Interview: Rahul Raj, Co-founder of OpIndia.com
“These days when I look into posts, by the media I can clearly see that they are manipulating people. They are working as propaganda machines. I lost all respect for media houses but the sad part is we have to rely on them. The irony is that, they are the only source which is traveling first to us and that is troublesome, you have to rely on someone who is trying to manipulate you and then decode why are they doing this!”
Rahul, who started Bhak Sala (a word commonly used in the Hindi belt) as a Facebook Page in 2012, started it as a fun page and published jokes and witty posts. During his IT days at the Benaras Hindu University he edited a newspaper and the thought of pursuing something similar on social media motivated him to do it. He went on to post original jokes and Hindi stories that excited many and earned him likes and followers on the social media.
With time, he contacted more people who contributed to his page and eventually launched a site called Bhak Sala. Rahul says he did not have any agenda when he started Bhak Sala and he went on to explore new media, making satire and jokes out of it.
“When in Delhi during 2013, I was a part of the Anna movement and wanted to stand with AAP then. It was then I started writing on politics, but with time I understood that that was not something I wanted to be associated with and began writing pro BJP posts” says Rahul.
People then started accusing him of being biased and abused him on social media. They claimed that he changed his ideology to attract more likes and followers.
“Everyday I get so many messages on my FB page where people call me a ‘Sanghi’, a “Troll’ and many such hate messages. It does not bother me anymore.”
Rahul Raj adds; “With time, I realised that I am shaping myself with wrong facts and wrong news. This year in January, Gaurav and me decided to start OpIndia.com as we realised that there is a huge gap between what is being reported and what the facts are and we wanted to explore that space.”
With his regular job, Rahul Raj and his collaborators find it very hectic, but still manage to take time off from work and stay up late into the nights to discuss and check what the mainstream news media’s sources are and what logical argument needs to be put forward to expose them.
“It gives us satisfaction, it drives us and we are doing it out of our own interest. We analyze the news that appears from MSM.”
Rahul has also received threats on Twitter and even received legal notices from politicians and small time media houses but they did not pursue them further. He adds that before starting OpIndia, he has consulted legal experts.
“It is not very easy for us to write using secondary sources or newspapers. These days when I look into posts, by the media I can clearly see that they are manipulating people. They are working as propaganda machines. I lost all respect for media houses but the sad part is we have to rely on them. The irony is that, they are the only source which is traveling first to us and that is troublesome, you have to rely on someone who is trying to manipulate you and then decode why are they doing this!” Rahul says.
“People are vulnerable. People have their personal lives and they are busy so they end up believing in whatever the media says like how people believed that ‘India was discovered’. Once you tell people that what your eating is poison, then they will want a body to have a check on the quality of the food they are eating. Likewise, once they know that the mainstream media is manipulating them, they will demand a regulatory body. it is important to bring about an awareness. There is a need to keep a check on the news media.” he adds.
On asked why most of the Indian media is left wing, he says; “It is believed that the one studying English is more intellectual, likewise there is a notion that the one who has a left leaning is an intellectual and it is cool.”
Rahul believes that the mainstream media pretends to ignore people like him and discredit them by name calling such as “troll” or “Sanghis” but they understand the growing influence of the social media.
“We do have plans to expand OpIndia, we would like to hire more people who can write for us and right now we are getting good traffic and we believe we have a good potential. Currently we are busy in building our core team.” he concludes.
OpIndia.com was conceptualized and launched in December 2014 by Kumar Kunal Kamal, an academician. Rahul and Gaurav joined him in January. Kamal is dormant now, so Rahul and Gaurav are managing the site.
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