(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
It’s an alert to Modi government. It would face more and more hurdles in getting its message across to the citizens on the social media platform of twitter.
Twitter flagged a tweet by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) IT Cell chief Amit Malviya on Wednesday as “manipulated media”.
Malviya had posted a video which busted the lie of Rahul Gandhi about a policeman swinging his baton at an agitating farmer. Malviya’s video in response clearly showed there was more gap between the policeman and farmer than you have between the wicketkeeper and point fielder in cricket. Look below for yourself: Not even a blind would miss out on Rahul Gandhi’s forgery. An image could be manipulated: Not an unedited video.
But twitter beat even a blind. It came swinging out in response. Not against Rahul Gandhi but against Amit Malviya! It flagged Malviya’s as “manipulated media.”
This morning the Left-Liberal media had its bone between the teeth. Indian Express put it on front page, word-to-word a bigger story than the agitating farmers who have put a siege on the Capital. The newspaper has painted the town red.
Now I would tell you why it’s not just between Malviya and Gandhi or twitter as an arbiter. Why it should concern the Modi government. And why it should concern we the citizens.
Please bear with me a little background.
It’s 1% in control of 99% of humanity
Our world today is split between Left-Liberals and Conservatives. The first one is Joe Biden; the latter Donald Trump. In India’s context, its Congress and BJP. The rise of Conservatives—call them right-wingers if you must—is a phenomenon of the last decade. Citizens have realized that in the name of Liberalism and Globalization, the elite few have sucked the life out of majority of humanity. That 1% of the world has more money, resources and power than the combined rest 99%. That their own land, labour and resources were being usurped by the global elites who held political process, media, academia, movies etc in thrall. Who controlled all the means of information, manipulated it so that it could keep the citizenry in a matrix, uninformed and easily malleable.
But then came Social Media. The elites had thought it was just another means of controlling the narrative. But now the citizens had 140 characters and the button. People began talking. Sharing. Discussing. Lies began to be nailed. Opinions began gathering a mass. The Empire of Lies began crumbling. Citizenry began wresting control of Truth.
They hadn’t thought Brexit was possible. They ordered a referendum, secured in their ivory tower. But the vote went opposite. The media and academia had declared Hillary Clinton a winner even before the 2016 presidential elections in the US were over. Donald Trump it was though who came out beaming. Narendra Modi was called every abuse the mankind had invented. He too came out beaming from ear-to-ear in 2014. The smile became even wider in 2019 polls. People began winning against the Power.
Then 2020 beckoned. Increasingly the signs were that Donald Trump would win again. Now all stops were pulled. Social Media, a front soldier of Left-Liberals, now hit upon an idea. Twitter declared in February that it would have its own fact-finding mechanism to tell the innocent readers who is telling a lie. If being the God of Truth is the name of the Game, and if we are losing this battle of controlling the Truth in our palms, we would create a new arbiter in the game. A new God of Truth, but completely in our control.
So fact-check websites began springing all over the place. They were well-protected by the likes of Twitter. They were the “independent” voices. Nobody knows how these voices passed the credibility test of Twitter and Facebook.
The Double-Standards in Plain View: Samples
Look at Alt News in India. There are specific website and twitter accounts devoted to busting the lies of Alt News. But Alt News always gets a free pass from twitter. Look at Devdutt Pattanaik, the fake mythologist. He uses the vilest of language, words which you won’t use even in the privacy of your toilet. But he too gets a free pass. A Kapil Mishra is hauled over the coals on Delhi riots but a Sonia Gandhi, despite her “aar-paar-ki-ladai” exhortation gets a free pass. As against this is True Indology twitter account. It has suffered more sacks from twitter than India did at the hands of Mahmud of Ghazni.
This brings me to the present. In the run-up to the US presidential elections, Twitter began “censoring” president Donald Trump on his tweets regularly. When Trump warned rioters against looting during BlackLivesMatter days, Twitter called out that he was glorifying violence. The squeeze on Trump was so acute that the president with 80 million followers on twitter, blurted out in anger: “Twitter is targeting the President of the United States, 24/7, while turning their heads to protest organizers who are planning, plotting their next moves daily on this platform.”
