The farmers' protests in India is currently a movement of dissent and the demand for rightful needs. It started as a movement for the restoration of the basic farmer rights, and as a protest against the three farmer laws. Now, it has turned into a movement that has witnessed the violation of human rights, especially by the ruling government. While several celebrities in our countries were completely silent about it, it certainly has gained international attention.
It started with global icon Rihanna who shared a CNN news article on Twitter on 2nd Feb 2021. She openly questioned why this issue has not been highlighted enough.
This sparked a wave of support on the internet. Several international personalities, including singers Jay Sean, activist Dr. Zeus, Greta Thunberg, and former adult star Mia Khalifa, joined hands with pop star Rihanna. They extended their solidarity for the Indian farmers who are protesting against the unjust laws of the government.
US Vice-President Kamala Harris's niece, Meena, also tweeted condemning the massive internet shutdowns by the government. "It’s no coincidence that the world’s oldest democracy was attacked not even a month ago, and as we speak, the most populous democracy is under assault. This is related. We ALL should be outraged by India’s internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters.," Harris tweeted.
American blogger Amanda Cerny displayed her support on Instagram. She called for the recognition of the dignity and human rights of farmers’.
She even addressed the fact that how famous celebrities refuse to speak up against the government. They fear that it will impact their personal and professional lives.
As a reaction to all this, the Ministry of External Affairs did try their hands at some damage control. Through a tweet, it tried to elaborate again on the need for these laws. The ministry's official spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava, reiterated that "these reforms give expanded market access and provided greater flexibility to farmers."
This tweet by the MEA prompted several Bollywood celebrities, cricketers, and the fraternity to respond. Most of them who were silent so far about all the proceedings in the farmers' protests posted tweets about their sudden realization about India’s sovereignty. All of these tweets trended in sync with the government hashtags aka #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda
This solidarity and support on the international platform was a moment of mixed reactions by Indians. While millions applauded this international support, several spoke in averse of it.
Several Indians began commenting and questioning the knowledge of these celebrities on our “internal issues.” They felt it unnecessary that an international icon voiced a rightful question. Some propagandistic agendas were built up so high, that these celebrities were projected as paid supporters of the opposition and people fighting for the farmers' movement.
It got extremely hostile and sickening when several right-wing individuals started adopting racist and sexual comments on these celebrities. It was used as a way to combat their incompetency to answer these genuine concerns raised. They brought up Rihanna’s history of domestic violence, mocked Greta’s Autism, and character assassinated Mia.
The main purpose of these tweets was to create awareness about the farmer crisis. This movement has undergone various dimensions. Several journalists have been unjustly arrested, and farmers have also been exposed to brutality. They have also been a target to the vested opinions of those against the protests, especially during the 26th January incident. Following these days, there have been rampant internet shutdowns and the blocking of public social media accounts that were actively covering the protests.
“The Indian authorities’ response to protests has focused on discrediting peaceful protesters, harassing critics of the government, and prosecuting those reporting on the events,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
Thus, these tweets by international celebrities were also to establish that repeated violation of human and civil rights by the government is unjustified. It does extend beyond the sovereign boundaries of a nation and does classify as a global issue.