With the onset of farmer’s protest from November 26th regarding the three Anti-farm bills passed in the parliament on September 4th, 2020, the demonstrations have been the talk of the town. While the farmers have blocked the major borders of the National capital including Singhu, Chilla, Kundli and Delhi-Noida highway, there seems to be no resolution or midway which could be seen coming through. Neither the Centre nor the farmers seems to be in a mood to diverge their ways. Various celebrities from all walks of life have also extended their support to the bread-earners of the country. While some like Diljit Dosanjh are battling on social media, others like Gul Panag, Swara Bhasker and Deep Sindhu have put their foot on ground to sing in unison with the farmers.
Amidst the protest, a campaign which caught the attention of many is ‘Tractor2twitter’. The campaign was started keeping in mind the substantial youth population of Punjab and to bring those on social media so as to create a virtual revolution alongside the ground protest and the following on their twitter account increased exponentially. The twitter handle managed to gain a massive 16k following in less than a month’s time, such was the impact of their intent. The founding members of the campaign includes- Mr. Amandeep Singh Bains, Mr. Harsh Bhalla, Mr. Manik Goyal, Mr. Bhavjit Singh and Mr. Raj Bhuttar. The founder of the campaign, Mr. Bhavjit Singh in a recent interview with The Turban Talk, a platform for Sikh voice told that the idea to commence the campaign emerged around 28th November as the mainstream media portrayed a biased approach and even in the past they had always tried to vilify and discredit such peaceful protests. He also made us aware about his team working laboriously in various parts of the world including US, Canada, UK and Australia and how relentless they have been in their pursuit.
Upon questioning him about the attempt to derail the protests by portraying Khalistani stance and pushing Anti-national agenda, he at once told that several such attempts have been made by those who hold the power. High octane campaigns were run to discredit the protesting farmers. The media houses owned by crony capitalists acted hand in glove with the ruling party to push the divisive agenda. They used IT cells to run Twitter trends against the protesting farmers. The farmers were allegedly termed as terrorists and Khalistanis from their social media platforms. Even as an outsider, who is observing the protest from a distance is presented with two altogether different pictures. One comes from the social media where the netizens are standing shoulder to shoulder with the farmers and the other comes from the national media where the farmers seems to have gone astray, instigated by the opposition parties.
Singh also told TTT that most of the non-Hindi speaking states generally face discrimination. In Punjab, the government machinery always tries to create communal divide among the communities. As a Sikh, he feels the community is targeted easily by the machinery and an atmosphere of fear is created, and due rights are denied. Upon asking how did the campaign manage to amass 17k followers in such a short span of time, Singh made us aware with the fact that it was the name of the handle, its logo and the creatives that attracted people. Consequently, the punch line created a stir among the youngsters and they created accounts in hundreds and thousands.
Not alone on social media but the effect is visible even on ground level as well. Farmers feel more connected to the social media space when they discuss about Tractor2Twitter. Youth from Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan have joined the twitter and other social media platforms lately.
The campaign is an apt proof of the saying by Douglas Engelbart that “The digital revolution is far more significant than the invention of writing or even of printing.” It is marching on and entering every aspect of life. Coming to the implementation of the bills, no matter which way the wind blows but one thing is for sure that no one can underestimate the power of social media, it duly forces the necessary change. Regardless of religion or background, it brings people together on a common platform with a singular cause.
(The interview has been reciprocated over here with due permission from The Turban Talk)