Like every other day, while my colleague and I took our regular chai-sutta break at office, I told him about the government’s recent proposal of bringing a legislation that will make it illegal to delete your WhatsApp and personal messages from your phone for a period of 90 days. He threw sarcastic looks at me and asked, “How much free time does Modi have for all these things?” We burst into fits of laughter and mocked the government for the series of bans it has come up with.
While driving back home in evening, the remark “How much free time does Modi, our honourable prime minister and his cabinet have to impose such bans?” kept buzzing in my head.
Alright! Let’s first try to analyse what it takes for the present day government to impose a ban.
First, a list of things which need to be banned must have been made by the party’s ideological partner in consultation with its shakhas, mandals, samitis and Delhi-based think tanks, usually headed by a highly educated intellectual or a successful bureaucrat.
Then, the name of the “to be banned-item” from the so called wish list would be finalised and sent to 11 Ashoka Road for implementation following a legal procedure.
Now, the actual political procedure would begin.
The legislations for the “to be banned item” for BJP-ruled states and Centre will be drafted meticulously. The necessary pressure groups, mostly religious organisations and regional political parties are convinced to support the legislation in the states and Centre.
Once the groups and parties supporting the legislation are on-board, a broader narrative in support of the “to be banned item” is prepared. The legislation usually defies the very essence of a democracy but interestingly fits into the broader idea of “Akhand Bharat”
Then, a group of well-articulated English and Hindi speaking leaders from the party will be briefed about the ban and be sent to various news channels to present the narrative and defend the ban.
Meanwhile, the likes of Arnab, Sardesai and Barkha will try to decode the implications of a ban in their prime time shows. Multiple opinions and a variety of articles on the same will be found in newspapers, blogs, tweets and Facebook posts for weeks. Then on, some blooper will happen, say in the live news shows, where those like Sakshi Maharaj, will get the spotlight only to express their vague opinions in support of the ban.
Not only this, extensive public relations via social media and WhatsApp will follow such media debates.
There will be some pro-ban content in different forms out there that will leave you with no option but to like it. If you choose to ignore it, good for you but please don’t you even dare to express your opinion against it. An army of millions of bhakts is waiting there to wage a war against you on Facebook and Twitter. If you enter into a war with them, the modus operandi would be something like this. Having carried a long argument with you if you happen to object to the ban, these self-proclaimed “moral policemen” will brand you as a Cogressia. If that doesn’t work to cut short your argument, they will call you Aaptrd. If you still managed to not lose your sanity, they will brand you as a “presstitute” and “sickculariste”. If you are a reasonable person, who accommodates with the views of your opposition, you will stop your argument at this point. But if you know what you are talking and are absolutely sure about your facts, figures and arguments, you will probably be ready for this shit coming on to you.
If you have dared to stand by your argument still, they will go to the extent of branding you as a “Pakistani” or an “ISI agent”. Targeting your religion will be the next straw. If you have developed a hippopotamus skin to counter the arguments, then run for your life. They might end up making you live your worst nightmare. From the screen, they will appear outside your house and screw your happiness.
And don’t you ever, if I put in Arnab’s words – “Never ever- Never ever…” dare to be critical of the ban on the Facebook pages and Twitter handle managed by their bhakts. Try doing so and they will make your life hell.
But yes if you praise the ban or Modi, your comment will get hundreds of likes and positive reviews. And if you want to be the most liked and talked about person on certain pages, go ahead and write “Pakistan ki maa ki *** ” or “All the Muslim are *** ” and by evening, you will be a rockstar. This, even if Pakistan or Muslims have got nothing to do with the status, ban or argument.
If you don’t believe me, go and check Facebook page likes on The Frustrated Indian and Cyber Sipahi. The most liked comment on these pages will be from either of the two mentioned categories.
The next will be the video clips and long text messages on WatsApp, explaining why the imposed ban is good for India.
Interestingly, if you carefully analyse the content of these WatsApp messages, you will realise that often a particular act of a certain religion is citied as the reason behind the backwardness of this country and how imposing the ban will stop that community from committing that act. That’s how India will become a better country. Or the second narrative which is very common in these kind of messages are usual video messages on how today’s particular minority community has inflicted atrocities upon a present day majority community and how this is the right time to seek revenge. And this ban is the right way to seek revenge.
If all these things fall in place which usually does as the present day government’s representatives are in majority in many states and Centre, then bravo! The ban has been successfully imposed. Congratulations.
But wait, some idiots have reached the high courts or the Supreme Court, and have managed to get a temporary injunction against the ban.
Chill guys. There’s nothing to worry. The government has enough sarkari vakils in every High Court and the Supreme Court. The best one of them would be hired and asked to fight the case against these idiots. And don’t worry about the legal costs incurred on fighting such cases; the government has enough of exchequer money to pay for it.
And you know what, if not now then later, and if not by judicial procedure then by legislative procedure, and if not by winning in argument with honest media then by buying the entire media through a corporate, they will win the case and impose the ban.
And do you know why they can do it – because they are the government and they have everything that it takes to win.
And do you know who made them so powerful? You. Me. We. Us.
We voted them to power and gave the right to decide what we should eat, drink, wear, read, watch on our TV sets and on internet, and at what hours at night, women should not step outside their homes.
And you know what, you cannot shout or protest against them because a state in which they are again voted to majority by us, is planning to bring a legislation which will ban, and this time I will write in capital letters, “BAN” the protest against the government.
Is this what we voted for? Is this called development? Is this “brand India” which we want to project in the entire world? Are these “acche din”?
If the present day government would have spent the same amount of time, money, energy and resources in banning water tanker mafias in Maharastra, AFSPA in Kashmir and North East and right wing organisations in Karnataka and Maharashtra, then millions of youths like me would have praised the government during those chai-sutta breaks instead of stressing upon the question, “How much free time does Modi have for all these things?”