What has led the world’s largest democracy to take on Rihanna and Greta Thunberg in an undignified twitter war? The Indian government’s response to the online support shown to India’s striking farmers by the pop superstar and teenage climate change activist show how sensitive the Modi administration is to its handling of recent farmer protests.
While the Indian government has restricted the farmers’ access to the internet in the wake of the protests, it has taken to social media to respond to the “sensationalist social media hashtags and comments ... resorted to by celebrities” with some of their own.
Whereas Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, felt compelled to respond by decrying the “propaganda,” which imperilled India’s “unity,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the most followed world leader on Twitter with 65 million followers, was content to retweet an official Ministry of External Affairs statement ending with the hashtags #IndiaAgainstPropaganda and #IndiaTogether. They have subsequently been retweeted more than a million times, including by Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.