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Virtue Signalling and the right wing

Often some people on the right wing engage in virtue signalling by using equivalence in talking about some events or ideas. In this case, Hindol Sengupta talks about crimes (including murder) by cattle smugglers, and brings in the issue of what is called cow vigilantism.

HindolSengupta (@HindolSengupta) tweeted at 5:25 AM on Wed, Jan 23, 2019:
Day after day policemen and villagers are being murdered by cattle smugglers in India. This is a heinous crime, as heinous as cattle vigilantism. Yet, we barely hear about this – though cattle smuggling is multi-million dollar, murderous crime in India, one that is on for years.

He gets called out by Swati Goel Sharma, who has written articles, through ground level reporting, on the subject of cattle smuggling, and how it has created serious disharmony in the societies that are affected.

Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) tweeted at 9:21 AM on Wed, Jan 23, 2019:
How do you say it is AS heinous as cattle vigilantism? You think they are equal in terms of scale, frequency and barbarity?

Vigilantism happens when the law and order machinery fails to prevent crimes that affect the society. There was a case in Nagpur where a large bunch of women lynched a man in the premises of a court, because he was harassing them in a colony of slums, and the police did nothing to act against him. Furthermore, as Sharma points out, the crimes by cattle smugglers are quite brutal and frequent.

Sengupta should have realised that Sharma is a serious reporter and would know what she is talking about. But, in a virtue signalling mode, it is sometimes difficult to absorb the different perspective that is offered.

HindolSengupta (@HindolSengupta) tweeted at 9:22 AM on Wed, Jan 23, 2019:
In the nature of the crime – violence leading to unnatural death, i.e., murder. Tragic.

Sharma brought the discussion back on track.

Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) tweeted at 9:31 AM on Wed, Jan 23, 2019:
That makes it comparable to any other crime. Even sporadic violence over car parking disputes.

Sadly, Sengupta persisted in the virtue signalling mode. He could have said, particularly considering whom he was in discussion with, that he does appreciate what Sharma was saying. Instead he tweeted:

HindolSengupta (@HindolSengupta) tweeted at 9:33 AM on Wed, Jan 23, 2019:
Not really – as both have one thing in common, cattle.

Sharma had to explain further.

Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) tweeted at 10:46 AM on Wed, Jan 23, 2019:
Data on vigilante violence includes large no of cases where farmers resisted theft of their own cattle. It’s Economic loss. So not the same thing. Also, heard of a vigilante killing smugglers by tying to cots, chopping off tongue n throat? Anyway, I differ with you here.

And that is where the conversation ended.  Right wing has always had a solid scholarship and intellectualism as an integral part of their programmes. I have written on the subject in an article that is available at:

The main point that I have made in it is that an organisation that has been in continuous existence for more than 90 years, often being confronted with active state opposition, cannot take its work forward only with emotionalism. While the idiom used to explain the intellectual content may not conform exactly to the academic standards, the content itself is still solid. When this is understood, the actions of the Sangh and the so-called right wing will be better appreciated.

(Ashok Chowgule is the Working President (External) of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bharat)


Not a part of the conversation with Sengupta, but I hope he has seen this tweet by Sharma:

Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) tweeted at 4:27 PM on Sun, Jan 27, 2019:
A farmer in Mahawad on how he could hardly sleep earlier when armed smugglers had a free hand and brazenly took away cattle from houses. After crackdown by Yogi Govt, situation is much better

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Ashok Chowgule
Ashok Chowgule
Working President (External), Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bharat.


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