Politics and Instagram generation: Of memes, misinformation and whole lot of misguided youth

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— Consider reading the article Politics and Instagram generation: Of memes, misinformation and whole lot of misguided youth on OpIndia website —

Narendra Modi changed the political landscape in India in more than one way. Other than the fact that Congress, which thought ruling the nation is the entitlement of The Family, was reduced to a parody of itself, a whole lot of young people was made aware that in a democracy, your views matter.

There was no way one could remain apolitical in India anymore. Everything you did, said and shared on social media had political undertones, knowingly or subconsciously. You see, with information on your fingertips, you were consuming content. You realised the actors you like are taking political stands. Or that they are endorsing certain politicians’ views.

And then there were the extremes. Anyone questioning Congress was a ‘Bhakt’. “Why are you asking a party which is in opposition? No courage to speak truth to the power?” a ‘journalist’ would quip on social media. The same journalist will not point out to opposition that their ‘allegations’ and ‘questions’ are misinformed. Instead of fact-checking the opposition, they’d ‘question’ the government. When they’re all corrected, they indulge in name-calling and labelling. ‘Bhakts’, ‘IT cell’ and latest is ‘BJP troll army’.

Most of us have grown up watching these very journalists on their television screens in the 90s. To someone who didn’t really follow politics, this would seem like a very legit question. Journalists are supposed to question the government. But they also forget that the Opposition is actually indulging in spreading misinformation. An injured snake fights back with double the strength. Congress’ ego has been shattered. It will never be able to rise like it did before. There was absolutely no way you could’ve remained immune to the polarisation.

Some of us who have seen the Congress-era under UPA1 and UPA2 know better. However, the newer generation seems as clueless as the clown prince who wants PMship served on ready platter.

The ‘woke’ Instagram generation

The other day I was having a conversation with my 20 year old cousin, let’s call her A, who put up a post on her page, “F*ck fascism.” Normally, I don’t react to political discussions within family. But my cousin’s post made me curious. I asked her, “What happened?”

“Modi has ruined our country. A pregnant girl is in jail because all she asked was for her right to continue to be Indian citizen,” she said. She was referring to Safoora Zargar’s jailtime in Tihar over her alleged involvement in Delhi riots.

“Um, she is accused of leading a mob during riots,” I said.

“But how can you keep pregnant woman in jail?” she asked.

“She is not the only pregnant woman in jail. Moreover, pregnancy does not give one a free-pass to commit crimes, you know. Let the courts decide if she is innocent, right?” I said.

“Courts are under Modi,” she said.

“What makes you say so?” I asked.

“Look at Supreme Court. They allowed construction of Ram Mandir at demolished Babri site,” she said.

“Archaeological evidence suggests the Babri mosque wasn’t constructed on a virgin land. Plus, you do realise that the same Supreme Court did not listen to devotees in Sabarimala, right? You can’t be selective,” I said.

“But then why deny Muslims the right to stay in India?” she questioned.

I was shocked. When did this happen! When did Indian government deny Muslims the right to stay in India!

“When did that happen?”

“CAA. Muslims are also Indians,” she said.

“Umm. CAA is not applicable to Indians, Muslims or otherwise,” I explained.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, Citizenship Amendment Act is applicable to only and only persecuted religious minorities in three neighbouring Islamic countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. These countries have state religion defined. Hence, for persecuted religious minorities of these countries, India will be their natural home because of historical ties we have,” I explained.

“You’re lying. Why were they protesting then?” she asked.

“Well, no one knows. I’m sure they didn’t understand the law either,” I explained.

“But then what about Ahmaddiya Muslims?” she asked.

“Well, Ahmaddiyas are still Muslims. Further, Muslims from these countries can come and seek Indian citizenship as per existing guidelines. Just like Muslims and non-Muslims from every other country. CAA only fast-tracks Indian citizenship for persecuted religious minorities. Every one else, including Muslims from other countries, can seek Indian citizenship as per regular laws,” I explained

“And Rohingyas? Why does Amit Shah call them termites? Why does he want to throw them away? No humanity?”

“Erm, the illegal immigrants are a problem everywhere. Indian government needs to care for its citizens first. Secondly, it is only about illegal Rohingyas. The UN refugees continue to have their special status,” I explained.

“But CAA is discriminatory. Indian Muslims will be left stateless,” she argued again.

“How? If it is not applicable to them, how will they be left stateless? You really can’t be this stupid, you know,” I said.

“You’re such a bhakt,” she said before blocking me.

This is the next generation of voters. Misinformed, misguided and clueless. And while majority of the credit does go to the propaganda outlets who have got an expertise in saying ‘logical sounding’ things to influence really stupid people, part of the blame does go to the BJP. They failed to anticipate misinformation campaign. They failed to explain it to people like my cousin why they are doing what they are doing. And rest of the blame goes to the idiots like my cousin who would rather appear ‘cool’ than informed.

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