Can one get away with inconsistency? How hard is it for anyone to obtain benefits from something that goes against what they stand for? In today’s world, how hard is it to be an opportunist? Fortunately or unfortunately, very. Our entire lives are out there, chronologically mapped out on the internet for all to see. Our allegiances and priorities stand exposed. There is no loss of memory or scope of inaccurate interpretation.
Take the case of Jasleen Kaur for example, a young AAP activist and NDTV employee. Earlier this week, she alleged that a biker had spoken to her in an unbecoming way near a traffic signal. She clicked his picture and circulated it on social media. The mainstream media, both television and print, went completely overboard covering this story. Now, after eye-witness accounts, her story seems to be falling apart. It is now alleged that she took the law into her own hands despite the presence of a policeman, and started directing traffic. When she asked the biker to stop and he questioned her authority, she clicked his picture and told him that the power of the ‘common man’ would take its course.
Whatever the truth may be, her biodata was used by many to advance their arguments against her. They alleged that one could get away with pretty much anything in the national capital if one flaunted their ruling-party connections. They alleged that mainstream media is like a cosy family- siblings fighting amongst themselves but ready to gang up if one of theirs comes into conflict with a stranger. Anyone can click a picture and write a few words about it but why didn’t she take a video, they asked.
The other youngster who hit the headlines this week was twenty-two year old Hardik Patel. Hardik has galvanised a section of the Patel community in Gujarat and has been at the forefront of mammoth agitations lately. He and his supporters seek reservations for the Patel community. The Patels are one of the wealthiest communities in India and make up a large chunk of our diaspora. Crores of rupees have been spent on these agitations, and they are conducted with seamless efficiency. And all of this is for everybody to see.
But what is also for everybody to see is the kind of man Hardik is. Naturally there was a lot of curiosity around this twenty-two year old who brought India’s model state to its knees. People didn’t have to dig too deep to discover very interesting things. The peace advocating activist was often seen with guns in the past. He hasn’t completed his education. Pictures also show his links with the VHP and the AAP, two Modi-baiting organisations. This has already fuelled rumours that the agitations are a direct attack on Narendra Modi. It is possible that the last few months have made a changed man of Hardik, that he has left his past behind and is now a genuine peaceful activist fighting for justice. The possibility of course is not plausible.
Nowadays it is common to see screenshots of contradictory tweets by public figures. Many politicians, especially Arvind Kejriwal, seem to have flip-flopped about every issue under the sun. Because of the internet’s unending memory, credibility is at stake all the time. It isn’t like those erstwhile days when people had the liberty of saying anything without being accountable, for their words would eventually fade away into forgotonness. It isn’t like those days when the mainstream media controlled news circulation either.
Today over 300 million Indians have internet access. That’s 24% of our population, and the figure’s steadily on the rise. This chunk of our population doesn’t perceive what others want it to perceive, it chooses for itself. It can see through all the positives as well as all the deceit. And once it understands what it sees, it can make or break anything. In such an environment, it becomes imperative for public figures to shed their hypocrisy. So intense is the scrutiny that they are forced to walk the talk. Technology has taken us to such a level that pseudos have no place in our world.