Mainstream, VOL LV No 15 New Delhi April 1, 2017
Fake News, Post-Truth, Ethics and Me
Sunday 2 April 2017, by
Leftist thinker Kobad Gandhy has sent this short piece for publication from Cherlapalli Central Jail, Cherlapalli, Medchal district, Hyderabad where he is currently lodged.
In the West the people have known since long that the mainstream/corporate media is filled with fake news and have thus turned to the social media. Now this is out in the open, with even prestigious newspapers/channels planting fake stories against Trump and crudely backing Clinton. Not that there was much to choose between the two, but The Wall Street favourite has never been so aggressively promoted.
In India not a word is mentioned on this fake news debate raging in the West. Quite naturally, much of the mainstream media here presents views as news, are experts at trivialising serious issues, and presenting trivia as major events. For them, the suffering of the millions is a non-issue, but a tiny scratch to a star (film, sports, political or business) is a major newsworthy phenomenon.
And now to give such distortions and unethical practices legitimacy we are told we are anyhow in the post-truth era. What is blatant fake news and crude propaganda is being re-packaged in post-truth wrappings. Of course, in the Indian version, as in Tihar, all murders, rapes, lies etc. were stated as being inevitable as we live in the Kaliyug. While this tended to give legitimacy for the rot, long before the Kaliyug concepts of dishonesty were made acceptable by Chanakya. He had said: “A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first, and honest people are victimised first.”
Till today the Dharma-gurus, ruling elite, and even many an intellectual are enamoured by Chanakya and pride themselves on their manipulative prowess. Of course, India also has a strong counter-narrative, but this is for the simple folk, the ordinary citizen. The Bhakti movement was an example, where Sant Namdev, seven centuries back, ridiculed the dishonesty of the Dharma-gurus, saying:
with their sacred beads
know nothing of Truth.
They see nothing,
but claim to give insight to others.
Can deception lead to liberation?
But today’s establishment (including the media) may chant Bhakti (Vitthal) but practise Chanakya; chant Ambedkar but practise Manusmriti; chant nationalism but prostrate before Western predators; chant democracy but crush dissent!! All this is, of course, acceptable in the post-truth/Kaliyug era, specifically if presented with a touch of Bhakti to give it legitimacy and mass appeal.
So, in media type, demonetisation was the sword that pierced the heart of the black-money monster; never mind the fact that in the current elections four-to-seven times more cash was seized then in the 2012 elections. That the Budget was pro-poor, though it allocated little for the farmer, unemployed etc. but gave a bonanza to banks, digital companies, loan defaulters etc. That Pakistan is the main source of terror, but is silent on the fact that it is Saudi Arabia that is the fountainhead of all Islamist fundamentalist ideology, terrorist funding and even arms supplies. That the ‘reformist’ economic policies are a panacea for all our ills, even though after two-and-a-half decades it has brought nothing but misery to the bulk of our people.
Often silence is the preferred mode to hide uncomfortable truths. We see this on issues of farmers’ suicides, on the ravages of two years’ drought, on the rape of the environment, on issues of corruption at the top...
When it comes to myself, when a Telangana court acquitted me of all charges (February 10, 2017), the media was silent; but when a few days later the Supreme Court refused to enter-tain a bail plea, it was widely covered. Worse still, the PTI report intentionally misquotted the lawyer as stating that “just because he was a member of the Central Committee, 16 cases were slapped on him....”. Where does the question arise of being a ‘leader’ of a party when I have even been acquitted of being a member across the three States of Delhi, Punjab and Telangana!! It will also not bother to report that I have spent over seven-and-a-half years in jail as an undertrial, though I am being acquitted in case after case.
Though this may result in judicial murder, due to a failing digestive system and other ailments, in the final analysis truth and justice will prevail. The post-truth practitioners, the cunning and the duplicit, the perpetrators of evil and cruelty will rot, notwithstanding the gloss that masks their sins. After all, Chanakya merely lives in the mind of the artful manipulators, while Bhakti/truth/honesty lives in the heart of the masses.
(February 25, 2017)