Now keep this at the back of your mind as we come to Malviya episode. The same playbook has been applied by twitter in India as it has been doing for last few months in the US. There is an “independent” voice they rely on which decides on “manipulated media”. They have taken on Malviya because he is the bluntest of all voices in the BJP. He is the David who is slaying the Goliath of Left-Liberal lies. He takes them head-on as those who watch his encounters with Rajdeep Sardesai would vouch for. So, take him down first. Draw his teeth out. Do it to all who counter the Left-Liberals narrative strongly. If this method reaches to Narendra Modi himself, so be it. After all, twitter did take on Trump ruthlessly.
So Amit Malviya is only the start. This is going to snowball in coming weeks and months. Modi government could do what Trump had proposed just before the US elections: Since Twitter is acting like an editor on its platform, on what should go and what shouldn’t, it should be brought under the laws of the land. That twitter is thus a media platform subject to regulations, checks and balances, like every other media outlet is.
Again, I predict Amit Malviya would be a norm for other conservative voices on the platform. Unless the government tells them who is the boss here.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
(This is the second part of “If India Burns”, a grim picture of coming days, a forewarning for all of our stakeholders: Majority, minority, government, judiciary etc. No less us, the ordinary citizens. I am excluding media for apparently it couldn’t care less. The first part could be read here).
This glimmer of hope which I mentioned in the first piece has been offered by JP Nadda, Bharatiya Janata Party president, who has announced in Bengal that Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has only been given a pause due to Covid-19 and that it would be implemented once it’s over.
Let’s admit, for or against, we all were traumatized for months by anti-CAA protests. I doubt if any one of us, in any part of the country, wasn’t held up by protestors on streets at least once. Even Supreme Court came down to public relations. No solution seemed feasible. Until Coronavirus intervened.
Now Nadda has thrown a challenge: Government isn’t backing down. Maybe, the Centre feels it won’t be taken by surprise. Maybe it feels it now knows how to deal with trouble-makers. Or with their chorus party of European Union, US Congress and the UN. “Urban Naxals” are facing the heat in our Courts; Khalids and Zargars face years in jail; Yogi Adityanath has worked out how to name and shame etc, etc.
But does the Centre know enough of how the “trouble” would respond? Have they got, as they say in cricket or in war, all their bases covered? Have they kept a watch on how protests have shaped in Hong Kong and Bangkok, not to say in the United States during BlackLivesMatter anarchy?
In Hong Kong and Bangkok, these are leaderless protests. No forewarning like you got in JNU, Jamia or Shaheen Bagh. A flashmob gathers and before the anti-riot police could bring in their water cannons, they are holding fort somewhere else, a fluid crowd as it were. “Be Water-like” is the guiding principle. Authorities could never be on top of their game.
So these days, they communicate in close offline chat. If it’s WhatsApp in India, it’s Telegram in our South Asian neighbourhood. You get detailed messages on how to pack and where to assemble. There is now goggles, umbrella, masks, sun-creams, water bottles and of course helmet in your backpack. Youngsters in their “rebel” age are enthused to be part of a converging, swarming mob of youth. They get overcome with emotions. To hell with the cause. The hide-and-seek with the police has its own thrills and a sense of accomplishment. Your friends are going, what are you waiting for?
Leaderless yes but it’s not to say that this ProtestNext generation is devoid of symbols. A “Milk Tea Alliance” has sprung up in our neighbourhood of Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Its aim is to spark protest across Asia: Like they did with “Arab Springs” in MENA (Middle East North Africa). Topple governments, cause anarchy and bring the region to its knees as Middle East presently is.
Milk Tea Alliance is around Thailand’s orange-hued tea; the less sugary Hong Kong version of the drink and Taiwan’s boba tea. The plan is to garner youth, swamp societies, create mayhem.
They have created their own characters too: animated ones like Milk Tea Girls which are emblazoned on T-Shirts of various colours and sizes. Youths who are not part of this fluid mob nevertheless wear it to show solidarity. Suddenly 100s becomes 1000s and that into tens of thousands. It’s on top of everyone’s head.
