Moving to a topic overseas, but also far too close to home, there is a very interesting article on The Rest Of World website, “Fact Checking Modi’s India,” by Sonia Faleiro.* In it, Faleiro looks at the Indian fact checking organization, Alt News, and two of the group’s founders and leading lights, Mohammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha. These two individuals have, with extreme courage, sought to reveal and correct the fake news that Modi’s supporters regularly pump into the Indian consciousness.
Prime Minister Modi is, in some ways, both the Trump and the Maggie Thatcher of the country, combining a pro-business, Neoliberal message with populism, nationalism, and, lastly, a fairly blatant anti-Islamic bias. In fact, the Modi regime specializes in flat-out lies about India’s Muslims. Everyday, it seems, the PM’s supporters fill the Internet with stories (false) of Islamic crimes and murders…all committed against virtuous Hindus, of course.
Before it, they are helpless...
To date, Modi has been remarkably successful in maintaining this narrative. Journalists who try to correct it have a funny habit of ending up in jail. Or dying. Faleiro points out that Messrs. Zubair and Sinha are taking considerable risks to promote the truth. They’ve been lucky so far, but it may not last.
What I, personally, find fascinating about this story is that Modi…like our Trump, like Brazil’s Bolsonaro, like the Philippines' Duterte, and like Russia's Putin…has been able to gain and retain power at least partly by simply denying the truth. If something is uncomfortable, or doesn’t fit the triumphalist message of the regime, the regime’s supporters simply refuse to admit it happened (like the last election).
But there’s a limit. Eventually, you run across a fact that simply won’t go away, no matter how hard you try. For Trump, for Bolsonaro, and right now, as Faleiro points out, for Modi, that’s Covid. In the United States, the virus revealed Trump’s inability to revise the reality of life and death, no matter how hard he tried. For Modi and Bolsonaro, it has become even more serious. Their failure to do anything about the disease has led to a genuinely existential crises for their nations.
Of course, and sadly enough, we have no way of knowing whether the pandemic will finally motivate the peoples of the world to rid themselves of their populist despots. We don’t even know if Trump won’t come back in 2024 (God forbid).
But what it does show is that regimes that come to power by first creating a false crisis and then demanding extraordinary authorities with which to deal with that crisis (as in placing ethnic minorities in concentration camps), have proved amazingly successful as political parties…
But once in power, and once confronted with a real crisis not of their own making…
They are utterly helpless.
Until next time…
Onward and Upward.
Copyright©2021 Michael Jay Tucker
Source: “Fact Checking Modi’s India,” by Sonia Faleiro, Rest Of World, 12 May, 2021, https://restofworld.org/2021/fact-checking-modis-india/