In the last couple of days, we have seen a full-blown social media battle after American pop sensation Rihanna put out a tweet asking, “Why aren’t we talking about this? #FarmersProtest.” Since then, netizens have been talking about the tweet and a bit more, as the singer brought international attention to the farmers’ protest taking place in India.
When Rihanna tweeted, many BJP supporters including actress Kangana Ranaut lambasted her for tweeting about India’s “internal matter”. Some supporters went to the extreme level to tweet that Rihanna was being paid to tweet about the farmers’ protest and is a supporter of the Indian National Congress, Pakistan and even Khalistanis.
Twitter hit a new low when some netizens hailed singer Chris Brown for assaulting Rihanna in 2009. However, Rihanna was not the only victim of the social media attack. Teen activist Greta Thunberg, former adult star Mia Khalifa and vlogger Amanda Cerny also faced hate for supporting the farmers’ protest.
However, a large number of netizens began trolling BJP supporters, BJP’s IT Cell, and even Kangana Ranaut for attacking foreign celebrities’ tweets supporting farmers, thus beginning a social media war between “Bhakts” and “Liberals”.
However, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) soon stepped in, sharply reacting to tweets by foreign celebs supporting farmers’ protest. The MEA put out a statement saying, “A few of these vested curiosity teams have additionally tried to mobilise worldwide help towards India. Instigated by such fringe parts, Mahatma Gandhi statues have been desecrated in components of the world. That is extraordinarily disturbing for India and civilised society all over the place.”
The MEA statement led to another round of trolling with many alleging that anytime people abroad criticise or raise concern on issues taking place in India, the central government would immediately object saying that these people should not interfere in internal matters of the country. It is not the first time that the Centre has asked foreigners to refrain from interfering from India’s internal matters. When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the first to raise concern regarding the farmers’ stir in December 2020, the MEA had protested against Trudeau’s comments and said, “Such comments are unwarranted, especially when pertaining to the internal affairs of a democratic country.”
Things turned murkier when many Indian celebrities, who kept quiet about the farmers’ protest, suddenly started tweeting against ‘foreign propaganda’ after a plethora of international celebs, NBA players, athletes, activists and politicians also began tweeting about what is taking place in India. Suddenly, Indian celebs from all fields started retweeting the MEA’s statement and posting similar tweets with hashtags #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropoganda, thus turning social media into a war zone. While some fans of Indian celebs are retweeting and supporting them, a few are alleging that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) IT Cell is behind the tweets of Indian Celebs.
A lot of Indian netizens expressed disappointment over Indian celebrities and athletes for suddenly tweeting against ‘foreign propaganda’. Many called them out for keeping quiet and not supporting the farmers’ protests for so many months and now suddenly tweeting when foreign countries raised concern. Meanwhile, many netizens are “unfollowing” Indian celebrities for tweeting MEA’s statement. Such netizens have gone to the extent to allege that Indian celebrities are “lacking a spine” as they cannot speak for themselves.
However, American vlogger Amanda Cerny understands as to why Indian celebrities are silent on the farmers’ protest. While responding to one of the comments on her Instagram post on the farmers’ protest, Cerny said that celebrities “don't want to hurt their business by speaking their mind. Careers can be ended as it’s all so political”.
There are few Indian celebrities who have come out in support of the farmers like Taapsee Pannu, Priyanka Chopra, Sonam Kapoor, Diljit Dosanjh, Swara Bhaskar and athlete Vijender Singh to name a few. Taapsee also responded to the #IndiaAgainstPropoganda campaign.
By the looks of what is taking place, it is difficult to say as to when the social media battle will end. However, it must be noted that the focus from the primary issue — farmers’ protest against the three contentious farm laws — should not be diverted.