The ongoing farmers’ protest has reached an unprecedented 73rd day, the farmers have borne it all, from cold waves, rain, lack of food or hygiene, and most, importantly the administration’s cold hostility. Despite all this struggle, the protest, I feel, has been influenced by several “diversions” in the form of clashes with the police, with actors reportedly masquerading as ‘farmers’, and by numerous tweets.
Rihanna’s tweet, however, stands out because, for the first time, an international global star has spoken up on a domestic topic. As a concerned individual, ‘foreign’ or ‘domestic’, anyone has the right to voice their opinion. But what, in my opinion, has been disturbing are the ‘selective’ tweets she and others have endorsed for or against this protest.
Honestly, living in India we also cannot claim to truly understand what our farmers are going true and their ground realities, so someone tweeting from the US and quoting the CNN can be anybody’s guess. Rihanna is someone whose songs I personally enjoy, and her, along with the likes of lady Gaga and Beyonce have always amplified independence and strength, irrespective to one’s gender.
Another concern for me is the presence of a ‘counter brigade’, formed of our very own film fraternity, who, after remaining silent all throughout the 70+ days of the protest finally spoke up. The barrage of rape threats, abuses, and the misogynist mindset of a large section of users who are spreading hate is alarming for me as a citizen. Have we lost the plot without being abusive and loud? There is again selectivity in this because this reaction came only after an international celebrity had tweeted.
Therefore why this selectivity? Are we, as a vibrant democracy, forgetting our ideals? Aren’t we intelligent and well-informed, and can we speak openly without being rude and hateful?
I personally would have appreciated if all the celebrities would have remained united and asked the administration to introspect. There have already been 11 rounds of talks without any leeway and without any earnest efforts, this is bound to bring disrepute to our country. People should be conscious when posting views online because the largesse given by the internet enables us to be either a crusader or an antagonist.
I personally will never ascribe or endorse a celebrity endorsement because it is usually with a motive. I can also ask why climate activists like Greta Thunberg haven’t spoken about stubble burning as a chronic problem plaguing India every year causing loss of $30 billion to our environment and emanating pollutants like nitrogen, sulphur and carbons.
As a child, I once saw a celebrity I used to follow using a hair oil I also used. I was very happy with myself only to realise later that the person wears a wig!! That incident made me realised that money and a motive is almost always involved or atleast most of the times. An article I read from The Print highlights this stating how a Canadian organisation linked to an MP in Canada was involved in designing a toolkit Thunberg had tweeted and subsequently deleted and how $2.5 million was allegedly paid to Rihanna for the tweet. This can be anyone’s guess whether it is true or not.
Ultimately, it’s the farmers who suffer. In the quest to make India a 5$ trillion economy, the government must understand that it is the farmers who play a vital role, and hence, must engage with them without any bias.
The slogan of “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” ( Hail the Soldier, Hail the Farmer) must be also in spirit and practice.