New Delhi: A social media campaign, spearheaded by prominent right-wing personalities accusing Wikipedia of being ‘anti-Hindu’, began trending Saturday, three days after the open-source information website asked Indian users to donate to “defend Wikipedia’s independence”.
Several users on Twitter, including columnist Shefali Vaidya, BJP leader Nupur Sharma and author Rajiv Malhotra, asked people not to donate to Wikipedia, alleging that it spread biased information and employs “anti-Hindu” editors.
India is one of Wikipedia’s most important markets. In 2019, over 700 million Indians visited the website.
Several users on Twitter claimed that the Wikipedia page on Northeast Delhi riots, which occurred in February, was biased and described the riots as “chiefly Hindu mobs attacking Muslims”.
The page also notes that of the 53 people killed in the riots, “two-thirds were Muslims”.
Another much-cited instance of bias was the website’s page on the slogan ‘Jai Shree Ram’. Many Twitter users took offence to the page describing the slogan as the BJP’s “war cry”, “for perpetration of communal atrocities against people of other faiths”.
Several prominent right-wing personalities took to Twitter to protest against Wikipedia.
Former Rajasthan Cricket Association secretary Sanjay Dixit and Hindutva activist Dr David Frawley, a Padma Bhushan recipient, also joined the campaign and urged people not to donate to the website.
Wikipedia is also asking for donations from Indians, including Hindus.
So Hindus, make sure you do not donate a penny to this Hindumisic entity. pic.twitter.com/r36V3VRuwT
— Sanjay Dixit ಸಂಜಯ್ ದೀಕ್ಷಿತ್ संजय दीक्षित (@Sanjay_Dixit) August 1, 2020
Wikipedia has published many questionable statements about Hindu writers, leaders, causes and historical issues. Is not an unbiased forum. Hindus should protest against its anti-Hindu views. https://t.co/U6TCt6QgcC
— Dr David Frawley (@davidfrawleyved) August 1, 2020
I’ve seen this “donate” msg pop-up multiple times. My own personal experience with @Wikipedia? During Delhi Elections 2020 a well-meaning contributor warned me multiple times that my page was under severe attack to be taken down by an opposite ideology camp. And it did happen 1/2 https://t.co/HHZjwvLqWu
— Nupur Sharma (@NupurSharmaBJP) August 1, 2020
In response, many people also came out in support of Wikipedia, and said information on the website is taken for granted and must be supported.
And, this is why we need to support @Wikipedia!
Brahmins hate knowledge spreading! Concealing resources, denying education and punishing for learning is an age-old Hindu culture.
— Kiruba Munusamy (@kirubamunusamy) August 1, 2020
Author Rajiv Malhotra was trolled incessantly after he claimed that he had been criticising the website since 1990s. Wikipedia was launched only in 2001.
— SamSays (@samjawed65) August 1, 2020
Wikipedia’s appeal for donations
Wikipedia issued an appeal on 29 June, asking Indian readers for donations to help “defend” its independence.
“If you donate just Rs 150, Wikipedia could thrive for years,” read the message, displayed on top of the website.
Wikipedia depends on donations to continue operation and pay staff, and this is the second time that the website has urged Indian readers to donate.
The Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the website, had earlier asked Indian readers for donations in 2015.
However, some users on Twitter also questioned if Wikipedia, in fact, required the donations. A long thread on the issue claimed that while the website functioned on donations and needed them, it was not desperate for funds, citing the “high” salaries paid to its employees.
So, it's that time of the year again when Wikipedia asks people for money. But do they really need it? How much of it is used to keep the site running? And where does the rest of it go? Read on to find out. pic.twitter.com/IEIHPW6qLD
— Rick at 🏡 (@RickterScale_) August 1, 2020
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.