Shivam Shankar Singh Profile picture
Author - The Art of Conjuring Alternate Realities, HarperCollins | How to Win an Indian Election, Penguin | Schwarzman Scholar ‘22 | LAMP Fellow '16 |
25 Aug
PSUs are loss making so they were bad is something you can say today, but PSUs built India!

A lot of them are actually profitable, but even the loss making ones were essential to India developing. People blindly support Modi’s rhetoric because they have no context…
India at independence didn’t have food to feed its people, let alone capital to build industry. If we got private foreign capital, foreigners would have owned India even after independence.

Literally the only way out was for the government to build basic capacity!
Companies like Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC) we’re established with Russian help and technology transfer. They made machines required for making steel, and that’s how the private sector could eventually make steel!
Read 5 tweets
9 Aug
In the center of India’s national capital people raised slogans calling for the genocide of Muslims.

Police isn’t acting, FIR against “unknown” people, even though there’s footage to identify many, and the organisers are known.

We all know this. Where do we go from here?
We know our society has been polarised by the ruling party, we know they continue to encourage it because it helps their politics.

We also know they have a vice like grip on institutions and the culprits can stay emboldened knowing they are protected, and might be promoted!
Criticism of it is essential, but while writing the book, @iam_anandv and I debated continuously on where we’re headed and what can be done about it… there is a lot to be done, and this environment that’s engulfed India must be countered.

It’s not an easy job, and really…
Read 10 tweets
28 Jul
A Gujarat Cadre IPS known to be close to Modi and embroiled in controversy in CBI being made Delhi CP days before retirement actually tells you a lot!

1 - They know the voters don’t know or care, so why bother with morality and propriety.

2 - Your opinion doesn’t matter. You’re
An urban naxal, intellectual if you want to speak on morality and what’s right.

3 - They’ll do anything for entrenching power, no matter how it looks.

Place own people - even if tainted / incompetent - everywhere from business to colleges to offices, they’ll get the reigns.
4 - The message to others is clear - be a good puppet, and you’ll be rewarded, if not, you’ll be raided.

5 - They’re sure there’s no political cost to being blatantly in the wrong! Do total nepotism, place cronys, arrest critics, spy… none of it hurts their base.
Read 4 tweets
21 Jul
All rational people understand the #Pegasus disclosures have nothing to do with India’s monsoon session, or a conspiracy against India. It has everything to do with BJP spying on people for political gains!

Why do BJP leaders still keep repeating conspiracy theories?
It’s not for the rational audience. It is for the supporters they’ve primed to believe their theories of victimhood for years now.

India is under threat from mysterious global powers and opposition is conspiring with them. Hindus are under threat…
People didn’t come to believe this instantaneously. An entire campaign was waged to convince them of this, and now that they’re primed, BJP uses it to justify the illegal acts it indulged in for grabbing and retaining power.

Many authoritarians follow the same script.
Read 11 tweets
20 Jul
Ran a reset on all devices today after the #PegasusSnoopgate reveals, and can’t even imagine what I was missing!

Everything is so much faster and glitch free! Especially the phone!! This has been a great decision, regardless of spyware. Also… kind of emotionally cleansing!
Weird to say this, but we all hold on to a lot. Pictures, texts, screenshots that we are so worried about preserving. We never look at them, but can’t let it go either…

Well, letting it go is oddly refreshing!

PS: I ran Amnesty and Citizen Lab icos on them before the wipes.
Didn’t have Pegasus on the devices. Cleaned it all up permanently anyways because when it comes to cyber, the weakest link often isn’t the tech, it’s the human emotions.

Attachment to data, curiosity to click unknown links, plugging in random USB drives - letting this go is key!
Read 4 tweets
18 Jul
While you follow the #Pegasus #spygate stories, remember that it costs $7-8 Million per license, and one license can be used on 50 phones.

It throws off ALL data - calls, messages, keystrokes, remote activation of camera + microphone… complete access. What this means is…
That a significantly large team is required to sift through it all.

It isn’t mass surveillance automatically looking for keywords in conversations, it’s targeted and total surveillance of a small group of individuals… Someone is manually going through it all.
This raises an important question that won’t be answered today… who are these people doing the snooping?

We know it’s the govt, but who in it? It’s likely it’s under MHA, but someone must follow up exactly who… the potential for misuse and blackmail is tremendous.
Read 12 tweets
18 Jul
Sure there are many activists, journalists, judges and bureaucrats whose phones were illegally tapped by this Govt, but what’ll surprise many is how many BJP and RSS people who are considered close to Modi were tapped!

Why? Because the regime depends on sycophancy.
They depend on controlling the information environment to dominate your thoughts. Media is only the first and most obvious lair.

To make it sustain, all institutions and people must be brought under control. This includes their own leaders - they have to make sure…
That the Bhakti is real, and to keep blackmail material ready in case it starts diminishing.

