No one can predict when a country can plunge into utter chaos. The reason is it does not work like an On / Off switch where pressing the on button triggers all around chaos. It’s a gradual process where the positive versus negative energies keep accumulating beneath the social fabric, that cannot be seen by anyone for no one knows what is cooking inside the minds of millions of citizens with huge diversity and located on vast distributed geographical areas. It is also possible that some of the areas might be more prone and vulnerable as compared to others and chaos might be regionalised or restricted to some areas as what we are seeing in West Bengal. However as we have moved into a Digital era it will be difficult to anticipate when a regional storm might lead to national fire.
The kind of fake news, toolkits, and heated discussions on sensitive issues on social media has become too challenging for any sober / rational person to digest day by day. Most tragic is the fake news narratives that can unleash uncontrolled negative energy and sentiments. The toolkits have also become more dangerous as they are planned for sensationalised and inciting emotions. Further there are now more open and bold discussions and sharing of opinions on social media for good or bad we dont know,
Why we are writing this post is to warn the government and to request it to keep a close eye and vigil on each and every developments that take place from down south in Kerala to Kashmir ; Bengal to Maharashtra, all highly volatile states. Then there is Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi as well , the latter which has shown some abnormal behavior in recent years.
Let us assume that some chaotic situation goes out of control in some part of the country. The question is how the government can insulate that part from others and make sure that the damage remains localised and under control. Here are a few suggestions :-
- First and foremost keep the highways and all logistic lines open: India is a big country and it takes time and days to move one commodity from one place to other which normally happens through state and national highways. As we have seen in the Farmers protest, Highways were targeted in a very astute and strategic way so that the whole country can feel the pressure of the protest.
- Protect the rural sector: Most of the vegetables in big and small towns come from surrounding rural areas. Thus if India has to starve, block the rural areas and one can see prices shooting over skies. Therefore to protect the rural circuit is very important.
- Raise more police and home guards: Over the years India is seeng a continuous rise in protests and other incidents. The country has become more vulnerable however the police forces and other supplementary forces remain the same. It is necessary that this gap is closed.
- Control over Social media: The government has already taken certain steps to tame the social media. Some more measures are required so that the citizens as well as the companies remain circumspect about what they post and share. This is going to be a permanent feature as we move further into digital and internet driven era.
- Define sedition and enact more laws: Recently we have seen the government imposing sedition laws while the courts gleefully rejecting them and freeing the accused. There may be some points the courts have given the accused a free hand in such cases as it is difficult to put all the threads in one place by the police in the absence of proper evidences and witnesses. Thus it becomes rather embarrassing for the government first to put sedition charges and then the court freeing everyone. The government has to look into these aspects and try to fill the loopholes. It must define sedition charges in the new emerging scenario and also enact more laws where by these disturbance creators are taken to law.
- Use modern technologies to keep an eye : The good thing about emerging technologies is that it can be used both sides. The government must not lag behind and use facial and AI techniques to identify people who have a habit of creating menace and social disturbances. We are still not utilising the power of technology by and large which offers many advantages , tricks and mechanisms to identify persons with dubious records. All places with mass mobility must have face recognition system installed so that persons can be immediately taken to custody.
WE have raised a futuristic scenario where we see increasing social disharmony as bold and volatile views , opinions and fake news is shred without guilt.
The government cannot remain blind to such developments and has to be one step ahead.
This is the right time to go about it
Dr. Asheesh Shah