The Indian Farmers’ Movement 2020–21: Part II: The Global Indian Diaspora and Digital Activism


On February 2, the second day of Black History Month, a tweet from a Black woman in the United States unleashed a war of words in India, with global resonance. Rihanna, the Barbados-born U.S. singer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and cultural activist posted a one-liner: “why aren’t we talking about this?!” with the hashtag #FarmersProtest and a link to a report about the government of India shutting down internet services in areas bordering the national capital, New Delhi, where farmers have been carrying out a movement to oppose three contentious farm laws.

Rihanna’s tweet went viral. The climate activist Greta Thunberg, Hollywood actor John Cusack, U.S.-based lawyer and supporter of Black Lives Matter Meena Harris, former adult star Mia Khalifa, Instagram influencer Amanda Cerny, R&B singer Jay Sean, and music composer Dr. Zeus all expressed support for the Indian farmers’ protests in their own independent tweets. Kisan Ekta Morcha, the official Twitter account of the United Farmers’ Front, thanked Rihanna for her support of the movement, and countless Indians praised her for drawing international attention to the movement.



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  1. One of the reasons that I am very interested in Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and specifically the Starlink system (Internet from the skies) is to ensure that people can bypass the wishes of their national (and local) governments. Physicaly, local internet (optical fiber, coaxial cable, or twisted-pair telephone lines) can be seized or destroyed, so those providers will inherently bow to the demands of the governments involved.

    What I’d like to (eventually) see is Musk announcing that he will sell (or even better, give away?) internet access to people in a region where the government doesn’t want that access to occur. I understand why he won’t make such an announcement ‘soon’, weeks or even months from how.

    Obviously, providing Internet access to places such as North Korea would probably be implausible, but India is not suppose to have a tyranny.

    Perhaps this kind of thing could be self-financed: An interested individual could set up a WiFi router, with the Starlink system as a supplier, and provide an internet service for a few hundred feet nearby.

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