(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)
Is the tempest of vicious and venomous politics the “Curse or Course” of current Indian geo politics? The answers are exceedingly difficult to review to suggest strategic prescriptions.
Status quoits, of course, would summarily reject any “Out of Box” or radical proposals. Managing dynamic change is most challenging and difficult. For example, Gorbachev’s reforms – glasnost and perestroika – hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union than to help it. However, accept all must that we cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when creating them.
Today, Indian politics is rife with cynicism and pessimism. Many don’t vote; but most vocal critics. Those who do vote do it based on narrow parochial interests as opposed to national security interests. Least concern is political stability so vital for decisive and effective governance.
Neither idealism and excessive optimism nor pessimism and cynicism presenting diametrically opposite perspectives, therefore, can lend clarity. Even pragmatic realities considered from myopic eyes cannot also present a balanced perspective vital for forecasting future developments to define ways and means to promote and consolidate ‘end objectives’ of peace, harmony, unity and progress.
In retrospect, all one can highlight with circumspection is “lessons of treachery and intrigue to grab power are rooted in geography and history.” As a result, democracy is subverted, defaced and mutilated. And, its ‘tempest’ continues to play havoc to steer the course of the nation on even keel.
Ipso facto in 1947, what had been a morass of states became not only a unified country but also the most economically impoverished country and also inherently insecure.
“Nation under Siege” or “Nation in Perpetual Crises” is an apt summation of Indian scenario. “No light sighted at the end of the Tunnel” for stability and peace both from within and from external forces.
As majority of Indians – BPL and Low Middle Class families – are struggling to survive unable to make both ends meet, they are overwhelmed by diabolical, disrupting and disturbing political developments to include: ineffective politicians, bureaucracy and judiciary, frightening outbreaks of violence, unending high-profile terrorist attacks, unending scams, communal backsliding, anti-immigrant agitation and declining social mobility, grossly inadequate job opportunities, anti establishment rage due to growing suspicion of elites and experts, rising inequalities particularly emergence of new class super-rich families, populists spouting quack economic remedies, fake-fraud paid news partisan media, and most disturbingly allegations of partisan-cum-politicized judiciary and the military.
To survive in today’s dynamic, extraordinarily complex geo politics undergoing profound changes, leaders and political parties with divergent ideologies are forging opportunistic realignments – Aye Ram, Gaye Ram – with erstwhile political rivals they find less than ideal: policy of “Divide and Rule”, more aptly, “Divide your adversaries and Unite your friends” is all pervading political ethos.
How true is also the observation of analyst reviewing Indian political scenario, who compared it to a minimum of two ‘pied pipers’ acts. The intent of the present opposition is to lure its rats into office, position and power somehow with utter disregard to ethics, morals and values. And, the ruling elite are hell bent upon clinging to power by wooing those who give primacy to national security interests to cling to power.
Most apt is the comparison of Indian politics to the dancing elephant: ‘everyone for himself and god for us all,’ as the elephant said when he danced among the chicken.’ “Super Rich” have replaced rich at others cost.
Exciting are elections in democracy – national or state or local. However, they are always highly divisive on narrow parochial and sectarian lines. So, idealistic experts, who believe that political alignments must be based on convergence of ideologies or personalities, are living in a fool’s paradise.
Undeniablyl, “Political Grand Fraud Masters” are everywhere in all political parties. Dynasty’s, feudal and neo Maharajahs are in ruthless pursuit of power in democracy. Self aggrandizement and perpetuation of their progeny is their goal.
How true also is the tyranny of so called minorities who manoeuvre themselves into the status of a contrived majority by unholy alliances and grab power at the cost of real majority? In reality, real majority – an illusion – is reduced to the status of minority due to manipulation of caste and communal politics of polarization. “Theatre of the Absurd” is real.
“Our political system is corrupt” thundered Modi during the pre poll campaigning of 2014. In 2014, people were clearly agitated about corruption. All that changed quite dramatically during the last four years. Now, people have succumbed to the inevitability of all encompassing corruption engulfing India society.
