MisaKotha.com: The Art of Lying!
~Himanta Biswa Sarma
“We always fight for the truth. We appreciate Misakotha.com as they also try to establish the truth.”
While the State Education Minister and the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity Leader might be at loggerheads on almost all issues, but they’re bound to agree to the fact that Misakotha.com has taken Assam by storm. With over 1500 ‘likes’ on Facebook, the popular social networking site, and a published interview in the May issue of Eclectic Vibes, Misakotha.com has been able to amass a band of religious followers among the netizens of Assam within a very short period, spanning hardly 4 months.
So the nagging question in everyone’s minds- what is Misakotha.com? Launched on March 13, this year, Misakotha.com is a fake news website dishing out its own brand of satire. Misakotha.com started with a bang- “Tarun Gogoi says he’s better than Nitish Kumar (March 14) “or sample this “Sheikh Hasina to campaign in Assam (March 16)” or “AGP to ensure increase in Elephant population in Assam”. As the state was gripped with Election fever at the time, the posts appealed to the netizens simply for their deadpan style of satire. Once the ‘likes’ started coming in, it hasn’t stopped yet. Misakotha.com is Assam’s reply to the hugely popular American website theonion.com and India’s own fakingnews.com.
Whether it is politics, sports, films, society, science or business, Misakotha.com has its own take on all burning issues that is plaguing the state. If it is “Akhil Gogoi and Tarun Gogoi play together in Accoland Park” today, tomorrow it is “Bharat Narah buys Google”; creating awareness about the State’s major issues while keeping them in good-humour all the same through witty caricature of political figures. When it comes to Misakotha.com, reputations have crumbled like a pack of cards. Perhaps this is the single-most driving factor that has largely contributed to its huge success. It’s like getting a free-invite to a party where you can give public-bashing to your most hated political figures and also get away with it! Now who doesn’t want that? 😉
The denizens are by and large greatly frustrated by the tasteless and single-dimensional news broadcasted by the media network. Mainstream media sometimes lack the sting in their attacks or are mostly viewed by the general populace as having allegiance to a certain political party, losing their credibility in the process. At times, when you ruffle the feathers of some power-house, there is the obvious threat to your existence and the ghost of hostilities looms large in your life. Journalism sometimes gets compromised in view of the above factors and the role of the Fourth Pillar of Democracy is diluted. Misakotha.com, in this view enjoys an advantage in the form of anonymity. It can tear apart any political figure without having to resort to a direct attack, rather play on the subtle connotations or amplify the adverse fall-out into a hilarious hypothetical situation.
Fake news isn’t new to Assam. In fact the giant of Assamese satire, Lakhminath Bezbarua wrote many satirical articles under the penname of ‘Kripabor Barua’ in Jonaki, the leading magazine of his times and tried to create nationalistic sentiments through the same. That’s how Misakotha.com got the name of its Editor in the first place. Through his opus ‘Kripabor Baruar Kakotor Topola’, Lakhminath Bezbarua delineated the imperfections that enshrouded Assamese society at that time. Misakotha.com has embarked on a similar endeavour, continuing Lakhminath Bezbarua’s legacy in the 21st century. With the passage of time, our society has undergone tremendous changes and along with it, the issues confronting the society have also varied. However the need or relevance for such a movement hasn’t diminished one bit. In fact since the 70s Assamese Art and Literature seems to have spiraled downhill- a reflection of the society’s desolate state. Hence the revival of the movement in the form of Misakotha.com can be regarded as a very welcome development.
The contributors and founders of Misakotha.com have remained anonymous so far- camouflaged brilliantly behind the veil of some fictional characters. Kripabor Baruah is at the helm of affairs and his coterie of reporters Nogen, Brikudor, Mrs. Bhodori Xixooram etc. make sure that the ink of satire never dries out at Misakotha.com nor its relevancy in the state-de affairs. This has far from being a shortcoming, has turned out to be trump card for Misakotha.com as it gives it an unprecedented advantage over its peers in mainstream journalism-the exclusive rights of taking pot-shots at everything without having to fear for repercussions.
Misakotha.com is a movement that endeavours to infuse nationalism in the minds of the people. The Assam Agitation was a significant chapter in the annals of Assam History. However since then, much water has flown under the bridge. The dream of a glorious Assam has still remained a dream, instead languishing in the maze of political dogmas. In addition, some of the leaders of the agitation have lost credibility if the recent loss of Prafulla Kumar Mahanta in the state Elections is anything to go by. There is an ensuing void in the Assamese society today and with no succour in sight; there is an imminent danger to the existence of Assamese values, culture and its true identity. The advent of Misakotha.com at such a critical point in Assam’s history is crucial. It has provided the much-needed trustworthy platform through which people can challenge the State institutions which they believe are failing them.
The recent state elections saw a strong mandate being given to the INC to form the Government for the 3rd time in a row whereas the opposition has been reduced to a negligible presence in the Assam political scenario. At such a point, a higher obligation rests on the shoulders of Misakotha.com to step in the shoes of the opposition. In a democracy, a weak Opposition may lead to Oligarchy. Therefore the public instruments need to be revitalized and be vocal about any discrepancies in the system.
And those for whom politics isn’t their cup of tea, you needn’t worry. Misakotha.com packs in satire of myriad genres. The state’s only satirical website comes out with periodic posts on Films, Wildlife, Education etc. which caters to the diverse tastes of its followers. Misakotha.com is like that cartoon strip in your morning newspaper feeding you with your daily dose of humour. A fresh aroma of crisp punches that tickles your laughing bone!
At a time when yellow journalism seems to have infiltrated Assam’s media scenario, Misakotha.com comes as a welcome reprieve. Going by the ‘likes’ on its Facebook page, it’s heartening to see the overwhelming response by the netizens of Assam. Life in today’s world is already brimmed with worries and complications. The acts of gory and wrong-doing being televised have turned into a trauma for most people-thanks to today’s real-time broadcasting by news channels and the proliferation of internet. After a tiring day at work, no one wants to go through the constant gibbering blah-blah over some act of graft, theft or killing in the news channels whose primary motives being either to gain TRPs or be in bed with the ruling coalition and gain some financial favours. A calm, relaxed ambience is very much the need of the hour after winding up an arduous day’s work. This is where Misakotha.com comes in-serving its followers with its own variety of Assam-centric satire-news dripped in x-factor!
Nevertheless there are a few areas in which the website has to develop. The posts are, for the most part, sporadic with no given time-frame. At times there is a lull between two posts spanning 5 days at a stretch which is somewhat unacceptable. A periodic posting scheme is the need of the hour. In addition the posts aren’t equivalently distributed in all categories. The politics section is grossly overpopulated while the rest are made to look as trifling sub-categories. There is a scope of improvement in other areas as well. I hope that Kripabor Baruah would look into the matter as soon as possible. All things considered, Misakotha.com is still very much in its infancy and so it would be premature to judge at this point of time.
On a concluding note, I give Kripabor Baruah and his team at Misakotha.com my heartiest compliments for the inception of this wonderful website. May the Lols , Roflmaos and the Lmaos keep coming and the ‘river of humour’ never dries in Assam!
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