Among things that float around the corners of the political internet in India, a lot falls under the category of preaching-to-the-choir propaganda. These are so obviously blinkered that their only value is the equivalent of yelling in an echo chamber: You’re just saying the same thing over and over again, never mind the facts. Once in a while, this sort of thing emerges out of obscurity and goes mainstream.
On Saturday (Jan. 30), Harsh Goenka, the chairman of a large industrial conglomerate in India, did the honours for a map that has been popping up on Twitter, Facebook, and most pointedly on WhatsApp groups across the country.
The map claims to show how amazingly successful prime minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policy has been. With no pretense of subtlety (after all, it uses saffron to show countries that have “good relations” with India and green for the ones that don’t), the map attempts to portray a world that was overwhelmingly opposed to India for the first 67 years of the country’s existence, but now suddenly is rather fond of it.
The map is ridiculous. There are no two ways about it. One would normally ignore this sort of fringe propaganda, but the fact that it went from getting thousands of shares on Facebook to turning up on the Twitter account of an important Indian businessman is significant. One of the Facebook versions is even more comical, because it comes with a photo of Modi alongside.
The 1947-2014 map, including of course the Atal Bihari Vajpayee years, suggests that a vast part of the planet had bad relations with India for 67 years. This includes not just Pakistan and what seems like most of China, but also the entire continents of North America, South America, Australia, and most of Africa.
The exceptions here are intriguing. Only Western Europe fell in the “good relations” category. This includes what seem like France, the UK and the Iberian peninsula. Meanwhile, Russia appears to be a confused country, with half of it leaning one way.
The post-2014 one is even better. Suddenly the entire world appears saffronised, a way of explaining why Modi has been spending so much time abroad. But there are intriguing little tidbits. Western Greenland/eastern Canada apparently has not jumped on board the Modi train. Meanwhile, only a south-western portion of the Arabian peninsula, covering some of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, seems to have turned over to Modi’s side.
The map is not defined well enough to tell whether it thinks Nepal currently has good relations with India. And, probably most poignantly, both maps have the northeast of India in the “not good relations with India” section.
The fact that this patently preposterous map is getting shared probably doesn’t deserve any more comment, but Twitter was happy to offer it.