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.

1 comment:

sireesha said...

Good one!! Sudden and strong emotions die down, but the ideas remain ingrained in people's minds...but propaganda is certainly necessary and does mark a turning point...doesn't necessarily offer a permanent solution to a problem, but brings the problem to public notice in its entirety :)
talking about your takes a whole bunch of spiritual leaders, who can truly renounce upon oath, to start propagating about materialism and one day when Indians plunder others or get plundered by can say that there would be some consciousness of materialism too among the Indians :D
Good Lord, plundering has happened earlier and happening now also...yeah but there no figures yet who brought the philosophical aspect to it