सीधे मुख्य सामग्री पर जाएं

Kerala story? How those in power seek to manipulate perceptions among masses

By Gajanan Khergamker* 

The Kerala Story, much like The Kashmir Files, furthers agendas. One, that wreaks havoc and furthers political propaganda and another, of setting the record right, for those wronged. The agenda and concurrent ire depend entirely on which side you identify with.
There are two key issues that are in contention with regard to the imminent release of ‘The Kerala Story’. The first being the figure of ‘32,000’ girls from Kerala joining ISIS and the Syro-Malabar Church’s statement in 2020 expressing concern over the “rising number of love jihad” cases in the state and calling it a part of a larger agenda of the Islamic State (IS) to “threaten the religious and social harmony of Kerala”.
The director of the film in question himself maintained that “the number doesn’t matter,” and that “even if one girl faced this, the story needs to be told.” The crux being the ‘generalisation’ that casts aspersions on Kerala as a state and affects the party in power which, inadvertently, places the blame on the Centre for manipulating perceptions. That said, following the Censor Board’s cuts, the Supreme Court has refused to stay the release of the film which will see the light of the day and create further ripples.
Those in power are known to manipulate perceptions among masses in order to further their own interests; and, it’s their manipulative processes that go on to create a narrative to their convenience. What’s news today by way of reliable communication put down in a permanent format that becomes a source of fact for historians and researchers who go on to call it history.
In order to deflect public outrage over an issue, ruling regimes are known to trigger situations at parallel times in order to dull the impact if not deter it altogether. And it isn’t that everyone falls for it either. There are sections in the informed strata of society which calls the bluff of the ruling regime even questions it as and when it can while steering clear of systemic brickbats.

History used to manipulate response

Very often, history and its perception is used to manipulate public response to further commercial interests too. The release of films based on ‘true stories’ and the responses they elicit depend almost entirely on the regime in power whose interests may be furthered by the strategic releases.
While on the one hand, the production of a film like Padmavat was shrouded with controversy from the onset itself. Starting with its very name, the film had to be screened for the benefit of a section which felt outraged and threatened violence on release. It was a slice of history and one that wreaked havoc on being told again. The choice of a history bound to rake up unpleasant memories for a film that claimed to be inspired and not a documentary claiming cent per cent truth, caused colossal damage but made news and grabbed headlines even if it were for all the wrong reasons.
For filmmakers, who thrive on documenting history for selective audiences and on platforms where they know censorship would simply not permit them to release their makes without cuts, the formula remains the same. They release a few cuts, make statements on a fact in history, stir up a controversy and all this even before approaching the censor board for a certification.
So much of history is now being relayed through medium such as film even audio-visual content and constantly being promoted through myriad means such as social media campaigns and targeted coverage even calculated controversies, that it’s nearly impossible to identify historians without an agenda.

Political parties and their bandwagons

Each political party in India now generates its own media through paid arrangements, advertorials, social media managers and spin doctors working in tandem not just to generate a narrative but also quash counter narratives or pitches that could add teeth to opponents. And, once the party loses power for whatever reason, a political opponent rises to obliterate the narrative generated by its predecessor, even change history starting with names of cities under the confidence of an opposition.
Now most regimes tend to camouflage their attempts with well-seeming acts and intentions to do public good even rectify another wrong, altogether. Whether an act is for public good or not isn’t important. What is remains the fact that it was perpetrated posing a public good in a particular regime and, swiftly dumped, when the regime loses power. It’s usually a lobby that backs up selective political decisions and attempts, albeit temporarily, to create facts and pass it off as credible history by publishing reports, creating documentation even curriculum for academia and popularise a narrative.
And, with the change in regime is a corresponding change in the lobby that works parallel in the eco-system. In time, the narrative generated also changes drastically but over so much time that it’s nearly impossible to see the shift. Right from reports to research-based documentation and curriculum for academia, everything changes in favour of the polity in power.

