Searching with keywords such as “anti-national,” “sedition,” “patriotism,” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai” on Google Maps now directs the users to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), which is caught in a row over its students being booked under sedition. This is not a case of Google taking a political stance, but rather because of a growing number of articles that link the two terms.
This is something that Gadgets 360 explained earlier when Prime Minister Modi’s picture showed up when searching for “top 10 criminals” last year. As we noted then, these results are generated through algorithms and not by any individual or group.
However, this is not something that everyone seems to realize. The students of the university, who have been agitating against the alleged “branding” of JNU as “anti-national” after three of its students were arrested in connection with an event, have taken strong objection to the “technical certification.”
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“We will raise the issue with the administration to send official communication to Google in this regard. We have been protesting against the branding of an institution as anti-national, and now the search giant has gone a step ahead in certifying that,” JNU Students Union Vice President Shehla Rashid Shora said.
Since last month, Jawaharlal Nehru University has been in the news over an event against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised. Three students – Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, and Anirban Bhattacharya, were arrested in a sedition case, kicking a national versus anti-national debate across the country. They are now out on bail.
“When I noticed this on Google Maps, I laughed at it. But when I thought of it, it seemed dangerous. Dangerous not because it represents my university but because anyone or institution can be termed so through government and MNC’s power. Will Google Maps be answerable for this?” another student N Sai Balaji said.
A Google spokesperson said only that “we are aware of the issue and are working on a fix.”
A JNU faculty member, who did not wish to be named, said, “Though we have strong objections to JNU being referred to as anti-national since Google Maps is throwing the same results for patriotism and Bharat Mata ki Jai as well, it could be a technical glitch too.”
Last year, the users were directed to the White House when they searched for the keyword “nigger house,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name was reflected in search of top 10 criminals. In both cases, Google had apologized to them for the technical errors.