Propaganda Power - The New Indian Express

Propaganda Power

Published: 12th April 2014 12:44 PM

Last Updated: 12th April 2014 04:32 PM

Successful propaganda is about hiding the truth behind rhetoric while producing facts with a suitable twist. The Holocaust unleashed by Adolf Hitler found support in the atavistic fear of Jews as Shylockian enemies of Christianity, drinking the blood of little European children and consorting with the Devil in clandestine Zionist rituals. Ironically, a recent DNA test proved Hitler’s niece and wife Eva Braun had Jewish ancestry. The savage, history-numbing massacres of the Crusades happened centuries ago, but Arab hatred of Israel is incandescent, though they share the same DNA. The success of propaganda is all about atmosphere.

In the overheated election climate, the anti-Modi industry is thriving. Labels are powerful propaganda tools. Sonia Gandhi’s barb, maut ka saudagar, portrayed Modi as the bloody architect of the Gujarat riots. It found echoes within the BJP with those worried about his ascent and their eclipse. That Atal Bihari Vajpayee asked Modi to resign after the riots is widely quoted by saffron secularists as validation of his monstership—ergo, it would be dangerous to promote Modi in a country where 138 million Muslims live. Sting ops tried to implicate him in the riots. Influential celebrities and activists filed cases and petitions. Some like Teesta Setalvad were exposed in court for bribing witnesses. Others got AAP tickets. Police officers appeared out of the woodwork, claiming that Modi was present in the police control room as Hindu mobs looted, raped and killed. Everywhere epithets exploded—tea seller, pink revolutionary, leader of non-vegetarians, lahu purush (man of blood), monkey on a tree, rat compared to Sardar Patel, Ravana, and a man who fails to recognise his wife. The bias became shriller as the poll pitch rose: action was sought and taken against Modi aide Amit Shah for seeking badla (revenge) in Muzaffarnagar without mentioning that he insisted that revenge be taken through the ballot box and not through violence.

In the din of Modi-obsessed propaganda, where have all the issues vanished? One-fourth of India’s 1.2 billion people goes hungry; even as the top 5 per cent of Indian households possess 38 per cent of total assets, the bottom 60 per cent owns just 13 per cent. Only around 40 per cent of rural India has electricity. Thirty per cent of India’s rural population has no drinking water. 638 million Indians—over half the total population—defecate in the open. There is only one hospital bed per 879 people—India needs another 5,96,589. There is only one doctor for 1,700 Indians; we need four lakh more by 2020. A dowry death happens every hour—the national crime graph against women witnessed a 6.8 per cent rise in 2012. India’s forest cover has decreased by 367 sq km. Under A K Antony, armed forces have rusted: ships and submarines sink or catch fire claiming casualties, procurements have been either halted or are proceeding tortoise-fashion that could leave India far behind Pakistan and China in defence capability soon. The delay is bleeding the budget—for example, by January 2014, the cost of the Rafale deal had escalated by 100 per cent and of howitzer by 75 per cent. The longer the wait, the more obsolete the purchase. RBI raised interests thrice since September to curb inflation. Onion prices defeated the Congress in Delhi.

The question whether the Gujarat model is just pro-Modi propaganda is an obsessive topic with politicians and columnists. Gujarat tops decadal agricultural growth at 10.97 per cent against the 4 per cent national target set by the Centre. The state garnered `81,032 crore as investment as India’s economic growth slumped to a 10-year low. Unemployment in Gujarat is only 1 per cent while the national average is 38 per cent. Hundred per cent of homes in the state are electrified. Its GDP growth is one of the highest in India. Even in sectors it fares not as well, it’s nowhere in the bottom half. Can the Gujarat model work in India? In propaganda’s maze of mirrors, the answer lies hidden between hope and the truth.

ravi@newindianexpress.com

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