History is what is perceived

Heritage is what is perceived at the moment. Sometimes, it’s also what is perceived by the powerful. But, almost always, the weak’s version never ever gets to be classified as heritage which may, at best, form part of affirmative action and a spin-off that barely makes any material difference. So, the view of a powerful nation or one that owns the media or reins of populist indicators and lobbies is almost always of pivotal importance.
One good way to do so is to identify the platform on which getting published or having one’s views displayed, which decides the narrative…always. Ironically, in a democracy, the majority wins. A minority will never have the potential to catapult its view on populist platforms unless it’s part of the lobby’s alter ego and is playing bad cop, for a selective while, that is.
The struggle for control that lay mostly in the ownership of media, means of publication and production has now gone on to transcend to social media, academic narratives, political manipulations and state-sponsored entities. Now, sponsorship by the state and its entities has changed drastically over the years. With necessities and means made available and within easy reach of the masses, it’s the sharing of power and processes to dominate and subjugate strategic groups that matter.
Impressing upon locals the need to weed out ‘outsiders’ to be able to govern themselves may seem a wee excessive even unconstitutional but works like magic, everywhere. Whether it’s Goa, Karnataka, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Gujarat or Maharashtra, an insider-outsider rife and memories of a bloody incident from the past or a violent struggle etched in poetry, prose or film forms an integral part of a systematic history created to perpetrate the hatred; And, all this under the guise of a freedom, and ironically, guaranteed by the very State under threat.

Judiciary attempts to correct

A judiciary attempts to nip the scourge in the bud, as and when possible, even taking up matters Suo Moto but the narrative must be furthered to ensure power remains in the hands of the few select united. History and heritage continue to be treated as weapons of mass management by the polity and those in power.
Whether it’s a speech that may be inflammatory in content or a book of history that poses the threat of sparking violence or, lesser still, unrest and disgruntlement among a lot, it’s in the quantum of people affected that decides its credibility. If there is a risk of violence or upheaval, the law will take its course and attempts at preventive action, either politically or by resorting to the judiciary, will act in time.
But, if the people affected are weak or less powerful, read inconsequential, a skewed depiction of history in favour of the powerful will continue to trample upon the truth even valid concerns with wild abandon.
History and Heritage continue to remain the reins in the hands of the powerful and till those are not distributed by the state to reach and fulfil needs of all, even address them by sensitive censorship and timely nips, narratives will remain in the exclusive domain of the powerful few.
It’s in the progression of a free media, even social media, that history is being documented by all, the poorest, the weakest and the most fragile. It’s important to identify this history and amplify its reach strategically and not succumb to the game of algorithms and numbers.
If numbers of likes or followers on Social Media translated into real-time support, most of those sitting in the Opposition in India would be in power. And, that’s not a view but a fact!
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* The writer is Editor of The Draft. A version of this article first appeared here

टिप्पणियाँ

ट्रेंडिंग

हिंदी आलोचना जैसे पिछड़ चुके अनुशासन की जगह हिंदी वैचारिकी का विकास जरूरी

- प्रमोद रंजन*   भारतीय राजनीति में सांप्रदायिक व प्रतिक्रियावादी ताकतों को सत्ता तक पहुंचाने में हिंदी पट्टी का सबसे बड़ा योगदान है। इसका मुख्य कारण हिंदी-पट्टी में कार्यरत समाजवादी व जनपक्षधर हिरावल दस्ते का विचारहीन, अनैतिक और  प्रतिक्रियावादी होते जाना है। अगर हम उपरोक्त बातों को स्वीकार करते हैं, तो कुछ रोचक निष्कर्ष निकलते हैं। हिंदी-जनता और उसके हिरावल दस्ते को विचारहीन और प्रतिक्रियावादी बनने से रोकने की मुख्य ज़िम्मेदारी किसकी थी?

ગુજરાતના સ્થાપના દિવસે યાદ કરીએ ભારતના વિશ્વપ્રસિદ્ધ ગુજરાતી પુરાતત્વવિદ્ ને

- ગૌરાંગ જાની*  આજે કોઈ ગુજરાતી એ કલ્પના પણ ન કરી શકે કે વર્ષ ૧૮૩૯ માં જૂનાગઢમાં જન્મેલા એક ગુજરાતી વિશ્વ પ્રસિદ્ધ બની શકે! પણ આપણે એ ગુજરાતીને કદાચ વિસરી ગયા છીએ જેમણે ગિરનારના અશોક શિલાલેખને દોઢસો વર્ષ પૂર્વે ઉકેલી આપ્યો.આ વિદ્વાન એટલે ભગવાનલાલ ઈન્દ્રજી. ૭ નવેમ્બર, ૧૮૩૯ ના દિવસે જૂનાગઢના પ્રશ્નોરા નાગર બ્રાહ્મણ પરિવારમાં તેમનો જન્મ થયો હતો. જૂનાગઢના એ સમયે અંગ્રેજી શિક્ષણની સગવડ ન હોવાને કારણે તેમને અંગ્રેજી ભાષાનું જ્ઞાન ન હતું પણ પાછળથી તેમણે ખપ પૂરતું અંગ્રેજી જાણી લીધું હતું.

