Friday, 19 August 2011

The life and times of a Propaganda.

In one of his articles M J Akbar, the famous newspaper columnist, quipped, "Most dangerous lies are the ones that have elements of truth in them". Propaganda is one such lie.

Propaganda, however,has several definitions to different listeners and out of this possibility of its varied understanding emanates its pernicious nature. Nevertheless, a liberal , modernist understanding of the word happens to be , " a propagation of dis-information".  This propagation of disinformation , nevertheless, appears to be a central to  the concept of all nations. Talking in terms of India, the propagandist theories of last three to four decades show that they are perennial and have a definite travail of their lifetime.

Stages of a propagandist movement goes as follows:

i) Genesis with synthesis of theories,  together presenting a doomed and depressing nature of present state of affairs. The end result is a picture filled with horror of a doomed future, imminent on the nation.

ii) Formulisation of a clear-cut ,well chalked out strategy course , backed by historical facts and fictions,  debated out for wider appeal. The strategy gets refined with more partisan intellectual opinions and by the course of popular appeal.

iii) The immediate effect is  of establishment of the euphoria, the hope of a better world, a better place to be in, pandering to the basic human instinct of quick  and tangible change . The prized possession, the big flame of light  is  shown lying  at the end of the dark tunnel of struggle and revolt, thereby ensuing chaos.

iv) A period of immense chaos and unbridled change in scheme of things.  Popular support and a huge swell in the favor of  the theories justified by the plucking of low hanging fruits.

v) The decay at its own hand. Relegation of the idea to an undercurrent, yet not out of the public psyche, thereby establishing itself as a perennial thought which the  nation , however, has overgrown and no more propagandisation remains possible. An important consequence is the establishment of the refined thought in national psyche, sans its false elements.

Patterns, however, are always at the mercy of its concrete examples, some ascertaining it, and others forcing it to reconsider itself. Nevertheless, this pattern , presented above , fits itself beautifully into the examples drawn from Indian nation.

India saw a massive wave of Socialist propaganda in its 70s. Popular sentiments , whipped up by J P Narayan, follower of another  prominent socialist Ram Manohar Lohia, created a mirage of socialist solution to Indian problems . Corruption and tyranny of central government was attacked severely and a dream was seen through the prism of socialist ideas. People of that time, talk of that as the single most important event in the history of India, post Independence. The propaganda had its casualties, and victory too, but  soon , approximately in a decade, it was realized that this ideal was dying its own death. The idea served no panacea for the ills of Indian economy and rather stagnated it further. In quick time, it died its own death. Yet , it left a legacy behind, and an "undercurrent" , where it was established firmly into the consciousness of nation that  the state cannot separate itself from the well being of poorest and its interference was always necessary to deliver justice , both social and economic.

Another vicious propaganda of out times has been the Hindutva. Riding on the discontent of the middle class with the pseudo -secularism practiced by the  several governments of India, it established itself into the consciousness of nation. The idea of a historical Hindustan, struck chords even with the moderates who had been disillusioned by the surreptitious partisan politics of congress. The casualties have been enormous for the nation  and yet despite of all its great tidings in 90s and early 2000, it went into the background of its own. People overgrew the fanatic tirade and only the truths of it remained.  Its proponents would argue that it is still an active force, yet the same attempt to establish so, shows how much the flame has cooled down. Nevertheless, this too had the affect of establishing some truths about nation into its consciousness.  A perennial undercurent. And perhaps , it's that undercurrent that  happens to be the only threat to Congress government at center.

An another propaganda of last three to four years has been the "Green" propaganda. Doom stories floated around us about the end of earth and all  civilisation at destined date. Numerous movies based on the "green" idea presented itself on screen, Avatar being one of them. Carbon credits appeared in newspaper more than the monetary credits. The Climate summits became more important than trade summits . Media did its part in whipping up the facts and fictions and a mass hysteria took over. Pachauri and Al Gore became the most talked about people in media. But, it very soon died its own death. False and over hyped projections, by scientists especially, dented this whole movement. In India the mass let down was by Mr. Pachuri's acceptance of wrong  and far fetched estimate of melting of Himalayan glaciers. And thus, the hysteria , very soon, collapsed. No longer you see articles in paper , talking green, when consider a few years ago the major dailies of world had published a common  message on their front  page before the Copenhagen summit. Yet, it has no doubt left a consciousness into people's mind. Energy saving has become both fashionable and intelligent idea, and very certainly we need this undercurrent to remain firmly strong over time.