Most important, even 70 years after gaining Independence, Indians are yet to sink and reconcile their ethnic and communal differences. National integration and unity remains a “piped dream”. Pseudo secularism and communalism are making a strong comeback for 2019 polls.
Indian democracy, caught in the vortex of vicious churning, has been rendered leaderless, rudderless, defenseless and supine. Modi has also been driven into utter state of helplessness and providing opportunity to calculating, cunning, fake and fraud leadership to emerge more powerful.
Even after blowing the trumpet of “Gharibi Hatao”, “Congress ki Hath Aam Admi ke Sath”, Shining India, Sabke Sath, Sabka Vikas etc., promising to promote the general welfare of the populations they serve, yet poverty stares the majority. Whoever promises poverty alleviation is simply fooling pliable poor.
Why such a anarchic and chaotic situation?
The use of ‘propaganda’ in pursuit of power is playing havoc. Propaganda works on the brain: through repetition, even when part of that repetition is fact-checking. Paid “Fake news or fraud news” with colorful half-truths is making waves to fool pliable or gullible people. Information feed, especially biased or misleading particularly on social networks, is designed to promote a political cause – lust for power somehow by hook or crook. None is bothered about promoting unity in diversity.
Political leaders and their spokespersons (His Masters Voices) have mastered the art and science of Goebbelsian lie: “Repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth” much like Hitler used in WWII declaring Germans as superior race.
Many Indian researchers do believe that it was Thomas Macaulay, a pioneer of English education in India who proposed the idea of a typical Goebbelsian lie. In one of his addresses to British Parliament he said that Indians are fools and we can easily play with their emotions with one simple rule – “Repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth”
Perhaps, in no place is this principle more palpable than politics particularly during the times of elections. Consider the just-concluded Karnataka campaign: poisonous postures and preposterous poll promises were invoked to win votes of pliable populace.
Quite common for all political leaders to indulge in lofty rhetoric based on ambition – solely self aggrandizement.
“Gas lighting” is the new terminology given by Trump’s critics, that is, deliberately repeating misinformation to the extent that the public starts doubting verifiable facts and believing in Trump’s self-serving talking points.
But it is wishful thinking to expect that the Goebbelsian lie or the gaslighting will be marginalized and eliminated in human discourse.
In remarkable acrimony-laced tweets setting aside modicum of cordiality, RG and the Congress is using this famous concept ably assisted by his coteries to vilify its political rivals. Political malevolence is real.
Call it the tutored or tortured political melodrama – a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions of the voters – there is no end to it what with 24 x 365 conducts of elections and politics. By oft-repeated exposure, media creates “Hero’s out of Zero’s” with sole self aggrandizement obsession with utter disregard to national security interests.
Even Kejriwal of AAP party is also exercising this idea. Modi and the BJP too are using the tool quite effectively. All political leaders and parties think that people are real fools (like Maculay), whose sentiments and emotions can be swayed to polarize the society on vote bank lines. They propose and promise anything and everything under the moon for people to swallow.
Media, if genuinely interested in national security interests, can only stop such false rhetoric to sway people’s hearts and minds. The best way to stop lending credibility to such fake or fraud stories is by stopping its repetitive coverage. As per experts views, “Avoid retelling the lies. Avoid putting them in headlines, leads or tweets. Because it is that very amplification that gives them power.” However. Media too is captive and partisan.
So, it is wishful thinking to expect that the Goebbelsian lie or the gaslighting will be marginalized and eliminated in political discourse in today’s or tomorrow’s context and content.
To redress the situation is a Himalayan challenge for the current crop of decrepit leaders. Only a New born “Avatar” can resolve the challenges created by the current crop of political leaders.
In democracy, people are the ultimate arbitress of the destiny of the nation. All one can hope and pray is for people to realize what is at stake in 2019 elections, banish separatists/secessionists, and root out pretenders, crooks and criminals in the race for leardership and opt for a politically stable government.
Otherwise, people and their elected leaders with media in tow are the most dangerous threats – curse – to national security. No need for enemies to destabilize and disintegrate modern India. (The autor is a high-profile and decorated Indian Army officer and you can reach him gundreddi5