Rihanna vs. Republic of Indian North Korea
Rihanna, Greta Thunberg and a few other influential global celebrities put out a tweet calling for attention to the farmers protesting against the New Farm Laws passed in India and the entire BJP/RSS/Indian government propaganda machine comes into power play mode, amplifying the government's POV. The government's statement released on the Ministry of External Affairs twitter handle stated that “facts have to ascertained” before making “sensationalist social media comments..especially when restored to by celebrities..is neither accurate nor responsible”.
One starts to wonder, why do the tweets of a private persons trigger the government of a sovereign nation? What is it that the government fears that simple pointing of a fact culminates in a full fledged propaganda campaign that is ironically hash-tagged #IndiaAgainstPropaganda?
The problem is that of image perception. In India it is easy to silence critics of the BJP government with paid trolls and TV journalists. Coordinated smear campaigns and plain old intimidation work, which makes it easier for the government to control the narrative. But with Rihanna's 100+ million twitter followers it is hard enforce control as it would prompt global scrutiny that the Modi government cannot bully or bulldoze over. The BJP government knows that the easiest way to get out of this soup is to play its favorite the nation is under attack card which has proven its potency in the past years. By making simple criticism an issue of National Security, the BJP government invokes both paranoia and patriotism to deflect the attention of its citizens while muzzling its critics.
Whether it is the near coup attempt in the United States or the actual coup in Myanmar, voicing out one's opinion is a matter collective responsibility that goes beyond the allegiance to a State. The BJP government behaves as if there is nothing that it does that warrants criticism. On paper and in propaganda BJP is the best thing that has happened to India, period. Anyone that criticizes any of its policies or political high-handedness is an anti-national, a comic insinuation when it was first used and now a very valid threat. India is not some kind of magical superpower where everything is hunky-dory, the mythos that the BJP sells is ignorant, egoistic dreaming, a political acid trip for the weak.
For now we found a small opening in BJP's self-inflated armor: relentless international criticism. For a government that is lauding itself to be atmanirbhar (self reliant) it definitely is behaving like a narcissistic lover needing a lot of external appreciation. The country is riled up and that the farmers who are protesting against corporatization of Indian agriculture are seen as terrorists, traitors and every other identifier except as farmers. The way to reverse the narrative for now is to put the focus back on them and deny the narcissist the positive attention they demand.
As for Rihanna, Cheers, I'll drink to that