Then there is this three-finger salute (see image above). This has been co-opted from Thailand’s Hunger Game movie series. This gesture is for people, by people, from people who are facing injustice that the “protestors are in sync” with them. That they are all speaking for each other.
The drawn face-off first time in India would be different this time. The showdown is inevitable, more so since Modi government wouldn’t backdown what the Parliament has authorized and the Constitution demands. India’s protestors, while they vouch for democracy, sanctity of Constitution and supremacy of judiciary, would junk it in every action they do. So would our discredited politicians and prepaid media. It could be CAA one-day, farm bills next day and a Hathras next.
It would take some effort from the Modi government to be on top of its game: Nigh impossible in states like Bengal, Kerala, Rajasthan and Punjab where law and order is in the hands of Opposition: Much like in the United States where largest violence and loot during the BlackLivesMatter protests happened in states controlled by Democrats. BJP won’t junk CAA, an assertion of its raj-dharma, but it would need to think on its feet: Its police, cyber cell, intelligence and enforcement agencies need be bigger in numbers, resources and resolve. That alone would douse the fire if India Burns which seems inevitable.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
We don’t trust our police. Most would say they are brutal and corrupt. There is nothing new here. You talk to your parents and grandma. It would be no different.
So when a father and son were allegedly beaten to death by cops in Tamil Nadu last week, the outrage was instant. It would’ve passed too if our newspapers hadn’t kept it in our face. Indian Express, for instance, is reserving its Front Page to the story for last five days. Be sure, it would be no different in coming days.
This jells with the present mood. None of us have forgotten Jamia and JNU. George Floyd and BlackLivesMatter are ongoing. Hong Kong is still on boil. Who knows, an immolation here, a custodial death there, shattered stores, burning buildings, graffiti and youths hoisted unsteadily on shoulders could transform it into something completely else. Anarchists, you see, have had enough of this “pause” induced by the Wuhan Virus pandemic. Tragedy in Tamil Nadu is the perfect “Wrecking Ball.”
Police would again make headlines. They would be told to uphold law yet not step on to the Liberty of citizens. It’s a delicate balance asked: Criminals after all don’t own up over a coffee. Batons alone are no answer to violent protests. Next stage is damning images in media. Police freezes; protests grow. Mobsters join the fun. Peaceful protests are now violent riots. Suddenly EU Parliament, UN Human Rights and US State of Department are interested. And you would forget it all began with the police.
Police is the face of democracy. This is the first line of its defence which anarchists target. There are enough funds in their coffers, and multiple evidence to suggest, that it works. All you need is your men in street protesting and a bought media to keep stoking the embers.
This media would bring you stories about a school teacher, math enthusiast, “sheros”, yoga fanatic, brave widow, grandma-on-wheelchair who are risking self so that democracy lives. Months-old kids dead, who could only suckle, are “martyrs.” Volunteers, worthless otherwise, have front page pics. Running kitchens in sit-ins is always community-driven. Never mind, their newspaperwala hasn’t been paid for months. Your media would never question their funds. Wad of millions, we must believe, have been gathered overnight by the unyielding spirit of India.
This never fails. It didn’t fail in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen where rulers were forced to cede power and we the fools celebrated it as Arab Springs. Or in the “Maidan” coup in Ukraine. Or in countless Latin American countries. Or in Eastern Europe. Or in Africa. Anarchy, you see, pays. And a democracy is a sitting duck. More so when a society is as diverse, divided and politically infested as India is. A largely young nation who bristle in their youthful innocence are just playthings in the palm of India-breakers.
Mature democracies know the peril. Thus, you have police in the United States which is quasi-military. They even have private police for informal action not subjected to judicial review. They have been treating anarchists as terrorists for over a century. French believe that society must get precedence over the individual in order to fence the democracy. Judiciary acts likewise. Citizens are told the limits of Liberty. Police have powers denied to citizens.
India is different. It has only 125 police officers for every lakh of citizens; one of the lowest police-people ratios in the world. Vacancies are not filled because states don’t have the money to spare salaries what to say of pensions. Police stations are in shambles. Do they have the men and money for tech crimes which work without boundaries or distance? Or to snoop without being accused of breaching the privacy?
