Democracy and the increasing role of extra non state players beyond public glare and attention.
Some very disturbing trends are visible in the country and internationally. Politics under democracy is no more the fiefdom of politicians , neither of the media which has a legitimate fifth estate title bestowed upon it. Unfortunately we are talking about people or organisations that are not in limelight nor even known, – the extras non state actors – but are manipulating the strings in a very clever manner. While certain names are known in this realm many others are not which we think is a more dangerous situation.
To identify these partisan actors let us see the role of social media company twitter which decimated all of Trump’s power to reach to American citizens by banning his account. Further the big tech companies like google, apple, amazon blocked another social media platform ‘Parleys’ by removing it off their servers. But then these tech companies and social media outfits are not alone in their role in shaping the public mood and manipulating what content reaches them and in what way. They are responsible to make a narrative strong or weak by simply controlling what trends on social media by smart play of their algorithms. There are other equally if not more strong players too.
We don’t want to stop at the social media and big tech companies. We wish to go beyond and should identify the real actors who control these companies or act independently.
Take the example of the farmers protest in the country that is now going for over a month. What looked to be a normal protest has taken a big turn with more farmers/activists joining . The initial thrust given to the protests carried a good sign that there are players from outside the country. It is becoming increasingly easy for such actors to foment trouble and emotions of public.
Take another example. The new serial ‘Tandav’ is a case in point which is said to show Hindi Gods in poor light. We wonder why our system allows such serials in the first place or if we are really willing and are liberal to absorb that kind of rubbish then why such debates trend on social media blaming the Information and broadcasting minister for all the problems.
In India we have certain actors who are instrumental in these behind the scene activities. Some of them pose as election strategists, some as media tycoon , some as political statesman , civil societies, NGO;s, authors, some billionaire tycoon and likewise. Even Bollywood celebrities and people out there are/can be such actors who play decisive roles behind the public glare. We don’t know who sleeps with whom especially at the international level and where is the loyalty factor in all this especially if not to a party at least for the nation.
Things are getting more messy and more complex. We need a GOOD robust system to take care of all these that is happening around us. We need to define rules and bring greater transparency. That is the only way to go about it, Any project has to clarify/announce its funds and all those who have collaborated in it. Nothing should remain behind the scene. And if someone is found guilty there has to be a heavy penalty.
We are of the opinion that time has come that the government broods over all such issues and prepares the road map for a strong healthy and vibrating democracy. Indeed we need democracy but with a proper system , rules and regulations. Not the kind that we see today which is free for all without responsibility and accountability. This way we will be able to prolong the life of our democracy which often seems to be taking a wild uncharted route that we fail to understand.
Note: This is just the start of a new serious topic that needs wide ranging discussions. We will be writing more on it in the future.
Dr. Asheesh Shah