A completely fake WhatsApp message blaming Rahul Gandhi to have promised to turn potato in gold just popped in my inbox.
It not only reminded me that election season is now open, but it also jolted me as I suddenly discovered a scary possibility.
Is Rahul Gandhi to China that Trump was for Russia?
Though the video is a great example of fake and fabricated information getting used to impact public opinion, I am not really scared of it, as it has made me see a far far more diabolical possibility.
We all know that social media is the new frontier where 2019 election will be fought. We are also becoming aware about misuse of this platform by all political parties.
But, is that the only threat that social media poses in the new and interconnected world?
As I perceive a grave threat, I want you to look at the last large election held by a democracy, the one that got Donald Trump to power.
It was the first election in which humanity was subjected to systematic opinion-programming at a national level.
Armed with latest technologies and data crunching abilities, both political parties of USA engaged with the people on almost one-to-one bases. It was an election fought at micro-level, as each citizen was reachable through social media and was thus worked upon by politicians.
But, was it just the American political parties that were interested in the outcome of US election?
Here comes the biggest question that is really scary, and more so when you are living alongside a rogue neighbour who not only has a motive to undermine you but has far superior technology and access into your systems.
As Trump came into power after a seemingly surprise victory for many, America woke up to a startling possibility. Evidences showed that it was possible that someone was working on the American minds from outside.
Though not fully confirmed, there is a great possibility that Russia engaged actively with American citizens through social media. By applying modern analytics tools to the easy-to-access social media data, Russia found trends and tweaked them just enough to build a positive image of Donald Trump in the mind of an average American to help him win.
While there is no way to be sure if US election result was influenced by Russians; but, it will not be surprising if it is proven to be true, as there is enough technology out there to make it happen.
As we head for a very important election in 2019, I am forced to learn from USA and invite you to think about who could be interested in us and what would serve its agenda.
There is absolutely no doubt that China is interested in the outcome Indian elections.
A strong India isn’t exactly a Chinese dream. They will want India to be unstable and confused. They will want Indian growth to slow down, especially in industrial sector, and they will surely love to see Indian military power to become weak.
It is easy to see that a weak government at helm in India would serve Chinese agenda wonderfully well, so it would be stupid of us if we are not going to consider a possibility that somewhere in China there is a large establishment working right now with a clear agenda of using whatever options they have to influence Indian elections.
There is no doubt that China must have done so in every election in past, but the case of 2019 election is a clearly different.
The problem today is that China is a superpower, a technology powerhouse and, lot worse, it is almost a rogue state that is immune to international opinions and pressures. There is also enough evidence that it uses unethical hacking as a state-supported weapon and it is really good at it too.
Lot worse is, Chinese IT products, especially smartphones have penetrated not just Indian market but the entire world. Time and again, it is caught with having inserted a chip here and an IC there in computers and phones it has supplied to the world that it can use for snooping.
As China-built smartphone is the primary route used by Indian masses to access social media, it is very likely that China is already holding us by the short hairs.
So, if Russia could tweak the opinion of American public by using social media, it should be a cakewalk for Chinese to do that to India.
If we put two and two together, it is clear that China would like to interfere in 2019 elections and has more than enough technology and access to do it successfully. So, it is bound to do just that.
After that scary conclusion, it would be important to figure out what would be the target that China would pick so that we can be vigilant.
At this point, India enjoys a strong government because BJP enjoys a good lead in Lok Sabha. As Mr. Modi has always shown aggression as a key part of his persona, it is clear that having BJP and Modi in power would surely not be what China wants.
If we look at another option, Rahul Gandhi is a soft leader coming from an elite background who can’t be imaged as a leader who would be wedging wars. And, even his most optimistic supporters can’t imagine congress to win with such an overwhelming majority that it won’t need support of smaller local parties. So, even if a government is formed under his leadership, it would be a circus that would fit China’s bill to perfection.
So, it is clear that if China is going to use social media to infiltrate Indian voter’s mind, the horse it will back has to be Rahul Gandhi.
Let me make it clear that this is not a critique of Mr. Gandhi, congress or Bua-Bhatija equation. I love Indian democracy and would be happy to see any democratically elected government from any party in India.
But, I want Indians to apply their own minds and choose their leader, and not become puppets of a foreign power with a malicious agenda.
Not just for the sake of our beloved nation, but also for the sake of the grand idea that democracy is, we need to wake up to this serious possibility.
Indian administration needs to rise to the challenge of Chinese online invasion that is surely on the cards.
As Rahul Gandhi seems to be a logical choice for China, we need to be more careful with social media trends linked to him to see if they are natural or agenda driven.
It is not just Indian democracy at stake here, it is more likely that even the very concept of India too is, so we can’t take this issue lightly.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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