It’s for this information control that they’re fighting Facebook and Twitter, through which a lot of information flows. And why all statistical bodies of India have been destroyed.
Read 9 tweets
16 Jul
This sentiment exists in the minds of so many because they’ve fully accepted an alternate reality that BJP has created - that highlighting failures means you’re anti-India, and if you’re Muslim you’re obviously anti-India… How did they do this?
The branding of students, activists and critics wasn’t an isolated act. It was actions done for a larger purpose - to conjure the reality that so many people inside India are against the country.

Many think it’s to scare critics, and it is in part, but even bigger reason:
It gives their supporters an enemy to hate. And gives them ammunition to deflect any legitimate criticism.

Instead of rage being directed against them for failing during 2nd wave, and actively making it worse, they redirected anger against those who covered it!
Read 4 tweets
28 May
I am pro vaccines and I also want government to release important data surrounding it. That’s not hesitancy, it’s common sense.

What data do I want?

- Covaxin Phase 3 trial, peer reviewed.

- How many got COVID after 1st, 2nd dose. With what variant. (We need genome sequencing)
- How many had to get hospitalised, died after vaccines (1st and 2nd dose breakup. Covaxin / Covishield breakup, state and region wise.

- Status of variant identification in India. Because with these many cases, virus has a much higher chance of mutating. Must be tracked.
Without such data, impossible to make informed calls on policy. Our great Govt operates entirely on one man’s feelings and gut instead of data. It’s proven this is a horrible way to do things.

Why I want the data instead of just accepting the efficacy data out there? Or UK data?
Read 6 tweets
28 May
Demand traceability that’ll break encryption - claim we respect privacy.

Try to censor everyone on SM except your abusive trolls - claim we love free speech.

Ensure farmers get less and consumers pay more - claim we’re doubling their income.

Keep increasing fuel prices...
Claim “global rates” even when they’re the lowest they’ve been in decades!

First claim Modi’s made Indian image amazing internationally, yay Modi. Then switch to world is against us, defaming us, conspiracy, when they report the truth of your failure.

The vaccine order claims,
All clear lies and falsehoods.

They’ve demolished all institutions that had credibility, removed all competent people and placed in sycophants that’ll lie and say nonsense all day for them, including a Health Min who’ll support a charlatan Coronil salesman over doctors.
Read 4 tweets
6 May
I think I’ve figured out COVID death discrepancy. Was looking at how states are compiling the death data that they release, and it’s crazier than one could imagine. [Thread]

Looked at 3 large states, but the figures they release of deaths are collected from hospitals!
The death figures you hear only counts people who died while COVID positive when admitted in a hospital!

Someone never admitted to hospital - not counted.

Someone released after being negative and dying due to post COVID complications - not counted.
Someone even dying outside the hospital, pleading for a bed - not counted!

The data is assuming COVID deaths is only COVID patients dying in a hospital, which is obviously going to lead to a massive undercounting of COVID deaths.

There is a source of the real numbers though...
Read 8 tweets
19 Apr
Why is the PM missing? Why are they campaigning in Bengal? Here’s the likely answer:

In any event, the first question he asks is what’s best for his image. It’s never what’s best for people or nation, it’s always the image.

In the current crisis, they took a concerted call...
And they reached the conclusion that staying out of reach and away from the crisis was a better bet for his image.

Thought process: Nothing to be done, we’ve already exported vaccines, not allowed foreign ones or prepared hospitals and oxygen, so people will die.
If Modi leads from the front, people will associate him with the deaths and the crisis. So he’ll do nothing.

In a few weeks, when lots have died but the situation starts to get better - oxygen, medication sorted, bed situation better, vaccines being imported and made...
Read 9 tweets
17 Apr
What can the PM do? Here’s a list for the very least!

1. Stop all public events and campaigning!

2. Ask people who can afford it to stay home.

3. Ensure oxygen and medicine supply by any means - and till that happens, give real timelines and speak the truth on situation.
4. Get oxygen plants set up - it takes 15 days by DRDO, can be done in 10.

5. Expand emergency bed capacity - stadiums, schools - put ventilators and oxygen where possible, but even basic care is better than dying outside waiting.
6. Pay for the damn VACCINES! Not funding it is criminal. Stop the data stealing app deployment, focus on giving vaccines!

7. Central Call Center to coordinate hospital, medicine and oxygen. The current system of random lists circulating is stupid and terrible! Army can man it.
Read 6 tweets
17 Apr
I helped with someone’s mother get admitted to the hospital last night.

All systems have collapsed, and your life is worth nothing. Stay isolated and don’t get the disease, because if you do it’s truly up to pure luck if you’ll make it. The system will just watch with apathy.
No one’s telling you what hospital to go to. You’ll call people in powerful places for help, and they might try. They’re flooded too.

Doctors will respond there are no beds, there is no oxygen and nothing to be done. You’ll keep calling and they’ll tell you go to XYZ hospital...
You’ll try and find an ambulance with oxygen, take your loved one to the hospital. You’ll then realise there really are no beds.