Under Modi, democracy is regressing and economy is also growing slowly

By Avyaan Sharma*   India is "the largest democracy in the world", but now its democracy is regressing and its economy is also growing slowly. What has PM Modi's ten years in power brought us? Unemployment remains high. Joblessness is particularly high among India's youth - with those aged 15 to 29 making up a staggering 83% of all unemployed people in India, according to the "India Employment Report 2024", published last month by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Institute of Human Development (IHD). The BJP-led government did not provide jobs to two crore youth in a year as was promised by Modi in the run up to the 2014 general elections.

नफरती बातें: मुसलमानों में असुरक्षा का भाव बढ़ रहा है, वे अपने मोहल्लों में सिमट रहे हैं

- राम पुनियानी*  भारत पर पिछले 10 सालों से हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी भारतीय जनता पार्टी (भाजपा) राज कर रही है. भाजपा आरएसएस परिवार की सदस्य है और आरएसएस का लक्ष्य है हिन्दू राष्ट्र का निर्माण. आरएसएस से जुड़ी सैंकड़ों संस्थाएँ हैं. उसके लाखों, बल्कि शायद, करोड़ों स्वयंसेवक हैं. इसके अलावा कई हजार वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता हैं जिन्हें प्रचारक कहा जाता है. भाजपा के सत्ता में आने के बाद से आरएसएस दुगनी गति से हिन्दू राष्ट्र के निर्माण के अपने एजेण्डे को पूरा करने में जुट गया है. यदि भाजपा को चुनावों में लगातार सफलता हासिल हो रही है तो उसका कारण है देश में साम्प्रदायिकता और साम्प्रदायिक मुद्दों का बढ़ता बोलबाला. इनमें से कुछ हैं राम मंदिर, गौमांस और गोवध एवं लव जिहाद. 

Laxmanpur Bathe massacre: Perfect example of proto-fascist Brahmanical social order

By Harsh Thakor  The massacre at Laxmanpur-Bathe of Jehanabad in Bihar on the night of 1 December in 1997 was a landmark event with distinguishing features .The genocide rightly shook the conscience of the nation in the 50th year of Indian independence. The scale of the carnage was unparalleled in any caste massacre. It was a perfect manifestation of how in essence the so called neo-liberal state was in essence most autocratic. 

ભારતમાં જિસસ ક્રાઈસ્ટના દર્શન, ખ્રિસ્તી ધર્મના આગમનને કારણે સમાજ વ્યવસ્થામાં પરિવર્તન

- ઉત્તમ પરમાર  મારી કિશોર અવસ્થામાં કેટલાક ચિત્રો અને મૂર્તિઓએ હૃદયમાં એવું સ્થાન જમાવ્યું છે કે આજદિન પર્યંત  ઉત્તરોઉત્તર વિકસતું જ રહ્યું છે. પ્રેમ કરુણાના મૂર્તિમંત અવતાર  જિસસ ક્રાઈસ્ટને વધુસ્તંભે ચઢાવેલી મૂર્તિ  મારી કોઈપણ ધર્મ વિશેની સમજ નહોતી ત્યારથી મારા હૃદયમાં સ્થાપિત થયેલી છે. મારા ઘરની દિવાલ પર વધસ્તંભે ચઢેલા જીસસની પ્રતિમા જોઈને કોઈ મને પૂછી બેસતું કે તું ક્રિશ્ચન છે?

