Every time #SOSJAMIA #SOSAMU #SOSJNU #SOS becomes trending, our Instagram feeds, twitter handles and our WhatsApp groups experience traffic of videos and images. In the past 2 months, the youth has witnessed a solidarity circle to help those in need. We have seen how within few hours, protests and demonstrations were organised at the Delhi Police Headquarters or outside JNU. Social media has changed from being merely a place to post selfies to a book where history is being written or re-written down.
What Internet And Communication Mean At This Hour?
One prerequisite to rebellion, protest and agitation is communication. As much as the regimes want to control the flow of information, it is now impossible to shut it down completely. While our Indian Media is busy playing propaganda and fake news, it is social media and the global community that counters them. While it is not fair to say that only the youth is leading these movements but it is fair to say that the youth has a major role in connecting and communicating with a ‘global’ community from every corner of the country.
What happened at Jamia, JNU, AMU and all over the country is present on social media. The video of what happened at Sabarmati Hostel in JNU or the video of library of Jamia is available in almost half of the smartphone user population. More so, it is now present as evidence of what happened. The younger generations’ access to the world in a way that didn’t exist prior 2010 has made it possible. Knowledge is thus, now more than ever a power for the people to shape the society we live in.
India’s Tale of Internet Shutdowns
This takes us back to the power of Internet and why the governments are obsessed with Internet Shutdowns. India is the only country to have done the highest number of Internet shutdowns in history ever. What is it the state wants to hide or control or curb? When the press is not able to expose the brutalities of the establishment, it is grassroots protests recorded by the public that brings truth to the global community watching on the Internet.
Alternative Media And Social Media In protests
The role of truth and journalism is to shape reality and put things in perspective for the world and society. If you put the truth on the table eventually people are going to take it. The regimes have tried to undermine the concept of truth and change the narrative to confuse people. Exactly what our Indian Media is doing now. Many prominent news channels are fueling the fire and spreading fake news by playing either doctored videos or presenting false facts. Protests and activism on part of people or revolutions are now being seen by the world and not as isolate entities.
What social media has done in the protest against CAA and NRC is to combine the people of India. Various social media handles update daily information about protests of every corner of the country. Poetry, music, songs, videos of protests are viral on Internet. We have artworks and posters of protests happening all over the country.This emergence of a public sphere that reaches to those in need in times of #SOS, that pass on information to everyone in times of emergency and that keeps an eye on their mobile phones for every bit of information, that uploads protest videos and images makes this a watershed moment for today. In times of despair, videos of thousands coming to support and help those in need sending a message that, “WE ARE TOGETHER!” are moments of solace.
The impact of globalization, digital media and the Internet can be seen now more clearly than ever today. The globalisation of every struggle or movement gaining attention and horrors of Internet shutdown to stop the information to reach outside are the two realities of today. The Supreme Court has stated Internet freedom to be a fundamental right, and hence, the Internet blockade in states of Uttar Pradesh, Assam etc. are example of failure of administration and citizens rights.
We do not have information of what happens on ground because there is no one to send, no one to make it viral and that is the scariest part of it. Even today, whole world is watching more than 4 months of communication blockade in Kashmir. The disruption of public life and thousands of lives that depend on Internet are a reality of the world.
Featured Image Source: Vitamin Stree