The idea of India as a secular, socialist and democratic entity risks being altered and along with that the way we live, identify ourselves and think
ANURADHA BHASIN JAMWAL
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f the well oiled, most crafty propaganda machinery, has its way, we may well be on the road to a quick reversal in history, turning and distorting everything India has stood for in the last six decades. If anybody’s suffering from happy illusions of reversing the trend of corruption, it may be a blunder caused by a collective myopia that the nation is suffering from.
Nothing but the idea of India as a secular, socialist and democratic entity is at the peril of being altered and along with that the way we live, identify ourselves and think. And the threat is from within; no longer limited to the fringe fanatic right wing, hardcore Hindutva finds a wider appeal with sophistry of ‘change’ being used as a euphemism to hide all its ugliness and everything it stands for.
The blame can’t entirely lie on saffron brigade and its well played cards of penetrating into the society simultaneously with its hate soaked philosophy and promise of economic growth. Nor on the secular political groups that created the vacuum due to multiplicity of errors for such philosophy and propaganda to capture. It is as much a fault of ignorance of masses and more than the disappearance of visionary thinkers and intellectuals.
In times of crisis, every society is guided not just by its leaders but also its thinkers and intellectuals. It is also guided by a public understanding of issues and limitations informed by rational arguments and debates in pursuit of sketching a vision.
The very downfall of a nation begins when its intellectual class shrinks, goes into submissive silence or at best transforms itself into a battery of political pundits and spin doctors, aggressively circulating a superficial discourse dictated less by reason and more by material conditions.
Much of the intellectual voices that come into public domain come through the media, which in turn, having submitted itself to a priority of not truth telling but financial concerns, churns out a one-sided discourse laced with multiple lies, told and re-told till lies become truth just like war becomes peace and night turns into day.
The media functions with the tacit backing of the corporate and the very same corporate interest plays an influential role in electoral politics in pursuit of socio-economic and political policies that would serve the interest of the powerful and influential few at the cost of further marginalization of the teeming millions. The media and the influential intellectuals within its circuit perform the role of conduits, becoming fully soluble and disappearing in this cocktail of political power and money power.
They only rise up, indoctrinated, to tell us that populist politics, aimed obviously at garnering votes, are not in the good interest of the country; these are vote bank politics. What they don’t say is that what isn’t populist is pro-corporate and business interest, dictated and empowered by the influence of money.
This propaganda machinery is crafty; it knows how to lace such bitter truths with sugar coating of lies and lopsided logics, it knows how to project a model of fascism and neo-capitalism in a package of economic growth and development, as if development itself is anti-populist.
The intellectuals turned spin doctors tell us with as much conviction as they have talked about social welfare, secularism and democracy in the past that Narendra Modi is not an epitome of communalism or fascism and even as all our confidence is lost in a bevy of politicians, we must solely repose our trust in him, just that one man, vest all our energies in him, empower him and believe that he alone can lead us, bail us out of a mess of corruption, inflation, inequalities and whatnot.
We are told that the best interests of democracy are served in subjugating ourselves to the authority of that one man. We are told he is a changed man, not the one who a decade back dipped his hands in the bloodbath of Gujarat, as if he’s dropped anew from the skies. As if, he has no RSS connection or RSS does not have a background of communal politics of eulogizing Nazi politics, of opposing democratic form of government and of violent terror tactics including bomb blasts.
Consent is being manufactured about a mediocre man’s super charisma and the television channels talk round the clock about massive road shows as if they all happen magically without the flow of money.
He is being talked about as the new avtar of Indian politics in its most pristine form, as the ‘loh purush’ and a man of action even as he looks the other way when his Man Friday Amit Shah resorts to communal jargon, his ardent supporter Giriraj Singh talks of sending all Modi dissenters to Pakistan or even more virulently his ally Praveen Togadia talks of legitimizing the right to snatch properties of Muslims.
All he does is belatedly talk of restraint, not ‘iron’ action. The television channels make much noise about the ugliness of such undemocratic and communal voices for a day and then all animosity disappears sweetened by the fatness of their propelled hero’s new road show, the strength of which is deemed to be the strength of his popularity.
He is still analysed to be the right choice, the only choice even as he throws subtle hints of his own communal bias and talks about treating everyone equal, not as much talking about equal opportunities for all included the oppressed minorities and even more socially and economically oppressed classes but about the right to equality without ensuring an equal starting line for all to compete.
He offers a Darwinian model of equality where survival ultimately depends on power and influence of the mighty and intellectual discourse goes overboard with how good this may be for the nation, for democracy.
Of course, there are a few dissenting intellectuals, those typical skeptic morons whose noises get overshadowed in the din; they are rendered as handicapped and disabled as the One-Eyed man in H.G. Well’s ‘Country of the Blind’.
Their sense of reason neither sounds fashionable, nor is it something that is in demand because it provokes rational thinking and thinking itself has been subtly de-legitimized amid an artificially created wave, sketched on the basis of money power and muscle power.
India seems to have gone beyond Orwell’s 1984 where thinking need not be a proclaimed crime, the public has been willingly seduced into renouncing it for the sake of the national interest that is pivoted around one man, so magnified to hide the army of Hindutva ideology and manpower hiding inside this Trojan horse. The remnant, stubborn, skeptic rational thinkers would be discarded, pushed into Pakistan, as Modi aide would want, a euphemism perhaps for Orwell’s Room 101.
Everyone is drunk on the built up euphoria and are further enriching the dominant discourse that perverts the whole understanding of democracy and brings to fore the worthlessness of our education system that fails to inspire a critical public debate, a debate where democracy, development and governance are treated as evolutionary process; not as some kind of a magical power vested in the hands of a man propped up by a corporate backed fascist power. Rationality finds no space as everyone is blinded by a Shakespearean love potion in this festival of electoral mid-summer madness.
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