रैंकिंग: अधिकांश भारतीय विश्वविद्यालयों का स्तर बहुत गिरा, इस साल भी यह गिरवाट जारी

- प्रमोद रंजन*  अप्रैल, 2024 में भारतीय विश्वविद्यालयों की अंतर्राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर उच्च रैंकिंग की चर्चा रही। मीडिया ने इसका उत्सव मनाया। लेकिन स्थिति इसके विपरीत है। वैश्विक विश्वविद्यालय रैंकिग में अच्छा स्थान मिलने की खबरें, कुछ संस्थानों को इक्का-दुक्का विषयों में मिले रैंक के आधार पर चुनिंदा ढंग से प्रकाशित की गईं थीं। वास्तविकता यह है कि हाल के वर्षों में हमारे अधिकांश विश्वविद्यालयों का स्तर बहुत गिर गया है। इस साल भी यह गिरवाट जारी रही है।

नोएडा में मैन्युअल स्कैवेंजर्स की मौत: परिवारों को मुआवजा नहीं, प्राधिकरण ने एफआईआर नहीं की

- अरुण खोटे, संजीव कुमार*  गत एक सप्ताह में, उत्तर प्रदेश में सीवर/सेप्टि क टैंक सफाई कर्मियों की सफाई के दौरान सेप्टिक टैंक में मौत। 2 मई, 2024 को, लखनऊ के वज़ीरगजं क्षेत्र में एक सेवर लाइन की सफाई करते समय शोब्रान यादव, 56, और उनके पत्रु सशुील यादव, 28, घटुन से हुई मौत। एक और घटना 3 मई 2024 को नोएडा, सेक्टर 26 में एक घर में सेप्टि क टैंक को सफाई करते समय दो सफाई कर्मचर्मारी नूनी मडंल, 36 और कोकन मडंल जिसे तपन मडंल के नाम से जानते हैं, की मौत हो गई। ये सफाई कर्मचर्मारी बंगाल के मालदा जिले के निवासी थे और नोएडा सेक्टर 9 में रहते थे। कोकन मडंल अपनी पत्नी अनीता मडंल के साथ रहते थे। इनके तीन स्कूल जाने वाले बच्चे हैं जो बंगाल में रहते हैं। नूनी मडंल अपनी पत्नी लिलिका मडंल और अपने पत्रु सजुान के साथ किराए पर झग्गी में रहते थे। वे दैनिक मजदरूी और सफाई कर्मचर्मारी के रूप में काम करते थे।

प्राचीन भारत के लोकायत संप्रदाय ने कुछ परजीवियों की खूब खबर ली: प्रमुख प्रस्थापनायें

- राणा सिंह   भारत में परजीवियों का एक विशाल समूह है जो बोलता है कि “सब कुछ माया है”,  लेकिन व्यवहार में यह समूह सारी जिंदगी इसी “माया” के पीछे पागल रहता है।  प्राचीन भारत के लोकायत संप्रदाय ने इन परजीवियों की खूब खबर ली थी।

बिहार के ऐतिहासिक विक्रमशिला विश्वविद्यालय के खंडहरों की परिक्रमा का रोमांचक अवसर

- सुमन्त शरण  कुछ दिन पहले एक सुदूर ग्रामीण अंचल (पीरपैंती)  से तकरीबन डेढ़-दो घंटे की दूरी पर अवस्थित ऐतिहासिक बौद्ध विक्रमशिला विश्वविद्यालय (के अवशेषों) की परिक्रमा का अवसर मिला। विक्रमशीला विश्वविद्यालय की स्थापना पाल वंश के राजा धर्मपाल ने की थी। 8वीं शताब्दी से 12वीं शताब्दी के अंत तक यह विश्वविद्यालय भारत के प्रमुख शिक्षा केंद्रों में से एक हुआ करता था। कहा जाता है कि यह अपने कुछेक अत्यंत अनूठे नवाचार के चलते उस समय नालंदा विश्वविद्यालय का सबसे बड़ा प्रतिस्पर्धी था। हालांकि, मान्यता यह भी है कि अल्प अवधि के लिए दोनों विश्वविद्यालय के बीच शिक्षण एवं प्रबंधन के क्षेत्रों में घनिष्ठ पारस्परिक संबंध एवं शिक्षकों के आदान-प्रदान का सिलसिला भी रहा था। यह विश्वविद्यालय तंत्रशास्त्र की पढ़ाई के लिए सबसे ज्यादा विख्यात था। इस विषय का एक सबसे विख्यात छात्र अतीसा दीपनकरा था, जो बाद में तिब्बत जाकर बौद्ध हो गया। इसके प्रथम कुलपति ज्ञान अतिस थे।