I wasn’t planning to comment on Indian politics on this blog, but that changed when Rihanna tweeted in support of protesting farmers and was promptly smeared by Prime Minister Modi and his Bollywood goons.
Time to do, “Work, work, work, work, work.” Listen Mr. Prime Minister: Don’t fuck with Rihanna or you will feel the wrath of the Renegades Logbook.
(VARIOUS DISCLOSURES: I am a U.S. Citizen traveling through India, my grandparents were in farming, and I have a life-sized artwork of Rihanna up in my condo in Boston.)
Okay then, before I get into details of the Farmers Protest and Rihanna drama, here’s a little primer on PM Modi for my readers outside of India:
Who is Prime Minister Narendra Modi?
- Elected Prime Minister in 2014, Modi is a right-wing nationalist Trump-wannabe who degrades minorities such as Muslims and Sikh farmers to gin up his Hindu religious base.
- He is a lifelong, career politician who wears a brown vest and white beard to look like a commoner, while plastering his image up on giant taxpayer-funded posters across India.
- He is a creepy grandfather figure who married a 17-year-old girl as a young man and then abandoned her, refusing to acknowledge his wife’s existence even as he became prime minister.
- Modi has eroded free speech in the world’s largest democracy by jailing political opponents, journalists who report the facts, and even a Muslim comedian for speaking out against the government.
What’s with the Farmers Protest and Rihanna?
Hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers have camped outside Delhi for the past several months protesting a new law supported by Modi, which they say would funnel their farm profits to rich capitalists.
Many have been injured and jailed by Modi’s government during their protest, and the prime minister has not once addressed the farmers directly.
I was in a cafe in New Delhi when the government cut all Internet service to silence advancing farmer-protesters as they clashed with police. Data service on my cellphone and Wi-Fi on my MacBook both went dead at the same time.
That’s some North Korea shit.
Worse, no one around seemed to be particularly troubled by the situation until Rihanna came to the rescue, tweeting to her 101 million followers:
Rihanna was quickly trolled and slut-shamed by Modi supporters in Bollywood and the world of cricket, with some haters calling her a Muslim and a porn star (really … both?)
Modi’s government put out a statement dismissing Rihanna as a “foreign individual … trying to enforce their agenda on these protests.”
Why aren’t young Indians campaigning against Modi?
When Donald Trump was in the midst of his reign of terrible incompetence, it seemed that everybody and their sister was getting involved in politics in the U.S. I certainly worked my ass off to elect some anti-Trumpers to office before leaving.
But I don’t see many young people involved in politics here in India, or even speaking out against Modi online … though many will do so in private.
WHY? Indian youth hold a general view that politics is so corrupt here that it’s not possible to get involved and make a difference. Also there aren’t many campaigns hiring young people as they do in the U.S., and furthermore, most young Indians are in poverty and can’t afford to volunteer their time. Many Hindu-nationalists in the villages do support Modi.
ALSO FEAR: A young woman I met in a hostel told me she considered running for municipal office with a pledge to clean up things in her hometown, until she was told she would be kidnapped.
These fears may have some standing, but succumbing to fear plays into the hand of Modi’s despotic patriarchy. If no one thinks they can make a change, than nothing will change, and the bastards will win.
Rihanna is a pop star from Barbados, a former British colony in the Caribbean West Indies, which lies halfway around the world from Delhi. If she can take on Modi and help the farmers, surely young Indians can too.
Well, that’s that, and there goes my visa extension request.