Post Rihanna Episode, How Will We Ever Say ‘Padharo Mhare Des’?
What went down since Rihanna, Thunberg tweeted about farmers' protest is a reflection of our despicable selves.
Do I really have to explain the context here?
One tweet from Rihanna and a country of 1.39 billion focussed its energies on how to deviate attention. Mind you, the fire-fighting backfired and what we have now is a cause for embarrassment.
Rihanna, Greta Thunberg, Meena Harris, Mia Khalifa...the names can go on and on now. Many in the US, a very close ally of India, have woken up to the farmers' protests that have been going on since almost three months now in Delhi. This came after CNN carried a story on internet services being suspended in parts of the capital. The headline of the piece read, "India cuts internet around New Delhi as protesting farmers clash with police."
But what went down on Indian Twitter circles, on Indian news channels after these women chose to speak up, is now an image that will take years to wash off.
Perception of Indian Govt Right Now?
Here are the headlines from two very popular international media platforms.
The MEA released a statement trying to put forth various arguments we have heard since the protests started. The template was THE same. The MEA stated that although the government had offered to put the reforms on hold, it is “unfortunate to see vested interest groups trying to enforce their agenda on these protests, and derail them.”
“This was egregiously witnessed on January 26, India’s Republic Day. A cherished national commemoration, the anniversary of the inauguration of the Constitution of India, was besmirched, and violence and vandalism took place in the Indian capital,” the statement read.
But might I ask, for a government that's stood tall and constructed barricades making the capital's borders look like a fortress, what did we achieve with this statement? The message we sent out was how human rights violations and police brutality are acceptable. Added to that, the MEA went on to criticise celebrities and others" for their "neither accurate nor responsible" comments.
Adding to this was the storm of tweets that followed and some comments that can make one feel like they are living in a dark comedy. For instance, Kapil Mishra alleging that the document initially shared by Greta Thunberg are evidence of "international plans for attacks" against India.
Yes, Thunberg did tweet and promptly delete a document to gather attention for farmers' protest, but really...is that an "attack" against India?
*I am embarrassed for you*
Mind you, she tweeted an updated version as well. Surely someone orchestrating an "attack on India" will do this. Hmm...
A Show of Weakness, Much?
Activists from United Hindu Front took to streets to burn posters and effigies of Rihanna, Great Thunberg and Meena Harris. They were seen holding up signs that read Rihanna, hosh mein aao (Rihanna, talk sense).
Remember when we were young and we fought with our siblings or had a war of words with someone, we would find ways to vent out our anger? This wasn't far.
The incident led many on social media to ponder over the international commentary we are inviting on ourselves as a nation.
Indian Twitter Turned Vile
Needless to say, the three women were mercilessly trolled on social media. Our very own, 'Queen' of opinions Kangana Ranaut called a global pop star a "fool" and an environmental activist a "brat who just wants to skip school".
Right-wing trolls raided. It went to the extent of lauding American Singer Chris Brown for the abuse against Rihanna for which he was sentenced in 2009.
Trolls shared pictures of Rihanna's bruised face and wrote, "Chris Brown did nothing wrong."
Many from the troll army also went on to say that Rihanna deserved the hate and threats. A woman who has risen as a top icon with over 100 million followers on Twitter making her the fourth most followed celebrity on the platform, was being questioned for her status. Don't we love to question women? Well, Rihanna doesn't just enjoy followers on social media.
Her accolades include nine Grammy Awards, 13 American Music Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, and six Guinness World Records. Forbes ranked her among the top ten highest-paid celebrities in 2012 and 2014; as of 2019, she is the wealthiest female musician. And we're only glad she chose her platform to talk draw light to a protest that's only gotten worse in the past three months.
Not just this, every time there's a woman in question, we *love* to sexualise them and strip them off morals. Indian media carried reports of how Rihanna spent money at a strip club. Not just this, Mia Khalifa, former adult star, was subject to lewd commentary on Twitter and new channels.
India's Islamophobia on Display?
It's sure not a coincidence when the search for 'Rihanna Religion' and 'Rihanna Muslim' shoot up RIGHT after she tweets about Indian farmers protest in the heart of India.
Our Hobby? Asking Women to Shh...
As the MEA released the statement and Twitter continued to troll these women, Indian celebrities (who are mostly silent spectators to everything), on the other hand, rose to the occasion to embarrass themselves.
Many including the likes of Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Hema Malini, Anil Kumble went on to post identical tweets using the hashtag '#IndiaAgainstPropaganda' talking about the India's sovereignty, unity, democracy and our internal matters.
Despite the hate and threats that flooded their accounts, Meena Harris, Mia Khalifa and Greta Thunberg carried on.
Meena Harris, a lawyer and Kamala Harris' niece, has been unrelenting with the support she has offered to the farmers' protests in India. Even after she was trolled for speaking for the movement, she continued to call out those resorting to immature display of contempt.
Greta Thunberg also continued to voice her opinion despite the deplorable poster burning in New Delhi. On 4 February, Delhi Police said that it has filed an FIR against the creator of a certain 'toolkit'. Many alleged that an FIR was filed against Great Thunberg. Special CP Ranjan said, “The Delhi Police has registered several cases against those handles which have been pushing either fake news or spreading some kind of rumours for the purpose of disaffection and ill-will. In the process… we have come across one particular document uploaded on a social media handle on a particular platform. This toolkit has a particular section which talks of digital strikes through hashtags on and before January 26, tweet storms from January 23 onwards, physical action on January 26, and asks one to watch out or join farmers’ march into Delhi.”
The logic of finding links with Thunberg's tweet, Khalistani elements and 26 January's events is one that only Delhi Police can explain. But the teen activist stood strong...
There was a time when you could stand in a foreign crowd and talk against the innumerable stereotypes India was subjected to, for example being a poor country and one with snake charmers. But how will you stand and defend what has been mocked and commented on international level? It won't be wrong to say that the news items that emerged in the past few days would have us labelled as a country of sexist and fascist individuals with no respect for basic human rights or peaceful protest.
India's tiny ego, a patriarchal society that want to silence women and cries "shut up" when someone from tries to show a mirror from distance -- the Rihanna/Thunberg/Harris episode taught us all.
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