THE NEW LEAM VIEWPOINT
From politically engineered Iftar parties to the propaganda machinery politicians use – we find ourselves in the trap of falsehood. Is there a way out?
The New Leam Staff
Where are the Suffering Muslims in These Iftar Parties?
You open the newspaper; you see the visuals : Rahul Gandhi with Pranab Mukherjee; and Prakash Javedkar with Ravi Shankar; and yes, they are celebrating the Iftar parties. The crude logic of manipulative politics does not keep anything pure, beautiful, simple and sacred. Every occasion – even a moment of deep religiosity involving the purifying fasting in a holy month and constant prayers for a communion with the divine–has to be utilized for ‘performative’ politics. ‘Look, we are secular; we care for the Muslims’–the politically coded message has to be conveyed through these much publicized Iftar parties. For all practical purposes, this has become our pop secularism. It is inauthentic, showy, manipulative.
When you live in a shared/inclusive space, feel and experience the moments of joy, festivity, pain and suffering with fellow citizens, you do not need a politically engineered theatre to show your’secular’ credentials. Let the Muslims suffer in terms of education, livelihood, social security and safety. Let the orthodox clergy–like the orthodox priestcraft in any organized religion–keep generating fear and social conservatism among people. Let the Muslims continue to live in ghettoized localities. Let us fight militant Hindutva through the Congress variety of soft Hinduism. But in this game of voting, you need to sell your ‘secular’ card. Occasionally, visit a Dalit household, and eat food (another catchy photographic material for political manipulation); and organize Iftar parties, and invite the political class of diverse colours.
Meanwhile, let the Muslim beggar roam around the Jama Masjid for basic survival. Let the Hindu Right threaten them to leave India, and settle in Pakistan. Let the students of Aligarh Muslim University remain perpetually apologetic for the Jinnah photograph. When should we learn to laugh at these inauthentic Iftar parties?
Narcissism and Falsehood at its Height
This is the front page ad in all leading newspapers. Mr. Narendra Modi and Mr. Yogi Adityanath: they are smiling, and indicating that they are truly ‘miracle men’ because, as it is declared, in new Uttar Pradesh there is no reason to be worried; it has occupied the ‘first position ‘ in India in the domain of agriculture with its ‘record purchase and payment of agricultural produce’. Great! With the dazzling statistics everything is proved, sanctified. So people like us should not utter a single word, and accept that the farmers in UP are indeed ‘happy and prosperous’. Why not?
In this age of ‘post-truth’, what matters is the wey you showcase your ‘achievements’ throgh ad agencies, propaganda machineries and techno-managers who are specialized in transforming lies into virtues. Yes, forget Gorakhpur–children dying in the hospital. Forget lynching, everyday aggression and normalization of communalization of consciousness. Forget widespread poverty, bad health centres, schools without teachers. Yes, ‘anti-national’ intellectuals or ‘Urban Maoists’, as some television channels bombard our minds, see problems in this happy land. We ought to be happy because our leaders are magicians; they are like the Amitabh Bachchans of the Bollywood resolving all problems–narcissistic/magical heroes. In the age of ‘image construction’ narcissism plays a role; it is hypnotizing; it is a gift of ‘culture industry’ and ‘social media’. Is it possible to overcome the trap of this falsehood? Yes, they have the money and power. But then, we have the intelligence. Should we tap the only capital we are gifted with?