Tuesday, December 6, 2022
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Rihanna’s tweet took TV news back to ’70s. No foreign criticism of India allowed

Instead of showing the BJP boast about Budget 2021, TV channels chose to defend the ‘military zone’ at Delhi borders, and attack Rahul Gandhi and Rihanna.

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Last week, the lasting image was of Delhi’s Red Fort besieged by protesters; this week it’s of nails and barbed wire. “No, this is not the Line of Control,” said Aaj Tak’s Shweta Singh. No, indeed it’s not, it’s ‘The Big Delhi Fortress’ (Mirror Now).

“Photos speak louder than words,” declared another Aaj Tak anchor and, can you blame pop star Rihanna or anyone else for being shocked by the scenes we saw on Tuesday and Wednesday?

Roads sealed with barbed wire, cement barricades “rooted in concrete” (Times Now); brick walls ringed in by deeply dug trenches, buses and trucks lined up in rows; thousands of Delhi Police personnel (some wielding steel rods), CRPF jawans — and above all, the nails.

Nails the size of spears hammered into the road, nails to “puncture” the vehicles of protesters and “their conspiracy” (Zee Hindustan) — “big nails especially sharpened so that no one can cross,” explained a CNN News18 reporter, in wonder. “Will the nails seal the agitation?” asked Aaj Tak.

Welcome to the Delhi-Tikri-Ghazipur-Singhu borders — “…you used to see this on the Indo-Pak border, now it’s here,” exclaimed NDTV India’s correspondent, carefully picking his way through the layers of security — six in total. Times Now called these “precautionary measures”, meant “to prevent any repeat of 26 January”, added India TV.

There is “zabardast security”, marvelled the Aaj Tak correspondent peering through the concertina tunnel — “The police have left no stone unturned”.

Also read: Rihanna just got a crash course on Indian democracy

Bad press

Mightily impressive as it was, it definitely didn’t look good on TV screens or photographs shared on social media. It looked like a high-security jail or a military zone — and we didn’t need Rihanna to show us that.

It looked even worse when news channels juxtaposed visuals of the barricaded roads with Bharatiya Janata Party leaders like Union Minister for Agriculture, Narendra Singh Tomar, or national spokesperson Sambit Patra making conciliatory overtures to the farmers in TV studios (ABP). The warlike mobilisation at the border — Delhi’s border – spoke much louder than their words.

And it needlessly allowed the opposition to attack the Narendra Modi government and the BJP, with the likes of Supriya Shrinate, Congress, taunting them with accusations — “Is the government at war against its own people?” (Aaj Tak).

It allowed Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait, already an overnight farmers’ hero after his tearful lament following an FIR filed against him for the 26 January tractor rally violence in Delhi, to calmly take on anchors like India Today’s Rahul Kanwal and vow to stay at the border till October if necessary.

And it allowed farmer leaders, who had been thrust onto the backfoot by the events on Republic Day, to play the aggrieved party once again and regain some lost ground: “What is happening in this country?” asked farmer leader C.P. Singh (CNN News18). “We will welcome you with nails (in the elections),” warned Pushpendra Singh, Kisan Shakti Sangh (Mirror Now). “Not even the Indo-Pak border is like this,” said one farmer to Shweta Singh (Aaj Tak).

Once more, the farmers were able to complain about ill-usage on NDTV India — they spoke of being denied water, electricity, and, of course, internet connectivity.

It also took us back many decades.

Also read: ‘Are 60% Indians terrorists?’ — Rahul Gandhi slams Kangana Ranaut over tweet on farmers

Too easily offended

Once Rihanna had posted her tweet, which included a photograph of the tractor rally at the Delhi border, news channels erupted in fury, led by you-know-who.

Republic TV charged into battle against “Twitter Hypocrisy” and this “meddling” in India’s affairs. #IndiaAgainstPropaganda saw anchor Arnab Goswami go so far as to release a statement against Rihanna on the Republic website.

The channel, along with CNN News18 and NewsX, sounded like they were back in the 1970s when any criticism of the country from abroad led to righteous indignation: “Who is destabilising India?”, “Plot to defame India”, “Is this a conspiracy?” read Wednesday’s headlines on CNN News18. In Wednesday evening’s debate, Times Now spoke ominously about “Modi Sarkar Sees Foreign Hand” – so reminiscent of the 1970s.

NewsX spoke darkly of “an anti-India lobby” which wanted to give “a bad name to India”. Then, the Ministry of External Affairs jumped into the fray with a strongly worded statement against “celebrities’’ on social media. And news channels took up the cudgels on behalf of the government: #BJP v/s GretaRihanna (Times Now), ‘Govt v/s Global celeb’ (India Today). And before we knew it, Bollywood turned up too: “Bollywood stars come out to counter Rihanna,” said India Today, highlighting messages from director Karan Johar and others.

