Not so long ago, getting heard by even your local municipality corporator was unfathomable by most Indians. Then came the social media blitzkrieg by people like Shashi Tharoor and Modi. Modi was perhaps the first politician who saw the vast potential of social media in reaching out to masses and as he formed the government, he enforced his belief in social media outreach across the political and governance spectrum, forcing ministers and government officials and even opposition leaders like Lalu Yadav were forced to follow suit just to keep up with the competition.
And then came first hand social media support by cabinet rank ministers and government agencies over Twitter and Facebook, which literally was perhaps the most game changing move in participative governance, something which isn’t seen anywhere else. However like every other fairy tale, this one was about to find its eventual vamps and villains too.
Recently Twitter was abuzz with tweets about one man from Delhi having to go on his “honeymoon” alone because his wife had lost her passport 2 days before their honeymoon. This was suspiciously similar to this story of a Pakistani woman going on Honeymoon alone cause her husband’s visa was rejected. But there was something more suspicious here than that. Here is the sequence of events:
1. Faizan Patel (who apparently wasn’t a huge fan of Sushma earlier) suddenly out of nowhere posts a tweet praising her on 2nd August:
2. Soon, he goes on to post couple of tweets announcing loss of passport (at home) 2 days before “honeymoon”:
3. And on the 6th of August, leaves abroad for the honeymoon, alone:
4. A few sympathy seeking posts, pics and tweets to Sushma:
5. Sushma replies and issues a duplicate passport to help the couple unite on the trip:
Bet that Pakistani girl who went on Honeymoon alone wished she had a Sushma Swaraj! Fairy tale! But hold on, social media users found a plot twist – The honeymoon wasn’t a honeymoon, the just married couple had not just married.
The couple in question got married in December 2015. They went on Honeymoon to Jim Corbett soon after. The current trip in question seems to be a group tour. Combine all of this together with “losing your passport at home” bit and you will be forgiven for questioning the intent behind the whole saga.
Was it a publicity stunt all the way? Should such privileges meant for emergency situations be extended to the most careless amongst us who lose their passport sitting in the comfy couches? Did they think about milking the situation half way through it? It gets worse when you come across dire situations completely ignored by Sushma Swaraj and her team like these:
Nothing to take away from the amazing work done by Sushma Swaraj and other government departments but in light of genuine dire cases being ignored and seemingly non urgent publicity stunts being given urgent attention, it does make one wonder if the boon of social media is also its bane, if chances of you getting help on twitter is directly proportional to virality of your request and even your marketing skills and social clout.
Faizan Patel, his wife and a lot of their friends could have been, at the very least, unethical in their behaviour for creating a sob-story about newlywed couple on their first honeymoon. They received help based on that story, which appears spiced up. The issue here should not be about whether a Modi-Government hater can ask the Government for help. He certainly can because a Government is elected to serve all people, supporters as well as adversaries. The focus should be on the possibility that a set-up was used to deceive a ministry.
Also, should ministers and government departments have a relook at their social media strategy to make sure the most urgent cases get their attention first and not non urgent publicity stunts? You be the judge.