And last but most certainly not least is our Citizen against corruption campaign, led by the Gandhian Anna Hazare,Ramdev et al.Its seeds had been sowed by the exposure of high voltage scams in quick successions and the passionate outpouring  of the pent up anger against corruption, of this nation over the years. Another strong foundation of this movement has been the youth factor, the generation that wants  to overthrow its legacy of corruption and inefficiency and  has the confidence to take the nation to great heights. Yet, means employed are pernicious, and would have been abominable on a certain other time line. The intelligentsia has severely censured its tactics, but the promise it holds is amazing. India , freed of corruption  However , this propaganda too will die, but certainly not without its casualties. The existing order wil certainly change, but would resist itself before the breakage point, and that is important too. Rather, what a reasonably sceptic mind would see as its future, is the petering out of the movement with marked decline in  blockbuster corruption cases. But corruption , the cancer, will taker far longer to go. And that will be ensured by the undercurrent of intolerance towards corruption . Also, the large mass mobilisation of people and consequent bending of government infront of such protest has at least addressed the criticism against the sloth, undemocratic middle class.

Thus, in all of the circumstances we see that despite of the obvious fallacies of the propagandist theories and its means, they serve an important purpose of shaking the polity out of its slumber, yet at all times ensuring that the force applied isn't too strong to lead to anarchy ( it could lead to anarchy in some cases ). And, certainly when they are over , besides the benefit or loss of its casualties, what remains behind is a renewed understanding of the nation, of world and of ourselves, and establishes an undercurrent which ensures we never really forget it.

PS: Yet, talking of the lifetime of propaganda's, I wonder, when and how will the propaganda of materialism and its offshoots be dethroned.

Monday, 15 August 2011

India or Hindu-sthaan?

Hindustan is for Hindus, or at least for those who are ready and willing to realize that they are all hindus primordially. Those are not the exact words of Subramanian Swamy, but I am sure , he would not refute them. interview on Devil's Advocate.

Thus, I as a Hindu, since I know my parents have been Hindu and so have been my grandparents, have the complete right to stay in this nation, build it, relish its glory and can gleefully force those who do not conform to that idea, or leave my land. My land, India, with its borders on a tumultuous Kashmir, barren Kutch, peninsular south and west, cultural east and little known hill ranges of far east. This is my home. Here the Aryans , purportedly my forefathers, had come from  european midst and settled. Here, they setup a system and organization, of caste and creeds, of orders , wrote books that pre-dates any such thoughtful books from other parts of world, and set up a path for us and generations to follow. 

There were some irritants here back then too, Dravidians and native Indians, but they were moved to the lower rungs of society, the present day Dalits, and other backward classes. Some Buddha and Mahavir's created their own religion and took separate ways, even the mighty king Ashok, whose empire was bigger than present day India, and who happened to be a Hindu basically, adopted Buddhism and facilitated its spread. Nevertheless, there the Hindu way of life persisted and moved through all of it.

Sadly, history has no clear account of the demise of this order , but very certainly this society degraded over time and paved way for foreign conquerors . The Genghis khan, the Taimur ,the Mahmud Ghazni. They were all  ruthless and with the greed of money and zeal of spreading islam settled on my land and sowed the seed of Islam in india. The order of country changed and remained so for several years then. Along came then Mughals in avatars of Aurangzeb, Shahjahan, and Akbar . Some like Akbar, got moulded  to the Hindu value system while others stayed true to their "aggressive" propulsion of Islam. Again , with the wave, some "Hindus" transformed their religion to Islam. An another attempt at propagating the religion that was not of the land, but of the rulers, yet, Hindu way of life was not ready to give in and yet and persisted along side this aggression too.