You’ll wait there, crying and calling the people who were helping while the oxygen in the ambulance also starts to run out.
Read 7 tweets
16 Feb
Many are asking how the iPhone, crypto and jobs scammer Neel that @zoo_bear has been tweeting about is RW’s fault. It’s one individual scammer.

Well, the over 50 crores in scams happened under the guise of nationalist, pro-BJP, Hindutwawadi credentials! [Thread]
The scammer used these for credibility and reach. No one would trust a random account, but many fell for it because IT Cell ecosystem amplified Neel’s hateful content, building him up!

For every 1 person who believes BJP’s hateful rhetoric, there are 10+ in it for personal gain!
From ground RSS cadres to BJPs Twitter trolls, a majority couldn’t care less about Hindutwa, Cow and India. They’re in it for personal benefit that comes in many forms. Money is one, but for many, it is:

- Recognition in the ecosystem for spreading hate.
- Retweets and likes.
Read 6 tweets
19 Nov 20
Lots of people wonder how this AAP strategy makes any sense. Strategically, it makes a lot of sense... It’s brilliant!

By attacking Congress, they position themselves as an opposition to INC - a space that BJP occupies. Then voters unhappy with INC have a choice: (Thread)
That anti INC vote can go to BJP or to AAP.

Next step in the AAP journey will be to present it’s Delhi model of schools, mohalla clinics and water+electricity to these states to show they’re better than BJP. But for now, they’ll embed in people’s minds that they’re anti INC.
There’s other stuff that AAP is doing with Hinduism - the Diwali puja and Hawans etc. that are politically ingenious.

We can all keep criticising it, but they’re doing what politically is very logical, shrewd and effective!
Read 5 tweets
13 Oct 20
[Thread] This scheme for giving villagers land title to their houses seems to have skipped public discussion, but it's shocking, and HUGE!

The government really needs to talk to people who understand how things work there! It's not like it is in cities...…
I really hope this goes smoothly, because the ability to get bank loans will indeed be a major positive for villagers - but the potential for disaster is so high, it's almost a certainty.

I told a few people in my own village about the scheme and they're in shock. Here's why:
1. Houses in villages are owned by families, not individuals. Giving a title in one person's name is a guarantee for conflict. This will happen in a significant number of cases, and then there'll be fights and bribery by a brother to get a larger share in records - inevitable.
Read 12 tweets
10 Oct 20
I always knew having a book published was a big deal, but I couldn’t pinpoint why... I’ve finally figured it out:

Lots of people have really informative blogs, columns, tweet threads, FB Pages or YouTube Channels, but a book gives you vastly superior street cred...
This, I now understand, is because a book publisher essentially validates your work with their reputation, but more importantly their money.

The other mediums are essentially free for creation. In a published book...
someone deemed it worthy enough to invest serious monetary resources into it!

A publisher thought your work is worthy enough to invest a huge sum of money into editing, printing, distributing and marketing it. That’s what gives it the credibility.
Read 5 tweets
28 Sep 20
I’m paying more tax than Donald Trump paid in the US!

After Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, Nirav Modi, DHFL and even things like WeWork, OYO and now Trump... there’s one thing I’m starting to understand about the world of money that’s very counterintuitive...
Profits don’t matter! No one who’s truly wealthy has done it by accumulating profits in their bank account.

I, like most people try and save money, maybe invest a bit and try to build passive income... that’s a good way to stable finances. It’s a terrible way to richness!
I’m starting to understand the concepts of leverage and cash flow that will destroy the minds of anyone with a normal, working professional family. We just don’t think in those terms...

The gist of how the magic of wealth happens:
Read 9 tweets
26 Sep 20
I’ve been following some data security hygiene since 2012 and some might have thought it was paranoid, but suddenly everyone thinks it’s really smart... so sharing it for your information:

1. If you don’t want your internet search known, incognito mode isn’t enough...
Good VPN + incognito of a separate browser is an okay practice.

DuckDuckGo + TOR is the best!

2. Online backups aren’t really secure unfortunately. iCloud, Google Drive have all been compromised in the past. Encrypted local storage (external HD/SSD) still wins in my book.
3. Keep 2 Factor Authentication on for everything! External token is ideal. Authenticator apps are good. SMS OTP is good enough.

4. Nostalgia is great, but don’t keep content. I stopped hoarding chat backups and documents long ago. If you stop using a device, wipe it.
Read 11 tweets
20 Sep 20
RWA updates: Who are regular members, who are associate members etc. being discussed. Very dry stuff as of now.
Wow! Major confusion created. Some people proposed that anyone not paying monthly dues should be excluded from RWA membership.

Then someone else pointed out, everyone will choose to not pay and become non-member! 😂
Discussion on non payment of dues now. Lots of people have missed payments.

Should the slate be wiped clean or should RWA collect previous missing dues?

Split opinions on this now.
Read 5 tweets