social media in India wasn’t abuzz with conversation about the goof-up on stage. It was witnessing something similar though diametrically opposite in the way it was received. The most popular topic on social media in India was Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur and her entry into the politically controversial public space in the country.

WATCH |Gurmehar Kaur Withdraws Save DU Campaign: Here’s What Happened

Oscars 2017 opened to talkshow host Jimmy Kimmel unleashing a no-holds-barred tongue-in-cheek presentation. He took repeated digs at US president Donald Trump and the prevailing racial and ethnic prejudice in the US now fanned by pro-hate policies. “Maybe this is not a popular thing to say, but I want to say thank you to President Trump. I mean remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?” he started. He even mentioned actor Mel Gibson and Scientology hinting at the controversial history of his privately owned church’s pro-anti-semitic stand. It wouldn’t have appealed to every American’s pallette, but his tweets criticising Trumps obviously prejudiced views and executive actions got record numbers of engagements.

Meanwhile, in India, LSR student Gurmehar was the subject of public ridicule and rape threats on Facebook and Twitter for her posts against war between India-Pakistan and also one slamming ABVP. Celebrities trolled her, politicians patronised her, public at large reduced her to just a martyr’s daughter. At a protest in Delhi University organised by ABVP members on Monday, members of the group criticised her actions as politically motivated for links they claimed she had with Left student group AISA.

WATCH | What Gurmehar Kaur Had To Say On The Issue

The two events happened in the span of 24 hours and when seen together, it appears mature political debate and respect of views is not a reality in India. Freedom of speech is a much debatable topic in India. However, just a few seem to embrace the concept of respecting someone’s right to have their views. Imposing the popular perception of what is right on people’s views, taking away the right to question, forcing people to toe the politically correct version of the truth, being forced to speak politically correct words — these are all but a violation of a person’s rights to think and exist as a normal human being.

The maximum Trump may do is a public outlash at Kimmel or a set of self-righteous outbursts on the twitterverse. The minimum Gurmehar is being subjected to are graphic threats of rape. She has been provided police security after a series of threats and has gone into a protective web.

WATCH VIDEO | Virender Sehwag Tweets Following Kargil Martyr’s Daughter’s Anti-ABVP Post

The reaction of the public at large on the violent and threatening reaction to a peaceful protest speaks volumes about the culture of protest in India and the even more ironically the ‘acceptability’ of forms of peaceful protest.

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