Lies, fake pride and muscle-flexing on road to fascist future

In the autumn of 2003, an army officer made claims for awards by sending video footage of an encounter in Siachen showing killings of some enemy personnel and destruction of enemy bunkers. It later surfaced that the video footage was faked and serving soldiers of the Indian army were posing as dead Pakistani personnel. A court of inquiry ordered in the incident, subsequently, confirmed the encounter was fake. As videos of 2016 surgical strikes have suddenly emerged after two years, one is reminded of the disconnected Siachen fake encounter. One cannot comment on the authenticity of the claims made in 2016 nor of the videos that have appeared on television channels. But that is not as significant a question as why they have appeared, how and the timing?

The videos are confidential material in the custody of the government. Who leaked them? Why? And, why after two years? The three questions are connected and the obvious guess is that the BJP is getting into election mode with a bit of muscle flexing. If the surgical strikes were the right step, they were supposed to serve a purpose. Military experts have pointed out that surgical strikes are routine military operations for strategic gains during non-combat times. The 2016 strikes were not some novelty. The only new thing was the way they were being bragged about a la Bollywood style with a lot of display of machismo which robs the strikes of its very purpose rather than enhancing its benefits. The purpose it was supposed to achieve was to end or minimise the infiltrations on the borders or corner Pakistan into silencing its guns on the borders, which has evidently not happened. The border situation is worsening by the day. The infiltrations ever since are on a high. Within Kashmir Valley, the homegrown militancy has multiplied despite the massive number of militants getting killed. One militant gets killed in an encounter and there are already four more to replace one. The sole purpose that the fresh videos are aimed to achieve is to change this narrative through a propaganda and a concocted idiom of ‘teaching the enemy a lesson’ and manufacturing fake perceptions by appropriating military actions and drawing the army into an unnecessary politicking.

Propaganda does not change reality. That was the only thing the BJP had in its armour in 2014 elections other than demonization of its main rival Congress, burdened by the multiple allegations of corruption and poor governance. It used it to the hilt with an image make-over of one man who made the leap from Gujarat 2002 genocide tag to development man with the added embellishment of promises of ‘acche din’. None of this proved to be real. The BJP government’s touted policies and actions have proved to be a failure. The demonetisation did not check either black money or terrorism that the BJP government claimed. The Indian money in the Swiss banks is proliferating. If finance minister Arun Jaitley’s contention that deposits are not a key indicator of black money is true, it should also be true under the Congress regime. The BJP, after all, used Swiss bank accounts to build up canards against Congress regime. Corruption and black money exist. Nothing has changed. Once again, only the propaganda is new.

The other thing that is new is the poisonous inject of communal and fascist ideas that encourage intolerance in public discourse and mob violence including lynchings to build an idea of a country through the idea of annihilation of all its minorities. Noted writer and activist, Nayantara Sehgal in an interview recently described the present situation as a nightmare worse than the dark days of Emergency, making the clear distinction between the authoritarian rule then and the fascist rule under the present state of undeclared emergency. Another thing that she doesn’t talk about is that this fresh state of emergency fosters a trend of building false perceptions and preparing a majoritarian army of ordinary warriors who are committed and disciplined into believing that all lies are truth, that bravado comes with bragging about 56 inch chest, peace talk is cowardice and anything spoken against the government is sedition. It spreads these illusions and injects them into minds of people who will then shout down and bully others into silence.

This state of emergency is far worse than the declared emergency of the 1970s. It operates through controlling minds and herding people into developing mindsets inspired by uninformed opinions and lack of intellect. It makes them believe in what doesn’t exist and forbids thinking of any kind but fosters blind faith in present set of rulers. It invokes not false but horrifying pride in acts of brutality and bestiality. A case in point is the invocation of Dogra pride over protecting those accused of rapes and murder of a minor girl in Kathua or celebrating the act of turning unsuspecting citizens into human shields. Lies have become truth and what should be matters of collective shame are turned into matters of collective pride.

This is the evident beginning of a fascist rule. A quick reading of historical fascist movements across the globe will reveal that they began in a similar way by peddling lies, invoking false pride and flexing muscles. In 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru spoke of India having made a tryst with destiny. Is India making yet another tryst with destiny now?

News Updated at : Sunday, July 1, 2018