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Vani Tripathi Tikoo on Rihanna's Farmers Protest Tweet: Does She Know India Enough?

Vani Tripathi Tikoo on Rihanna's Farmers Protest Tweet: Does She Know India Enough?

Vani Tripathi Tikoo, politician and a CBFC Board member, has a few questions for Rihanna in the wake of her tweet about farmers protests.

Pop star Rihanna tweeted a news article about the internet blockade in Delhi that followed the clashes between the protesting farmers and the police recently. "Why aren't we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest," she said, which sparked off reactions all over social media.

Vani Tripathi Tikoo, actress-turned-politician and a CBFC Board member, has a few questions for Rihanna with regards to her depth of knowledge on the matter that she commented upon to her 101 million followers.

"Does Rihanna know India enough? Because India is a complicated democracy. Yes, there are so many billion people with so many billion different identities, different sets of beliefs, and different societal and economic concerns. We are not monolithic as a nation, we are not the United States of America, where you're either a Democrat or a Republican. It's not a two pronged policy that runs this country.

So when I look at it from a feminist woman's point of view, I will not rubbish the fact that she responded. But I have a few set of questions. When was the last time Rihanna actually responded to a geopolitical issue? The United States is thousands of miles away from India, and I'm not saying that people in the US don't understand India's problems. They do. The hope with the new Biden-Kamala Harris administration is that they will have a fresh approach of looking at India, which may be different from that of the Trump administration. So there is a lot of hope and positivity there.


But when you look at Rihanna's background, you do not see her responding to societal concerns in Africa or Brazil or Mexico or Columbia and so on. So one freak tweet makes you ask a few questions. Does she understand what farm laws mean in India? Does she understand that in an agrarian economy like India, what kind of association the paradigm has with farmers? Does she understand what has been occurring for the past three months between the government and the farmers? In my mind the answer is - no.

And if there is no deeper understanding of issues, which may look like revolution/revolt from the outside, one would like to know the source of her information. 'Why are we not talking about this?' We are talking about this, every single person I know, in Delhi, in Mumbai in various parts of the country is talking about this. Everybody is very concerned that one more agrarian cycle is gone in this protest, what will happen in the next agrarian cycle, which means sowing of seeds?

Does she realise, sitting from a position of power and influence that she has, that each question she asks can become a talking point in various parts of the world? I saw some person's tweet this morning who said various celebrities internationally are responding to it. This is not a Live Aid concert where you come together for a global pandemic. This is a very domestically contained issue where a series of interventions between the government and the farmers are going on.

To have a point of view without understanding the issue is one question. And the other question, which is equally important, is that a social media influencer does not become an activist overnight. That is trying to define what social activism means. It's also a disservice to those millions of people who are activists who protest and talk about farm laws every single day in this country. It not does not mean that the political person who's talking to the farmers does not have a knowledge of that paradigm, at least the knowledge part is very clearly there.

So I will request Miss Rihanna, before she gives her two bit on everything else, including farm protests in India, to have a deeper understanding of what this means. If somebody has influenced you to tweet this, you should have at least understood the issue. I don't know whether she understands it, by that one line and the attachment of a certain article. And if she doesn't, I think one should.

There is a responsibility which comes with celebrity-dom. And this is exactly what I say to my tribe, the Indian film industry. Sometimes it's also upon us to investigate and introspect why we are not taken seriously. Probably, we open our mouth without deeper understanding of issues which probably impact society in the country. Celebrities, musicians and actors are seen as icons, and they are idolised by millions of people within their own country, and also elsewhere. That iconic stardom that they enjoy comes with great social responsibility. I hope she's aware of that. So Rihanna, I hope you know what you're talking about."

(As told to

first published:February 03, 2021, 16:19 IST