INDIA: Social Media’s answer to Shiv Sena

ADRIAN NARAYAN WRITES– Can online declarations of love defeat real-world violence and intolerance? A few thousand Indian and Pakistani social media users are trying to find out. Connected by a mutual concern about the current state of Indian-Pakistani relations, internet users have been posting photos of themselves and short statements of peace and fellowship on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

In recent instances of hate against Pakistan by the Indian far-right regional political party, Shiv-Sena’s imposed extra-legal ban on Pakistani artists, writers and sports personnel has caused an international social media campaign amongst the rising tension between India and Pakistan.

On October 22nd, Indian activist Ram Subramanian started the hashtag campaign #ProfileforPeace. According to the Times of India, Subramanian was irritated by the recent incidents targeted towards Pakistani artists that were shunned by Shiv Sena activists in Mumbai. Taking a selfie and posting it to Twitter with the note, “I am an Indian. I am from Mumbai. I don’t hate Pakistan. I am not alone. There are many people like me!” has led to a viral trend.

Thousands of Pakistanis and Indians based in India, Pakistan, US, UAE and the UK took to social media to upload pictures with their face and a love note with their location, that they don’t hate each other and the fact that they’re merely being divided due to hate politics. This viral trend continues to this day as Indian and Pakistani social media users post personal notes of respect.

Indian and Pakistani politicians know what a bad tweet could do to their political career. And as India surpasses the Unites States as the second largest population in terms of smart phone users, Indian and Pakistani politicians should play close attention to the voices of the digital generation.  The growing messages for toleration in the form of notes and profile pictures may have caught the attention of only thousands, but another viral trend may catch the eyes of millions.

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