Published: 04th February 2021
What the FAQ: What is an international incident, can Rihanna's tweet on farmers' protest be classified as one?
Pop singer Rihanna's tweet on Tuesday linked to a news story about the internet blockade at the farmers' protest sites in and around New Delhi
The only issue netizens have been speaking about on Twitter since Tuesday is that of Pop singer Rihanna's tweet on the farmers' protest and the subsequent response of the Indian government. India's External Affairs Ministry called it "sensationalist" and stated that the comments, "especially when resorted to by celebrities and others is neither accurate nor responsible".
Here, we try to weigh in on whether this can be called an international incident, why the Indian government resorted to an unusual step of issuing a statement in response to a tweet and more.
What is an international incident?
Ans: According to the universally accepted definition, an international incident or diplomatic incident is a relatively small or limited action, incident or clash that results in a wider dispute between two or more nations. International incidents can arise from unanticipated actions involving citizens of a nation, government officials, or armed units of one or more nations, or out of a deliberate but small provocative action by an espionage agent or a spy of one nation-state, or by terrorists, against another nation.
Can the Ministry of External Affair's response to Rihanna's tweet on the farmer's protest be called one?
Ans: Well-known Pop singer Rihanna has had to face the wrath of the Indian government and Bollywood celebrity Kangana Ranaut after she shared a news report about the heavy-handed measures being used by the government against the protesting farmers in the country. In a tweet addressing her 101 million followers, Rihanna wrote: “Why aren’t we talking about this?!” Soon after her post, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs released an official statement on Wednesday criticising foreign individuals and entities for comments on the ongoing farmer protests. The statement said it is “unfortunate to see vested interest groups trying to enforce their agenda on these protests, and derail them.” The MEA said that the Parliament of India only after a “full debate and discussion” had passed reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector. Defending the three controversial farm laws, which are being protested against, the MEA said the reforms intend to give expanded market access and provide greater flexibility to farmers. “They also pave the way for economically and ecologically sustainable farming,” the MEA statement read.
Who are the others from the international community that commented on the farmers' protest?
Ans: Several hours after Rihanna’s tweet, the Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who has 4.6 million followers on her Twitter account, also posted, saying: “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.” The Indian government appeared to be angered by the international celebrity attention on the protests, and in a very unlikely and unusual step, it issued the statement that did not directly mention the Pop singer or the young environmentalist but criticised foreign individuals for "rushing to comment on such matters" without a "proper understanding of the issues". "The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible," the statement had said.
What are the Indian celebrities, politicians saying about international attention to the farmers' protest?
Ans: Several celebrities and central government ministers in India on Wednesday tweeted using two hashtags coined by the Ministry of External Affairs in response to criticism of the Centre’s handling of the farmers’ protests by international personalities. The two hashtags are #IndiaAgainstPropaganda and #IndiaTogether. Using these, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said propaganda cannot affect India’s unity or stop the country from attaining new heights. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted, "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." Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar wrote, "Farmers constitute an extremely important part of our country. And the efforts being undertaken to resolve their issues are evident. Let’s support an amicable resolution, rather than paying attention to anyone creating differences."