Singer Rihanna and a host of international celebs have stirred the hornet’s nest by commenting about the ongoing farmers’ protest in India. Their tweets brought both, trolls and supporters from all over the country. The Government of India has issued a stern warning to “outsiders” participating in issues they know little about
On Tuesday, international pop sensation Rihanna (RiRi) tweeted in support of the farmers protest in India. In her post, she shared a news article regarding the Internet curb imposed across Delhi to silence the farmers. Her caption to the post was, “Why aren’t we talking about this? #FarmersProtest (sic).”
The tweet began trending soon after, igniting a host of international reactions from celebrities, activists and politicians across the world. Then, as it is almost expected nowadays, the tweet brought both trolls and supporters from all over the world as well.
Things came to such a head that the Government of India went on record issuing an unprecedented statement and stern warning about “outsiders” participating in these discussions, while pointing out that the protests were by a very small section of farmers in parts of India.
In its statement, the Ministry of External Affairs urged the international celebs to ascertain facts before rushing to comment on the issue and to get a proper understanding of the issues at hand. “The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible,” a part of the statement read.
All said and done, given that technology has wiped out geographical boundaries at least regarding issues concerning humanity and the planet, it is natural to expect people all over the globe, celebs or otherwise, to be concerned about what’s happening in the world around them. However, political boundaries seem to exist. So isn’t it reasonable to think that nobody has any business interfering with another country’s issues, political or otherwise?
As expected many citizens expressed their thoughts on the topic, sharing them on their social media pages.
Outsiders, don’t poke your nose here
Leading the bandwagon of critics against RiRi, Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut took a jibe at the singer in reply to her initial tweet, calling her (surprise, surprise!) “a fool” and “a dummy”.
Indian cricketer Pragyan Ojha joined the war of words with his tweet, “My country is proud of our farmers and knows how important they are, I trust it will be addressed soon. We don’t need an outsider poking her nose in our internal matters! (sic).”
Television actor Gajendra Chauhan seems to have taken Rihanna’s tweet far too personally. Lashing out in a tweet, he wrote, “Mind your own business. This is my country. Don’t dare to our internal matter (sic).”
Indicating that RiRi was talking from a place that lacked knowledge, police officer and author Pranav Mahajan tweeted, “Because one should not talk about an issue about which one has no knowledge (sic).”
Indian politician Manoj Tiwari made a playful reference to Rihanna’s song Where have you been while posting a sarcastic tweet, which read, “Where have you been @rihanna ...we really need to talk about this #Rihanna (sic).”
Speaking up for humanity
However, along with the army of trolls and critics came a host of supporters, who publicly praised the singer for her bravery and for speaking up for humanity.
Webbe, United Kingdom’s Member of Parliament, also thanked the singer. She wrote, “Solidarity to the Indian Farmers. Thank you Rihanna. In an era where political leadership is lacking we are grateful for others stepping forward #FarmersProtest (sic).”
Law professor Khaled A. Beydoun, who teaches at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and is a senior affiliated faculty with the UC-Berkeley Islamophobia Research Project, also applauded the singer for pointing out the issue in her social media page. He tweeted, “Salute to Rihanna for shedding light on the #FarmersProtest in #India — she is bringing needed attention to a movement silenced by Twitter and violently suppressed by the Modi government (sic).”
“This is politics. Everyone has the right to comment on anything. If I can comment on Donald Trump’s stupidity or Bolsonaro’s wrong decisions, surely anyone from overseas can comment on the farmers’ protest. That is in the very nature of democracy, the right to dissent and the right to comment. As long as we lay claim to democracy we will have to live with the right of everyone to criticise policy and question every step this or any other government takes. Dissent is healthy. We must learn to live with it.”
— Pritish Nandy, media personality