4 min read

Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, stirred up a social media hurricane after a picture of him holding a poster of a woman that said “Smash brahminical patriarchy” went viral. The picture which was first shared by Anna MM Vetticad on Twitter, an award-winning Indian journalist, and author, was later retweeted by Twitter India.

Twitter India shared the picture mentioning that it was of a “closed-door discussion” with a group of women journalists and change makers from India. It also mentioned that “It is not a statement from Twitter or our CEO, but a tangible reflection of our company’s efforts to see, hear and understand all sides of important public conversations that happen on our service around the world”.

Soon after the picture was shared, it started to receive heavy backlash from Brahmin nationalists and users over Dorsey slamming Brahmins, members of the highest caste in Hinduism. Mohandas Pai (former Infosys CFO), Rajeev Malhotra (Indian-American author),  and Chitra Subramaniam (Indian journalist and author) are some of the prominent names who have spoken out against the Twitter Chief:

In fact, Sandeep Mittal, Joint Secretary, Parliament of India, went ahead to call the picture a “fit case for registration of a criminal case for attempt to destabilize the nation”.

This was Dorsey’s first tour to India, one of Twitter’s fastest growing markets. During his tour, he had already conducted a discussion on Twitter with the students at IIT Delhi, met Dalai Lama, actor Shahrukh Khan, and the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. It was last weekend when the picture was taken during Dorsey’s meet up with a group of journalists, writers, and activists in Delhi to hear about their experiences on Twitter in India.

Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s legal, policy, and trust and safety lead Vijaya, had accompanied Mr. Dorsey to India, and apologized over Twitter, saying that the poster was a “private gift” given to Twitter. No apology has been made by Dorsey so far.

People stand up in defense of the picture

The apology by Vijaya Gadde further sparked anger among the female journalists who were a part of the round-table discussion and a lot of others users. Anna MM Vetticad, who was a part of the picture, tweeted against Gadde’s apology, saying that she’s “sad to see a lack of awareness and concern about the caste issues” and that the picture was not a “private photo”. Vetticad also mentioned that the photo was taken by a Twitter representative and sent for distribution.

Another journalist, Rituparna Chatterjee, who was also present during the discussion, tweeted in defense of the picture saying that the posters were brought and given to the Twitter team by Sanghapali Aruna, who raised some important points regarding her Dalit experience on Twitter. She also mentioned that there was no “targeting/specific selection of any group”.

Sanghapali Aruna, who brought the posters with her talked to ThePrint about how women have been one of the major victims of the Brahminical patriarchy despite it controlling all of us in more ways than one. “The ‘Smash Brahminical patriarchy’ poster which I gifted to Jack Dorsey was questioning precisely this hegemony and concentration of power in the hands of one community. This wasn’t an attempt at hate speech against the Brahmins but was an attempt to challenge the dominance and sense of superiority that finds its origins in the caste system”.

Aruna was also greatly disturbed by Gadde’s apology as she mentions that  “Americans do not know of the Indian caste history, they can’t tell one brown person from another. But as an Asian woman, Vijaya should’ve known better”.

Public reaction to the photo largely varies. Some people slammed Dorsey and the photo, while others have stood up in support of it. They believe that the poster was a political art piece that represented India’s Dalit lower caste and other religious minorities’ demands to get rid of the gender and caste-based discrimination by the elite Brahmins.

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