Yet with time , they degraded too, and gave way to modern industrial power of Britain, and along came the wave of Christianity, thus mounting another serious attack on my culture and religion. The repression increased day after day, and all of that led to the increased idea of a foreign power ruling the Indian land, people from all spheres of religion and creed came together to overthrow the repressive foreign power, and yet at the same time, the original dwellers like us, the Hindus, realized how different were we from the muslims. the muslims had been the forceful converts  of Islam, who had refused to adapt themselves with the changing time and led themselves to the more conservative ways of life.  

My forefathers, took note of the situation, and helped , to push the divide further ahead and carved out a separate land for them. Not sure how that land was separate from mine, but there was no other way to buy peace. The other side too thought,  they had won the world for themselves. They moved to the other land, carved out of my own land. The problem was to have been resolved back then, with a separate land but , the situation did not get better, for more than who had left stayed back in my country, they did not leave my country. It was sad,  considering that we had already given a part of my land to them.  

My dream to have my own land had  not ben fulfilled by my fathers. They could not pull out the people who had been destroying the ethic of this country, planting bombs, increasing its population. The problem persists till today, and none have been able to solve it. However, with this forceful rise of Hindutva brigade, which I am sure is to the advantage of my community, I can hope to get my land back, purified, and distilled of all the impurities that have poured into it. 

Actually, I had a dream last night, where this dream had  been realized. This land had been combed out of all non-believers , especially muslims, especially those not conforming to Hindu value system. Yeah there were other groups too that have been ousted. The parsis, the christians et al. And now, all that remains is the Hind , the land of Hindus.  There had been a televised relay of the adress to this nation. Never before has such homogenization been achieved. India had agreed to accept Hindi as the national language, the southern dissenters had been obliterated. Even the variants of the national language, the different dialects had been scheduled to be phased out. English education had been done away with and the reading of Gita in schools had been mandated.  There had been an attempt by some spiritualists to treat Gita as the doctrine of human struggle, but those dissenters have again been suppressed, and the Krishna of Gita has been established as the universal god . Again, revolting shaivaites have been obliterated. A clear policy of obliteration has  been framed. Either the individual agrees to the laid out Hindutva policy or leaves the country. This has been the most important process and step towards cleansing the country.Also, now there is no more confusion of gods . Ranging from tribals to all groups have been mandated to worship a uniform god, with Rama being the pioneer among all. India becomes  Hindu-sthan!


I am no longer allowed to write in english. Hindi has been made compulsory. All its dialects have been absorbed in it, for the sake of a uniform Hindu-sthan! I could not write anymore, there wasn't much time left. There were dissents, at such dissolution of language, but there was only one answer to such protest. Exile! And now, there is no land ..., no nation , no Hindustan!!

And then my eyes opened. Wide open!!! Once could have been this imaginary person  ...


What is the trouble of India, then?  I belong to erstwhile Zamindar family and people who worked for us have been the Dalits, chamars and et al. They still live in that same ghetto. I asked one of them  on the eve of a Republic day, what do you think is the event  tomorrow . He didn't know, besides the fact that there would be flag hoisting and free distribution of sweets. I asked him , what was his nation? He said shyly, Kumhar of raiyaam , Madhubani zilla. I asked him next, what does he think India is? He said, New Delhi, without waiting. One of my cooks over here too had something similar to answer, "I am from Balasore , Orissa. Upper caste farmer and 26th  January is celebrated for hoisting flag. " There is a very easy way to shun these statements, the speakers are all illiterate. Well, that is my point too,  albeit there is an another step too.

Nation is a tyranny of majority over minorities. And Hindutva - the fundamentalist brigade ( a mimic of fundamentalist structure of Christianity and Islam) , although noble in its view ,  seeks to attain homogenization which is in turn going to trample and traduce all the minorities. Nation is a modern concept. People , civilisation and cultures are way older than that. It is the  people who are to form nation and it is for that reason, if India is any nation it is made of people who are all minorities, at some level of distinction. The educated and literate Indians  with fundamentalist bent have tyrannically denied this right to minorities. But the groups have revolted. The Dalits do not  agree to  the"Hindu"  bandwagon anymore now. The tribals , are eager to maintain their separate identity. So is every such small group from north to south of the country. The Dravidians want to remain uniquely different from the north, the Marathis,Tamils revolt against the language tyranny of Hindi belt. And it has to be understood deep down, that India is a conglomerate of all such minorities, all at different levels. 

