Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kashmir and Varnashrama - problems due to propaganda

Propaganda by definition is spreading biased information for the purpose of promoting some cause. It helps in creating and strengthening an environment which is conducive to take steps towards the goal that it is intended to achieve. Understandably, a typical propaganda will create some negative consequences and subsequently undesirable situations. To understand and reduce ill effects of any propaganda, the extent of damage it has already created has to be assessed.

In any propaganda, there will be two groups - propagandists, those who design propaganda and the target group - those who are recipients of the propaganda.

In this context, it is instructive to list the stages of progression of propaganda. To decide on how to tackle the ill effects of the propaganda, the first step would be to identify the maturity level of the propaganda campaign.

A propaganda campaign has four sequential stages.

  1. Exposure - Distribution of material, Making aware of the argument - The target group of the propaganda is aware of the allegations or criticisms stated by the propagandists against them.
  2. Compel - Making one to respond In this stage, the members of the target group are compelled to react and respond to the allegations hurled at them.
  3. Involve - Make someone to reinforce, reiterate or approve As the propaganda becomes stronger, many groups in the target group start reinforcing the ideas, allegations or criticisms of the propagandists while making an attempt to respond to ward off the criticisms.
  4. Ambassadorial - Advocate, vouch A member of the target group internalizes the criticisms but continues to respond simultaneously - exhibit dichotomy in thoughts and actions

A propaganda becomes more successful as it proceeds from one stage to the next. It becomes more difficult to reverse the ill effects the propaganda in higher stages.

In India, there are two problems which are influenced by the sustained propaganda from a very long period of time. Here they are identified and an assessment of the stage of the propaganda in each of these cases is made.

Propaganda against Varnashrama of Hinduism is going on at least from last 400 years. Propaganda has already reached the 4th stage and we see many Hindus, especially socially active, vouching for the points raised by the anti Varnashrama propagandists. More number of Hindus reiterate and reinforce the allegations and conclusions about Varnashrama in a casual way even addressing topics that are not directly related to Varnashrama in particular and Hinduism in general. Awareness about the allegation is so high (almost 100%) and internalization of the allegations is so complete that most of the time, reactions / response / discussion about these things is not seen.

Kashmir as a disputed land and Pakistan and China as parties to it has wider acceptance. Arguments in favor of India is less widely known compared to the arguments in favor of Pakistan. Response is typically high from official circles and it appears as it there are few takers among the general public. Reinforcement of Pakistani / Jihadi allegations against India is seen in most of the discussions about Kashmir in India. The propaganda against Kashmir as integral part of India has reached third stage

[Contributed by VS and SH]