Come election time and the propaganda by various parties starts. Nothing unusual (or perhaps even wrong) in that. However, since a particular political family (the Sangh Parivar) has much more clout in the middle class, and even more so among the ‘highly educated’ professionals etc., the newest way for carrying on propaganda are (mass) emails and blogs. This media, while allowing anyone with access to the Net to communicate with others (which is obviously a good thing), also allows blatant and completely over the top lies to be spread. What is dangerous in this case, especially with emails, is that these (mass and) chain mails usually come to people from family, friends and acquaintances. Unless you have the habit of checking everything that is told to you before believing it, you can easily be mislead by such mails and blogs. This is even more likely now when, in this age, people anyway don’t have much time to spend on finding out the truth (as much as possible, not absolute) about matters like national or international politics. There is infinitely more data than one human mind can handle.
Whether in the earlier ages people had time for this or not and, if they did, whether they used it for this purpose or not is something I don’t know. But that still doesn’t change the fact that most people are likely to believe certain kinds of the most outrageous lies.
I usually don’t get many such mails, but sometimes I do. When I do, sometimes I also reply in the hope that at least some of the people will go on to check the facts before believing them. At least make some inquiries from reliable sources. Just make some effort to find whether what is being claimed is anywhere near the truth or not.
When I do reply, I usually get into some kind of trouble or the other. Because the mail has been sent (whatever may be the original source) from friends to friends. You are not supposed to suggest that a friend could have sent a mail containing blatant malicious lies to a friend. That is breaking the social code. It’s like a minor crime. If you repeat this offence, it can even become a major crime and there will be consequences.
I have just got such a mail. I am going to quote it here in full just as an example so that in case you have not received any such mail, you might not conclude that I am talking nonsense. Why I used this N-word may be clear when you read this (verbatim):
Dear all ,
This is list of leading News papers in india & its owners. I think you can point out the media atitude towards hindu society from this statistics.
a) NDTV: Funded by Gospels of Charity in Spain supports Communism. Recently it has developed a soft corner towards Pakistan because Pakistan President has allowed only this channel to be aired in Pakistan . Indian CEO Prannoy Roy is co-brother of Prakash Karat, Gen Secy of Communist party of India .
b) CNN-IBN: 100% Funded by Southern Baptist Church with its branches in all over the world with HQ in US. The Church annually allocates 800 Million Dollars for Promotion of its channel. Its Indian Head is Rajdeep Sardesai and his wife Sagarika Ghosh.
c) TIMES GROUP LIST: TIMES OF INDIA, MID-DAY, NAV-BHARTH TIMES, STARDUST, FEMINA, VIJAYA TIMES, VIJAYA KARNATAKA, TIMES NOW (24 hr News Channel) & many more.
Times Group is owned by Bennet & Coleman. 80% of the Funding is done by “WORLD CHRISTIAN COUNCIL”, and balance 20% is equally shared by an Englishman and an Italian. The Italian ROBERTIO MINDO IS A CLOSE RELATIVE OF SONIA GANDHI.
D) STAR TV: Is run by an Australian, who is supported by St.Peters Pontificial Church Melbourne.
E) HINDUSTAN TIMES: Owned by Birla Group, but hands have changed since Shobana Bhartiya took over. Presently it is working in Collobration with Times Group.
F) The Hindu: A English Daily, started over 125 years has been recently taken over by Joshua Society, Berne , Switzerland .
G) INDIAN EXPRESS: DIVDED INTO TWO GROUPS. THE INDIAN EXPRESS & NEW INDIAN EXPRESS (SOUTHERN EDITION). Acts Ministries has major stake in the Indian express and later is still with the Indian counterpart
H) EENADU : Still to date controlled by an Indian named Ramoji Rao
I) Andhra Jyothi : The MUSLIM PARTY OF HYDERABAD known as (MIM) along with a Congress Minister Has purchased this Telgu daily very recently.
j) The Statesman: It is controlled by Communist Party of India
k) Kairali TV: It is Controlled by Communist party of India (Marxist)
l) Mathrabhoomi: leaders of Muslim league and Communist Leaders have major investment.
L) Asian Age & Deccan Chronicle: Is owned by a Saudi Arabian Company with its chief Editor M.J.AKBAR.
And I was under the impression that all Indians who are even a little bit politically aware know that many of these newspapers (e.g., the Times of India and the Indian Express) are sympathetic (if not more) to the BJP and the right wing nationalist politics in general.
I am sure if I was writing a spoof on the right wing propaganda machine, I couldn’t have done better than this.
The most depressing fact is that a friend (who is a really decent and a pretty intelligent person) replied that “Worth to know this fact. Thanks”. And the friend who sent the mail is also a really decent and a pretty intelligent person.
To be frank, I am feeling a bit disoriented by all this.
Phrases like ‘intellectual apocalypse’ are attacking my mind.
Then I made a search for ‘Joshua Society, Berne , Switzerland “the hindu”‘. What do I find? There is whole list of matches on the front page where the exact same thing has been repeated.
Here (‘Wisdom of the East’) and here (‘India Interacts’) and here (‘Hindu Gujarati’) and here (‘Fundoo’). And here (‘Pickled Politics’: a comment). And here (Vishwa Samvad Kendra).
The list goes on.