Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dot net Gandhians and cattle class citizens

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society."

--Edward Bernays(Propoganda)

Contrary to the popular myth that democracy is all about winning public opinion, its infact about manipulating public opinion.

With his few months of political and ministerial life, Shashi Taroor has proven that he has not understood this basic fact. His controversial statement that he found it uncomfortable to stay in Kerala house due to the lack of gymnasium and privacy there proves it. His contempt for anything used by the poor or ordinary was even more conspicuous when he compared economy class with cattle class. Actually Shashi Taroor is not a disease rather the symptom of a disease. Being a bit naive, and unlike others in the ministry, he has openly expressed it. That's all. His policies, practices and mindset are just what is of others in the ministry or any other ministry and ruling class of India in recent times.

Who are these ministers and what is their back ground ? Their career and background are strikingly similar. They come from the elitist and most affluent class educated in Harward or similar institutes. They learn economics. But nothing about Indian culture. Foremost example being that of Mr. Chidambaram, the poster boy of UPA ministry and darling of neo-liberal media and corporate world. For sure, the most powerful minister in this cabinet. He educated in Harvard business school. His previous profile includes Working as a lawyer for Enron corporation which has engineered the biggest corporate fraud in history. He was member of board of directors of Vedanta , another corporate giant currently devastating the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa. He switched from governments to governments, parties to parties and ministries to ministries seamlessly. Of course, no questions were ever asked about these defections ! He once said that his vision was to get 85% of Indian population to live in cities.To achieve his vision of moving 85% of Indians to urban land he has to force them to leave their homes and farm lands. He and his colleagues are trying their level best to achieve the target. They give various names and acronyms for this. Development, Liberalization, SEZ, PPP and many more beautiful acronyms. But the idea and agenda is one and same. To make the land and water ripe for corporate plunder. Their policies are progressing faster. Over the last few years closer to 200,000 farmers have committed suicides Poverty has been increasing in India further. Still not happy, he and his colleagues are envisioning even further cut in subsidies for farmers while driving them to compete openly with heavily subsidized farmers from western world.

But unlike poor Tharoor, they don't receive any flak for these. Because they do understand public relation business and are adept in manipulating it. They call themselves Gandhians(Yes, same Gandhi, who had said that India's way is not Europe's, and India lives in seven hundred thousand villages). And with the help of media, they "engineer consent" for their actions. To manipulate the public opinion further, they have resorted to an austerity spree and new mantra is "Economic class". Ministers are urged to use only economic class while flying. This is nothing more than a cosmetic surgery. Had the government been serious about cut why not try to do something serious for bringing 70 lakh crore of looted money siphoned away to safe tax heavens like Switzerland? That money would be sufficient to clear all of India's foreign debts and solve all our farmers problem. Why not cooperate seriously with German government who pre emptively offered some help in this regard ? Why not follow US who successfully got the names of account holders in similar incidents ? They will not, because that would affect most of the people inside the government and corporate big shots. But to cover up all these they talk about austerity measures and embrace economic classes.

Tharoor needs to follow Edward Bernays and the techniques that can be used to manipulate public opinion and propaganda tactics. How to present his most retrogressive ideas wrapped inside beautiful slogans and camouflage hubris. Looking at Chidambaram and Manmohan, he needs to learn how to stand for Palestine in public while strengthening alliance with Israel more than ever . Twittering alone is not enough. He needs to learn all these public relation tactics from his colleagues and manipulate public opinion.

What does not change is change itself and thus goes the Gandhian breed too. Now Gandhians are post-internet and dot net generation. They need privacy and gymnasium in their rooms. They hate people(they like only "voters"). They want twitter to communicate. They want luxuary suites and more importantly, they want all the villagers(if at all they survive the drought,starvation, suicide and all other calamities they don't understand ) to move to city and enjoy the beautiful life of cities!

Who ever said these dot net Gandhians were not compassionate ?