Will Indians learn 'how to eat mangoes' (and how to roast Modi) from John Oliver?

The comedian was proven right—his last episode on the former PM was not aired in India; but his two parody microsites went live today, circumventing the blackout

UK comedian John Oliver critically examines the 2024 Indian general elections
UK comedian John Oliver critically examines the 2024 Indian general elections

Akanksha Biradar

John Oliver's two microsites — How to Eat Mangoes and Opposite Snakes — went live today. This is a gem in the history of political roasts, surely, for it circumvents the blackout in India of his latest episode of Last Week Tonight — on the 'Indian Elections, Trump & Red Lobster'.

The UK comedian critically examined the 2024 Indian general elections there, focusing on Narendra Modi’s policies, media influence and Hindu nationalism.

The show typically airs on HBO on Sundays, and is telecast by JioCinema in India the next day. But this time, it seems to be 'delayed', seemingly indefinitely.

In that last episode, Oliver had taken potshots at Modi’s popularity, controversial policies and media manipulation—and shared his apprehension that this would get him censored in India. As 'insurance', he shared on social media the workaround for his followers as well—two microsites, to go live on 7 June, after the counting of votes and hopefully the jockeying for power amongst the various parties was done and dusted (so that no one might cry 'undue influence'? or was it to give Reliance/Ambani-owned Jio to change its mind?).

Amongst Oliver's humorous critiques in this last episode were those of Modi’s approval ratings, the BJP’s communal propaganda and the stifling of critical voices in Indian media.

Oliver has previously too, in 2020, dwelled on Modi during the CAA/NRC protests, highlighting his RSS roots and role in the 2002 Gujurat riots. He said, "It is extremely worrying to have a Prime Minister with that association especially as India has always struggled to balance its ideals of tolerance and the reality of religious tensions, which have erupted multiple times. And unfortunately, Modi himself was right at the centre of one of those eruptions."

The Modi government also banned the BBC documentary 'India: The Modi Question' that investigated his role (or lack thereof) in the 2002 Godhra riots. This move invoked the government's emergency powers under the 2021 IT Rules—and drew an outcry, national and international, against diminishing press freedom and rampant censorship in India.

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