PM’s digi-cam, email use claim break the Net

PM’s digi-cam, email use claim break the Net

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s televised claims of using a digital camera and email in 1987-88 unleashed a tsunami of savage trollery on Monday focused around the question: How did he manage it when the first digi-cam and emails made their Indian debut only in the 1990s?

Modi’s claims came in a much-shared interview to Hindi news channel, News Nation. Quizzed about his fondness for gadgets, Modi had revealed that technology fascinated him long before he turned Gujarat Chief Minister.

But what sparked an avalanche of memes and caustic tweets was this: His claim that he used a digital camera to capture a shot of L K Advani at a rally in Virangam tehsil. The photograph, he said, was sent to Delhi, where it was published the next day much to Advani’s “surprise”.

Lapping up the claims with much glee, Twitterati exploded in mirth. Leading the pack from Karnataka was Congress social media head Divya Spandana, who answered her own query: “Any guesses as to what @narendramodi email id was in 1988? is my guess.”

Clouds were what made Monday’s trollery worse. Modi’s had credited his ‘raw wisdom’ that told him how the cloudy sky would block Pakistani radars from detecting Indian fighter jets during the Balakot surgical strike.

This was trigger enough for #CloudyModi to remain the top Twitter trend throughout Monday. But amid the mirth, this incisive tweet by Karthik Chandna stood out for its depth: “As per the Indian Constitution, it is the fundamental duty of every citizen ‘to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.’

In that flood of ridicule, sarcasm and trollery came this fact-check from many: That the first commercial, portable, digital camera was sold in Japan by Fuji, only in December 1989. But it took many more years to reach Indian shores.

As for the email, it would be a non-starter without the Internet. The first major commercial ISP (Internet Service Providers) appeared between 1990 and 1995. Hotmail would hit the scene only 1996-97.

In India, despite the Educational Research Network (ERNET)’s first Internet use in 1986, commercial service reached the public only after state-owned Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) launched its net avatar in August, 1995.

B K Syngal, who was VSNL’s chairman-cum-managing director and who pioneered telecommunication in the country, took to Twitter to confirm this.
“The idea was an announcement on Independence Day. We never looked back after that. It was hailed as second independence after 1947 by press, of course services were bad initially,” said Syngal.

“This is the latest in the long series of delusional assertions, fudged claims and brazen lies uttered by Modi. These would make for a great joke if the matter was not so serious involving the post of PM,” CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said.

Trolls took their savagery to another level, equating Modi with the scientist-discoverers of Electron, Proton and Neutron. Here, his equation was as the discoverer of ‘Mitron.’ Yet, the doubting Thomases had their queries.
One of them wondered: “The question is even if he did have an email id in 1988 when the rest of the world didn’t, who was he sending emails to? ET.”

For politician Shahid Siddiqui, there was no room for doubt when he tweeted, tongue firmly in cheek: “Modi invented digital camera, email, like gas from the gutter and clouds which could not be penetrated by radars.”