Was this really necessary? Wouldn’t it have been wiser, more statesman-like to simply ignore a pop star and what she said? Instead, the message that went out from the continuous coverage of her tweet and its fallout Wednesday, is that we are as prickly as we ever were and still suffer from an inferiority complex.

So, instead of TV news dwelling on what everyone had acclaimed as a “Vaccine Budget” (Zee News), “Budget Booster” (Times Now), after it was presented on Monday; instead of listening to the BJP boast about its bold steps to revive the economy, we ended up listening to Sambit Patra, who had called a press conference Wednesday afternoon, defend those nails — Delhi Police’s “defensive measures’’ — and attack Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, and Rihanna.

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  1. In the early seventies, during the runup to the infamous emergency, Indira Gandhi kept howling that “foreign hand” was at work in the protests of students in Bihar and Gujarat and in the political opposition to her. As the later history showed, the political agents who worked for foreign government were Morarji Desai and Jagjivan Ram, But, it is not so now. Clearly many other countries such as Canada openly (Pakistan and China clandestinely), not to speak sundry international leftist, khalistani organisations, roping in brainless celebrities.

  2. There is a difference between criticism and paid propaganda. Criticism is welcome but false propaganda in the name of country shall be strongly repulsed. No such activity shall be accepted by any sovereign state and its citizen. As it is now in open domain that poor and below average Greta was wrongly fed by some anti India forces and Rihanna was paid $ 2.5 million for single tweet, it clearly falls with in the category of false and paid propaganda with ill intentions. It shall attract severe punishment also. Indian citizen will not tolerate such act of breaking the country in the name of criticism. you also pls stop projecting both as super celebrity as they are sold off poor girls with no mind of theirs at all.

  3. Is there any qualification required to tweet against any country or issue ? Or any slut can comment on the issue which is too much for her small brain ?

  4. Suddenly the fake news propagandist is reminded good old days where she herself and journalist like her had sold their soul for largesse and no social media was there to take on their fake narrative.

    No more FAKE NEWS is acceptable or will go unchallenged.

  5. Indians are fooling themselves if they think India is admired abroad as a rising power due to Modi. He is only admired by NRIs, specifically a section.

    Modi was a banned person due to the 2002 massacre he organised. The only person who encouraged him was Xi. Modi’s circumstances changed after becoming PM. Under Obama, the ban was lifted – as an elected PM of a democratic country. Modi basked in that for some time. Then came Trump. Modi could bask with him as well – because Trump did not care for human rights and only wanted money and Modi could give that through defence purchases and investments ONGC in Louisiana.

    However, things have changed under Biden and Harris. The US itself had a close call with fascists trying to subvert democracy. Biden’s people of Indian origin are also broadly for human rights.

    Plus, India’s economy has plummeted – since demonetisation. Nobody is going to invest in manufacturing in India. It simply does not have what it takes. India’s image as a galloping tiger economy on the heels of China was made during Manmohan’s time. Since Modi became PM, benefit of the doubt was given for 2 years, till about 2016, but after demonetisation and growth of lynchings, India has had a consistently bad press. The news has filtered to the outside world that India is a fractured society, based on fueling hate and social divisions.

    • Now congress is buying tweets from foreign so called celebrities. stand exposed. If pappu cant do anything good for ocngress then atleast they shud accept and stop selling country in the hand of their foreign handlers. greta has exposed herself in broad day light and Rihanna was bought in $ 2.5 Million. I hope now u stand correct?

    • Mr. Tod, Pity your sad life much like the fascist you despise! You are the bigot on the other side. Both parrot the same pet words in a loop with no substance to offer. Fundamentally you and a sanghi are the same if you exchange the words.

  6. I don’t know why the Govt. is fussed about Rihana tweeting on the farmer issue. Don’t they realise that she is the Yogendra Yadev of America!!!

  7. The day long coverage to Rihanna and similar persons has given them an aura far beyond their true worth . The MEA could have refrained from replying to such stuff.

