You finish the day’s work. You walk back into your house. A handful of people there are mourning around a dead body. That dead body is YOURS. What are they saying? Are they saying good things about you or are they whispering bad things and saying this was a terrible man and it is good he died? If you want those mourners to say good things, you have the power to do those good things right now. That is the essence of the chapter ‘Begin with the end in mind’ from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits. Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) is most famous for inventing the Dynamite. He was also the owner of Bofors which is quite infamous in India. In 1888 a newspaper wrongly published news about his death and wrote his obituary. His obit was titled “The merchant of death is dead”. Hmmm! That sounds familiar? So you know where “Maut ka Saudagar” comes from now, right?
The only problem was that it wasn’t Alfred but his brother who had died but Alfred Nobel was shocked to find this is how people will remember him; as the “Dynamite man” or “Merchant of death”. It shocked him so much that he decided to do a few things different. When he returned home he assigned a huge part of his wealth to an endowment to honour people who have contributed to a better world. That’s now called the Nobel Prize. So Alfred is now remembered not for dynamite or as merchant of death but for the Nobel Prize. If you want people to talk good about you, then do good things. A lesson the Congress and the GOI don’t seem to ever learn.
In January 2013 during the ‘Chintan Shivir’ at Jaipur the Congress decided they had fallen way behind on the Social Media (SM) and have to do something about it. They decided it would take an expense of 100 Crores to combat what they determined was “propaganda” on the SM. That’s starting on the wrong foot by itself. When you decide to “combat” something you are in “defence” mode and not in proactive mode. In a response to this campaign plan by the Congress I wrote a post “How To Buy Friends & Influence Elections”. Among other things, I had suggested people like Digvijaya Singh or Kapil Sibal are the wrong people to lead any campaign on the SM. I had suggested Shashi Tharoor, instead, would be the right man. He is admired by even those who don’t like the Congress party and he absorbs criticism quite well. Looks like the Congress listened and put the man in charge. But since then, it has been downhill.
Even the soft-tweeting Gargi Rawat of NDTV couldn’t help noticing how far behind the Govt really is. Actually, she meant Congress when she said “Govt”. She tweeted about the Indian Express story that laid out the Congress plans. So the Congress, like Alfred Nobel, discovered people weren’t saying nice things about them. So they brand them “propagandists”. That’s the first mistake. So why aren’t people saying nice things about the Congress? Umm.. let’s see! Endless scams, attacks on women, Gangrapes, frequent terror attacks, misuse of 66A and other such laws, caning sleeping protesters at Ramlila, banning cartoons, arresting cartoonists, defence of all the misdeeds. Remember the classic Manish Tiwari statement? Here’s what he once said about protesters: “.....consists of "armchair fascists, over-ground Maoists, closet anarchists...lurking behind forces of right reaction and funded by invisible donors whose links may go back a long way abroad".
If you describe your critics and opponents with such hatred and contempt you can’t expect to go back and make friends on the SM. Can you? And in the IE article the Congress notes that people like Manish Tiwari have become active on the SM. Welcome! The servantile MSM will absorb and pass such nonsense for sound-bites, the SM won’t. This same Manish Tiwari who is so brazen and contemptuous in the MSM is so scared of the SM that he has locked up his Twitter account when I last checked (@ManishTiwari08 – which appears to be his account). He’s the I&B Minister. Is this how he’s going to communicate with the general public?
Another tweet by the same Gargi Rawat is stunning. MoS RPN Singh claimed Narendra Modi lifted the line “secularism means India First” from his profile on Twitter. The SM was quick to expose the fake claim of RPN Singh in no time. Mr.RPN must realise that the SM is not his backyard called NDTV or CNN-IBN. Now are these SM guys propagandists and armchair fascists? Unlike the MSM where lies are peddled as news or gospel, these will be exposed very quickly on the SM. So if people like RPN Singh are going to dish out silly stuff, the SM will be unkind and not drool like NDTV. This is the difficulty for the Congress which is long used to a slavish MSM which will bend, crawl and fall at its feet anytime. But I did point out to Gargi that it’s not just that people are ahead of the Congress in terms of online space but that they are far ahead in putting out facts and truth. Facts and truth are now largely incompatible with the MSM.
People opposed to the Congress were blanked out from the MSM. For long they didn’t have a voice in the establishment. Technology sets the truth free as well. All the lies of MSM are now being exposed on a daily basis by people on the SM. Unfortunately, because Congress happens to be the GOI and MSM their slave, they are facing the brunt of these exposes. The other thing that the Congress overlooks is far more serious. They forget that among the large population on SM there are people who are far more educated, far more knowledgeable. They can any day beat the likes of campaigners like Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, Ashutosh, Nikhil Wagle and many more with their sheer knowledge and capabilities in articulating their arguments and articles spectacularly. I can name more than a dozen sites that are far superior to MSM propagandists any time.
The problem for the Congress also is that even the 100Crs, which is being jokingly called #TwitterNREGA, cannot buy these people. They may get hired hands but not the knowledge required to separate facts from fiction. This is the tough challenge that Shashi Tharoor faces. Thus, the newly joined campaigners for Congress on Twitter create far more comedy than any genuine communication. Congress has a plan to mass-RT anything that their leaders or campaigners tweet. That RT bit can easily turn into comedy. In the second part we will look at quite a bit of that comedy.
To be concluded…