Developing counter-narratives by promoting non-discrimination, tolerance and respect, including through awareness-raising activities is an essential remedy to hate or extremist speech. ORF will organise and conduct a challenge for higher educational institutions to help students develop and execute campaigns and social media strategies against extremism that are credible, authentic, and believable to their peers and resonate within their communities in India.
Counter-speech is a common, crowd-sourced response to extremism or hateful content. Extreme posts are often met with disagreement, derision, and counter-campaigns. Combating extremism in this way has some advantages: it is faster, more flexible and responsive, capable of dealing with extremism from anywhere and in any language and retains the principle of free and open public spaces for debate.
We enlist higher education institutions to participate in a semester long challenge. The students of each institution will develop a social or digital media initiative, product, or tool to push back on extremism. They get to identify what extremism means to them on their campus, community, country, or globally. We give them a budget of INR 40,000 and USD 200 in Facebook Ad credits to implement their campaign so they actually have financial resources to make their campaign happen.
Students will decide which target audience to develop their initiative, product or tool. Is it the at risk, silent majority (typically people who do not speak out against extremism), is it the uncommitted population which research indicates has a higher probability of radicalising as they explore their searching for identity phase, or is it civic minded students who will galvanise around important issues of the day and create movements against extremism?
Higher education institutions in India
The programme will be semester long and will continue throughout Spring and Fall of 2018.