But why is this considered a problem for the country when actually this is its strength. Aren't we overlooking the real problems and creating a facade of parochialism. The country has severe real issues to grapple with. Poverty, malnutrition, liberal capitalism destroying the ethnic value system and pushing the helpless further to the brinks of society. Why shouldn't we instead talk of that? I do not have figures , but I am sure the deaths and devastation caused by such factors would be way more than by the sum total of the casualties of  terror attacks . True there has ben terrorism , and on indian soil majorly in the name of Islam, but that does not explain the other problems that India is grappling with. The maoist problem is no less dangerous.  The amount of destruction and  havoc that they have caused isn't any less either. But they are not discussed by Subramanian Swamy ( He would say, he has written about it in another book!), because  it is  terrorist who are hitting at middle class, the hotbed for Hindu fundamentalism. The class that is in look out of an ideology to live by, the consumerist class that has forgotten the ideals of Gandhi and Nehru and seeks to establish itself globally with a distinctively unique identity and for that it needs a distinctive label on its cover. The Hindu! 

But this could not be further from truth. Who is a Hindu after all? And what is Hindustan? So far as I  understand,  and as far as the history understands, it is a conglomerate of minorities, at different levels.
The coorgis, the tamils, the kannadigas, the keralites, the mangaloreans, the gujarati, punjabi, muslims, vaishnava, shaivaties, spiritualist , atheists, marathi, bihari, maithils, telangana, parsi., mallu christians, mallu muslims.This diversity, the Hinduism brigade is trying to dissolve into one "melting pot" of  "Hindu philosophy", but this model cannot work for a country as diverse as India. The melting pot would only tyrannize the minorities, The melting pot of US had consumerism as the common idea, but  India  with its diversity and philosophy and population cannot and does not fit the framework. It is a multicultural reality . It is only one as a combination of whole .

So today when I see the Hinduism brigade getting stronger among the middle class , I lament the doom of this multicultural nation. Yet, this survey, also provided a heartening report that the people who harbor such views are a minority , just as the other minorities of country. BJP is in decline in all states ( except Gujarat  and Bihar)  for different reasons of course, and for sure the Hindutva Rhetoric doesn't work in Bihar. Also, BJP as a political party, refrains from expressing its hardline views, which it clearly understands will only alienate further its vote base.  

For, Subramanian Swamy, with all due respect for his knowledge and grit, for I know his aims are noble, I feel the following line of Neitzsche  is most apt.

"If you look for too long into abyss, the abyss looks back into you".

In the fight of good against bad, good has to remember that it is not bad!
Hence, although the easy way out ( not politically, of course)  to homogenize the country, to tyrannize, after all nations are the same and do the same, our greatness lies in holding together all the minorities and worshiping this idea of  unified India. Something , for which our forefathers laid their lives and all that came with it.

Yet, I know it's difficult to persuade people back to this all encompassing view.Perhaps ,we all need our own moments of realization. My moment had been as a school kid, when on one of the 14th of August, out of brazenness of school kid I went to my friend, who was a muslim ( and might be reading this article now)  and wished him Happy Independence day , with a smirk on my face. He didn't reply, but there was a look on his face that I have found difficult to efface from my memory. The look was  not only of anger , but of dejection, of denial, of a helplessness, and I see the same face around me , whenever I see people talking of a nation as theirs and not of others, and that was the  day I realized, the maxim,that if there has to be a discussion on  nation among Indians, it belongs as much to him as to me. So, Mr. Swamy, if there are problems, use your knowledge and skill to solve them  for all Indians instead of deepening the divide and destroying the very fabric of nation. On this Independence day let's together recognize this ideal freedom fighters and martyrs fought with, that of unifying and seeing the nation as a sum of its parts. We can of course do that! 

Jai Hind!

PS: Subramnian Swamy also said in his interview that 98% of Hindus think as he does, well, I for sure belong to the 2% then, and you?