  8. I have pondered over the ‘articles’ at this website by these comrades like shivam vij, this bajpayee, ruhi tiwari etc. The amount of hate that they harbor towards anything hindu and indian culture is tremendous (one should be careful and not go by their Hindu sounding names, they mean nothing). Their vitriol towards BJP, and specifically Modi is also uncanny. Only NDTV can rival them in this regard in mainstream media. I have over the last few months, many times launched an attack on their ideology and this hatred borne out of lies that they peddle. In hindsight, I would say that its of no use! They are too ideologically blinded to accept an alternate hypothesis. They cannot still accept 2014 & 2019, which is a statistical fact, how can they accept opinions? Similarly, I can say that after watching NDTV, and reading these biased and poisonous articles at Print, I have personally become even more steadfast in my ideological views and opinions. My dislike for this ultra left and fanatic ideology has even increased (if that was possible). So what is the outcome? NIL. It is just a waste of time. A colossal waste of energy. These individuals will never change, they will never accept reality. Similarly, people like me (i see many on these message boards), will never accept their untruths. They way out in my opinion is to at least stop watching & promoting this propaganda. As a first step, I personally pledge to stop wasting my precious time (all times is precious except for commies, as they are either unemployed pittance paid web coolies writing dime a dozen articles OR foreign funded to spread unrest in India) on this website. At least there will be 1 view less on this terrible, biased propaganda and deceitful machine. If this seems extreme to some, then just read the hate and vitriol in shivam vij’s rubbish (i cant call those articles). I refuse to help them by giving them any further views. Its my appeal to those who feel pained by the poison here, protect your precious time and energy! Do be the fodder for their propaganda machine.

  9. what about criticism of criticism?

    Dissidence against dissidence?

    If one is “allowed”, for the other should too it is equally true,

    Please get real.

  10. While I agree that it is best to ignore Rihanna, Mia Kalifa, Greeta Thunberg etc who are probably eyeing the 134 crore Indian market to boost their popularity, I feel that Smt Bajpai has been so busy watching local English and Hindi TV channels since 2014 that she has to time keep up what international media our luddite liberals follow – NYT, WaPo, BBC etc. Ever since Shri Narendra Modi came to power, all these and like media houses have been carrying a sustained vilification campaign against him, which stretches to anti India too. Look for example the horror stories they spun of impending death by crores during early days of covid. Much to their shock, when that did not happen, they started writing about unhygienic conditions in India that apparently gave Indians much higher immunity that the Western world. So the anger against these twitterites is only symptomatic of the anger many Indians feel about the biased, indeed racist views that they have. And oh yes, you can be a black female from US and have racist views on Indians in India. No contradiction.

  11. Let this Bimbo come and live in Delhi when the next stubble burning happens. Let me see whether she will continue to support these stupid sardarji farmers.

  12. Read Greta’s disruption “tool kit” ……. Congress President Pappu Gandhi, Sashi Tharoor and “senior journalist” Rajdeep Sardesai were all following these instructions.

    Does this mean that Pappu, Sashi ji & Rajdeep all report to Greta, Rihanna and Mia?


  13. If you have been sucked into the vortex of the government versus everybody else, this media war may make sense. If you are a dispassionate observer, it seems pretty ludicrous that a might of a nation is being used against a singer. Telling times.

  14. Mia Khalifa is another addition to likes of RG s anti-Modi brigade . The veteran anti-Modi journalists of ThePrint are requested to Google her contribution and report her contribution to worldly affairs and enlighten the readers. This VIP should also be given the proper respect which Modi s opposing personalities are showered by leftist liberals.

  15. The Print & Congress Party are already doing a fine job of criticising India & demeaning our culture and finding faults with every good thing this “fascist” Govt is doing- hence foreign critics are really not needed. What expertise can Mia Khalifa bring to The Print’s debate? Best left unsaid.

  16. Indian babu descendents still has this colonial nostalgia . The west has to approve what we do. Since the 70s we have only followed others and survived begging from the West. Not a innovation not any original indegeneous thoughts. We are cheap reapoffs of the West and we are so proud of it. Even protests has to be approved by the masters abroad even if they don’t have any understanding or stake in it.

    • And now that we have shaken off the west, what is the innovation we have made ? Gomutra and gobar science.

      ‘Not a innovation not any original indegeneous thoughts.’

      Correct, Hindutva is Savarkar and Golwalkar’s Hitlerism recycled. It is a copy of European fascism.

      • Tog – Unfortunately most like you are stuck in the quagmire of partisan politics and we will go round and round in circles. First you need to understand that innovation is borne out of necessity. For example, India’s frugal innovation which we are so proud of is borne out of necessity by the poor and nothing to do with Indian white collar workers. Indians are trained to slave the process set by the West to serve their own needs. Indian challenges are different but we copycat solutions from the West which does not even fit to our context. The West have cars and so do we. But our pollution is 10 times higher. Our innovation should have been more quality public transport and more tax on cars. US is using water resources sustainably….we use the same technology to rapidly deplete groundwater. Infact, the rich farmers are using technology and crops that is reducing groundwater to scary levels. You can win points with labelling me with Urine, Fascism, Hinduism etc. Good for you. But my point is we need to understand our own context better rather than waiting for others to tell us what we need.

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