There is little doubt police needs to mend itself. But it needs be done at a local level. Turning it into a national outrage, with media as tool of anarchists, is handing India on a platter to its enemies. We all have to make a choice: Between individual and society. For the larger good, we need to empower and not weaken the government.
Modi government has never needed tougher laws more than now. It must not be afraid of being called “fascists” or “nazis.” We have enemies out there who want to Balkanize India. We need to empower and not weaken the police. On it hinges the fate of our democracy. As Abraham Lincoln famously said: A government must not be too strong or too weak for its people.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
If riots are the moment which sank the bobbing mass, be fairly sure that Donald Trump would not only float but sail to the promised land of US re-election this November.
Indian elites and movie stars might hold placards of “BlackLivesMatter”; Europe might erupt in enraged fury at the racial injustice; mainstream media might soil their pants in outrage; and the biggest brands might shut their shops in solidarity but the voting masses are pissed as events are unfolding.
Long after riots die down, all that would remain in voters’ memory is arson and looting; those images of goons emptying stores, big and small; shops gutted; properties ablaze; owners beaten to pulp; videos of Manhattan’s luxury shopping district, shut and looted to the last store.
This is the last thing voters would condone, reeling as the little man is at drying income, lost jobs, deaths in family and neighbourhood and a pandemic which is arguably the biggest enemy the United States has faced since being formed in the 18th century. There is a swell of anger which of course escapes the Big Media, by accident or design, since they love burning decks splashed on their front pages. Psychology doesn’t bring readers. The national cost of one cop’s knee on an unfortunate man is already sky high.
There is enough evidence on the crime scenes to correlate that riots were fabricated as pre-delivered bricks hurled in burning cities were identical; that it has happened mostly in states led by Democrats; and the resultant curfews lacked the will to enforce its maxims. The removal of statue of Robert E. Lee, the defender of Virginia capital from being looted and burned, would hurt millions. And no opportunity is being lost to stress that George Floyd had a criminal record and was suffering from ailments.
It hasn’t helped that “knee-on-Floyd” moment is largely drawn from the Israeli copybook methods in which the US Police is trained. Both view protestors as enemies and employ aggressive restraining measures. Kids as young as five-year-old are handcuffed; teenagers are pushed to sink to their knees. It won’t help matters now that the police in US is getting on one-knee to show that they are sorry. A common man values law and order above everything: even over racial divide which is institutionalized in memory and practice in the United States.
The United States inherited the black slave trade; they didn’t start it. They were born with it. And they never learnt. It was history’s curse. Over time, Blacks were taught that Whites were to be hated; White arguably owned up some guilt. As an analyst drily remarks: “People don’t employ people they hate to look after their children, cook their meals, run their households, and people who hate don’t perform these tasks for those they hate.” It’s flying in the face of logic to assert that Whites and Blacks don’t function together in their lives.
And that’s exactly fake sympathizers of “BlackLivesMatter” are doing. Nike and Adidas have run long campaigns in support; Spotify ran an eight-minute and 46-second track of silence across its playlists and podcasts as a “solemn acknowledgement for the length of time that George Floyd was suffocated,” L’Oreal shed tears; and Apple mourned with “Blackout Tuesday.” Interestingly, none of these multinationals have one black face in their command centres. NOT ONE. This is true of 46 out of 50 top brands originating from the United States.
In India, Bollywood bimbos have gone to town on “BlackLivesMatter” even as they pose for fairness creams ads in dozens. Indians, right from Mahatma Gandhi onwards, have reserved only contempt for the Blacks. So embarrassing was Gandhi’s views on “Kaffirs” that before he left South Africa in 1914, he burnt all his archives of such damning literature. We have umpteen attacks on black students in the Capital and its suburbs. It’s hypocrisy at its most vile.
Trump of course wouldn’t let go this moment. His quotes “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” is the right kind of noise voters want to listen. His anti-China stance, contrary to one of Joe Biden’s free trade philosophy, is already a head-start. Now the riots would bring the voters’ anger to the brim. Worse, it could lead to a renewed burst of Corona numbers and deaths. After all, these riots are mostly in those 25 hotspots where the pandemic has cast its deepest spell. A worsening Corona in these districts, controlled by Democrats, would play into the hands of Republican Trump.