A screenshot is doing the rounds which purportedly shows a Navbharat Times report claim that ‘Hinduist’ organisations have objected to the PFI hate parade in Malappuram, Kerala. In the said rally, men in RSS uniforms were paraded in chains to mark the ‘centenary celebrations’ of the Moplah Massacre.
Navbharat Times published a ‘fact check’ on the matter, much like India Today, to say that the men in RSS uniforms were not actually RSS members. The ‘fact check’ goes to the extent of claiming that the uniform does not actually represent RSS members but symbolic of ‘fascism’. It further says that the objective of the demonstration was to oppose religious discrimination.
Much like the India Today ‘fact check’, the objective of the NBT ‘fact check’ was clearly to whitewash the toxic bigotry of the PFI. But the ‘fact check’ has gained traction on social media for other reasons as well. Prominent social media users have pointed out that the ‘fact check’ makes use of a problematic word ‘Hinduist’ to describe those opposing the hate parade.
सब @NavbharatTimes के पाठक यह जान कर खुश होंगे कि इस अख़बार ने हिन्दू समाज के प्रति घृणा उतपन्न करने वाली PFI प्रदर्शन का समर्थन किया है। नवभारत टाइम्स ने एक नए शब्द का प्रयोग किया है — 'हिंदुइस्ट' — जो 'इस्लामिस्ट' और 'जिहादिस्ट' से मिलता-जुलता है। घृणा अब पत्रकारिता है। pic.twitter.com/RrA8x3wYkz— Kanchan Gupta (@KanchanGupta) February 20, 2021
It was alleged that Navbharat Times invented the word ‘Hinduist’ that closely resembles words such as ‘Islamist’ and ‘Jihadist’ in order to paint the Hindu community and Hindutva oriented organisations in negative light.
The word ‘Islamist’ is used to describe fundamentalist sections of Islamic society that nurture and encourage deeply harmful opinions. The word ‘Hinduist’ could easily then be understood by people as those sections of Hindu society that advocate values that run contrary to the ethos of a pluralistic society.
The truth, however, is not as it seems.
As it turns out, the actual NBT report was written in Hindi. In Hindi, the report uses the word ‘Hinduvadi’. When one uses Google Translate, the word ‘Hinduvadi’ is translated into ‘Hinduist’.
Thus, it appears that a Google algorithm translates ‘-vadi’ as ‘-ist’ in the absence of any clear direct English translation. We performed a check on Google Translate to evaluate our hypothesis and we made some interesting discoveries.
For instance, ‘Bharatiyavadi’ is translated to ‘Indianist’.
‘Yadavvadi’ is translated as ‘Yadavist’.
‘Hindivadi’ is translated as ‘Hindiist’.
However, ‘Gandhivadi’ is translated as ‘Gandhian’. Thus, it appears almost certain that Google translates any word without a direct English translation containing ‘-vadi’ to ‘-ist’.
Thus, while NBT is guilty of publishing a deplorable ‘fact check’ to whitewash the PFI hate parade, it is not responsible for inventing the word ‘Hinduist’. Nevertheless, while it is the work of a Google algorithm, the concerns raised by people on social media, that the word could be used to further spread Hinduphobia, remains legitimate.