India’s ruling Hindu right wing is using doublespeak

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

The right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that presently leads the coalition government in India and its ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), are frequently accused of a politics laced with hypocrisy, deceit and doublespeak. Both frequently speak and act in ways that prove their critics right. This should not be surprising from a party that pretends to be the exact opposite of what it really is. It participates in India’s democratic process even while remaining rooted in an ideology and organization—the RSS—wedded to the authoritarian agenda of turning secular India into a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu State).

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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