Rumours are unverified news that spreads fast. Rumours happen every day, but there is a need for the hearers to resonate with it. If the hearers ignore such news, the rumours have no power. Sometimes rumours are just misinformation that has no evil intention. However, some rumours are disinformation – deliberately invented for causing the intended evil effects.
Rumours are transmitted by word of mouth and with modern communication gadgets it could be transmitted by SMS and other social network sites. It is an informal communication network. The modern gadgets provide capacity to multiply the messages and spread it far and wide.
Rumours touch the emotional chord in a person. Fear could be created and aggravated. That leads to collective panic and chaos. Impulsive decisions like the North East young people deciding to go back to their homes could be taken. These decisions may not be based on reasons or logic but only on emotional preferences.
The rumours that has created panic in the minds of people in many cities in India was spread with the intention of driving wedge between communities and creating a fear psychosis.
Missing in – inaction
The current crisis could have been averted if the Government was alert and responsive. Rumours rule the roost when there is no authentic and trustworthy information. Even with the Satellite televisions and wider reach of media today, the State Governments did not provide authentic information that would inspire confidence in the minds of migrants from North East India.
The role of political parties also was not there. The political leaders should have made statements encouraging the migrants to stay back and should have mobilized their cadre to reach out to migrants at the grass root level.
The people in the cities are not living in unity as communities. The people are isolated from one another because of language or culture or religion or income. These differences do not help them to accept one another as human beings, friends and as members of the same community. This lack of acceptance breeds mistrust and also violence.
Generally, the migrants in a new place tend to be hard working, diligent and loyal to the employers. The employers tend to compare the output of the locals with the migrants. This comparison leads to animosity between the migrants and locals. For political reasons, some pour oil in the fire (hatred and animosity) and spread it.
People from host cultures tend to have superiority complex also. They look down at migrants and do not mingle with them. There is an artificial divide among them. This lack of communication and relationship creates more suspicion.
Migrants flee cities
The migrants fleeing cities is a symptom of malady and sickness India as a whole experiencing. There is social divide and animosity that is not being addressed. Government is insensitive and unresponsive in terms of taking responsibility for the lives and property of migrants. The State Government did not respond immediately and guarantee the safety of the migrants. Unfortunately, the railways facilitated the fleeing migrants by providing special trains. The silence of the politicians, civil society leaders and intellectuals shows that the society as a whole is indifferent to migrants. Media has highlighted the issue but not with maturity and responsibility.
Each responsible individual could make difference. It is possible to demonstrate concern for the migrants, speak on behalf of them and encourage our friends to do so.
As Christians, we have to be role models in the city. The local church in the community should take lead in helping migrants.
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