Farmer’s protest has been the talk of the town. They are braving chilly temperatures demanding to repeal the 3 farm laws, they believe will shrink their incomes and put them at the mercy of private corporates.

Nothing got this protest the desired attention on international fronts until February 2, 2021. It took just one tweet to offer a view to the theatre of the absurd.

Whose tweet shook the internet putting the spotlight on farmers’ protest

The tweet came from the popular American pop star – Rihanna. She took it to Twitter urging her 101 million followers to talk about farmers’ protest in India.

Her message circulated like a wildfire generating behemoth traction. The hashtag #FarmersProtest started trending in most countries making it a dinner table deliberation everywhere.

Hours after the singer’s tweet, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and the United States Vice President’s niece Meena Harris also tweeted support for the farmers. This only accelerated the momentum that Rihanna has ignited.

What followed Rihanna’s Tweet?

The Indian Government was enraged without a doubt.

The Ministry of External Affairs (“MEA”) with their two hashtags, #IndiaTogether” and “#IndiaAgainstPropaganda”, made an official statement stating “Before rushing to comment on such matters, we would urge that the facts be ascertained, and a proper understanding of the issues at hand be undertaken. The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible”.

This response from MEA raised eyebrows as there is long-standing norm whereby the MEA only reacts to statements made by the top Foreign Ministries, Presidents, Prime Ministers and others alike. Questions were asked as to why MEA thought it necessary to retaliate and make this exception of responding to these social media influencers, Rihanna and Thunberg. 

Political stalwarts, Bollywood celebrities and elite cricketers declared Rihanna’s tweet as a direct attack on India’s unity and were seen urging their followers to not sway with the windstorm created by foreigners.

On the other hand, Poetic Justice Foundation, the Canada-based organisation, was alleged for creating the ‘toolkit’ that was tweeted and then deleted by Greta. Although, the organisation has made a public statement denying paying money to Rihanna, Greta or any other celebrity in instigating the matter of farmers’ protest. The government is closely looking into the matter.

Celebrities’ influence on World Politics

Celebrities have a blind following. Pictures of Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan at the voting polls tend to create an instinct in many to go and vote. That’s awful but true!

The relation between the Stars and politics is tight and very closely intertwined. Their advocacy on any issue has a deep political and global impact.

World celebrities like Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Amir Khan, Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, Meghan Markle, etc. with conscientious, credibility and strong campaigning work in civil rights are likely to be even more influential.

According to research conducted by the University of Maryland, Oprah Winfrey is believed to have brought about a million votes in favour of Barak Obama during the 2008 elections. Even the re-election campaign of Narendra Modi had many top-notch Bollywood faces. Their influence do have a potential to flip the political dynamics.

Pros and Cons of celeb influence

Social media is an independent body having the talent to create or change our opinions. When that is paired with celebrity touch it becomes a full powerhouse.

This influence can be good only if it is independent of any political or allied agenda. It has so far been a boon in raising awareness towards world issues like climate awareness, racism, vaccination programmes, terrorism, systematic patriarchy, etc.

Contrarily, it has also been observed that this influence has, at times, led to more damage than good. The attack on the United States Capitol is one such classic example.

Celebrity stature comes with great moral responsibility. They are expected to exercise their power judiciously and voice their opinions with utmost caution and for the greater good.

Currently, there are no legislation or treaties guiding or controlling the behaviour of celebrities. Would it make a difference if such laws were made? or Would it serve as an attack on the fundamental human right of ‘Freedom of Speech’?

Events like Rihanna’s vague Tweet on Farmers’ Protest and Attack on United States Capitol rings an alarm highlighting the need to find a solution for such celebrity induced disruption.