How #IndiaTogether became top trend after Rihanna's tweet on farmers' stir
Twitter has been abuzz with celebrities - both India and global - posting about the farmers' protest in India. While the international icons like Rihanna and Greta Thunberg tweeted about "standing in solidarity" with these protests and starting a debate around them, those at home said "external forces can be spectators but not participants".
The point highlighted by Sachin Tendulkar and other Indian celebrities was 'let's stay united'.
The buzz started after Rihanna's tweet, and led to trending of two hashtags.
The Twitter storm started after a tweet by international pop icon Rihanna who posted a news article about the suspension of internet at sites where farmers are protesting. "Why aren't we talking about this?!" she said adding #FarmersProtest hashtag.
Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg too joined in saying “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.” She also used the same hashtag. She also posted a toolkit for those who want to amplify the issue of farmers' protest in India. The toolkit - link to a document - contained plans about January 26 protest and other planned stir across the globe.
After uproar, she deleted the post and tweeted an update.
But by this time, several Indian celebrities lashed out at the Rihanna, Mia Khalifa and others and called for staying united.
The government's response
As the issue gained prominence, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) issued a statement to highlight that Parliament of India had passed "reformist legislation" for the agricultural sector, which "a very small section of farmers" have some reservations about and therefore the laws have been kept on hold while talks are held.
It also said that some vested interest groups have tried to mobilise international support against the country. "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," the MEA said posting the statement alogn with two hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda.
Many cricketers and other Indian celebrities quickly used the hashtags to show their support to the government and propagate the message of peace.
"India’s sovereignty cannot be compromised. External forces can be spectators but not participants. Indians know India and should decide for India. Let's remain united as a nation. #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda," tweeted Sachin Tendulkar.
The current captain of the Indian cricket team also used the hashtag and said farmers are an integral part of our country. “Let us all stay united in this hour of disagreements. Farmers are an integral part of our country and I'm sure an amicable solution will be found between all parties to bring about peace and move forward together. #IndiaTogether,” he tweeted.
Many other cricketers and sportspersons - like PT Usha, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, and Hardik Pandya - also used the same hashtags.
The list of ministers and BJP leaders
Several ministers also reacted to the international criticism of farm laws, saying it was part of an international propaganda.
"No propaganda can deter India’s unity! No propaganda can stop India to attain new heights! Propaganda can not decide India’s fate only ‘Progress’ can. India stands united and together to achieve progress. #IndiaAgainstPropaganda #IndiaTogether," tweeted Union home minister Amit Shah.
"Motivated campaigns targeting India will never succeed. We have the self confidence today to hold our own. This India will push back. #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda," posted foreign minister S Jaishankar.
"Times are changing. Influencers on the digital media platforms have immense power when they talk to their followers. One must be mindful of that power and the responsibility that comes with it. #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda #GenerallySaying," tweeted Union minister VK Singh.
"For 1000 of years India was defeated, occupied, looted & ruled by the invaders not because India was weak but there was always a Jaichand. We need to ask who’s behind this international propaganda to defame India. #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda," said Union minister Kiren Rijiju.
"We stand together. We stand United against all attempts to malign India through propaganda and fake narratives. #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda," BJP chief JP Nadda said on Twitter.
How the trends started
The two hashtags were first posted by the MEA on its Twitter handle along with the statement it issued on tweets from international celebrities.
Though it is rare for the MEA to react to such things, but it has pushed back against leaders like Justin Trudeau on farm laws.