Pseudo-Secularism

Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pseudo-secular mafia of Indian mass media

V SUNDARAM
newstodaynet.com

India has always been in the grip of Vicious Circle of Poverty for more than 200 years. Soon after our independence, we got into the grip of Vicious Circle of Poisonous Politicians drawn from a few selected families, with firmly established and inherited familial rights, from different parts of India. During the last 20 years we have got into the suffocating grip of a new cast iron Vicious Circle of the Pseudo Secular Mafia of Mass Media.

I am interested in giving a graphic description of an unnatural and artificial world of our own making in India, a celluloid world in which we have abused our wealth, our literacy, our technology, our unlimited opportunity in a land of natural plenty, to create a vicious pseudo- secular thicket of unreality which stands between us and the facts of life. More than 800 millions of Hindus in India in absolute majority in terms of numbers have provided a convenient landscape and opportunity to the pseudo-secular mafia of mass media to create a bestial world of national self-hypnosis. The tragedy is that each of us individually provides the market and the demand for the illusions which flood our experience. The pseudo-secular mafia of self-seeking, soul-destroying and nation-decimating mass media have taken over the country as a whole for their crassly commercial purposes. Criminal invaders and conquerors like Lord Clive and Warren Hastings only molested the physical body of India in the 18th century. Pseudo-secular men in the mafia of mass media have nearly succeeded in destroying the soul of our nation today.

Most of us want and believe these illusions because we suffer from the malady of unabashed and extravagant expectations. The great American psychologist Maslow�the founding father of humanist psychology�coined a term called �The hierarchy of needs�. In India the mafia of mass media have let loose a catastrophe of what I call �The anarchy of greeds�. We expect too much of the world. Our expectations are unnaturally extravagant in the exact dictionary sense of the world�'going beyond the limits of human reason, decency, dignity, decorum and moderation'. They are disgustingly, devastatingly and explosively excessive.

When we try to take a look at our favourite newspaper at breakfast everyday, we are under the delusion that we have an inalienable right to expect�and even demand�that it should bring us momentous events that have taken place since the night before. Later when we get into a car and switch on the car radio as we drive to work, we expect �exciting news�, �thrilling news�, �sexually titillating news�, about events that have occurred ever since we saw the morning newspaper at breakfast time. We expect new heroes every season, a literary masterpiece or a world shaking novel every month, a dramatically spectacular event or a hair-raising episode every week, a rare extraordinary sensation every night. We expect anything and everything. We expect the contrary, the inconsistent, the incompatible and the impossible at the same time and place. We expect small and compact cars which are spacious. We want luxurious cars which are cheap and economical. We hope to be rich and charitable, powerful and merciful, active and reflective, kind and competitive. We expect to be made literate by crassly illiterate appeals for mass literacy.

We as a people range from animals to Gods. We pray for you and we prey on you. We are bears for punishment and brutes for revenge. We want to be Everyone, Everywhere, Everything. We are creatures of moods and modes. These ever shifting public moods and modes are being manipulated by the combined conglomeration of self-seeking and wicked men, firms, companies, corporations and institutions, constituting the Menacing Mafia of Mass Media in India, for untold commercial gain at the cost of public interest or national good.

On the cosmetic surface, it may appear that MAN in India, never before in our history, has been a master of his own fate and a captain of his soul as now. Yet never has he felt more deceived, duped, disappointed, dejected, depressed and devastated than at present.

The root of the tragedy is that we are ruled by the following two categories of revolution of ever-rising expectations:

a) Expectations of what the world holds : This cannot be described better than in the words of Daniel J Boorstin: �Of how much news there is, how many heroes there are, how often masterpieces are made, how exotic the nearby can be, how familiar the exotic has become. Of the closeness of places and the farness of places�.

b) Expectations of our power to shape the world: Daniel J Boorstin describes this dimension in these words: �Of our ability to create events when there are none, to make heroes when they don't exist, to be somewhere else when we haven't left home. Of our ability to make art forms suit our convenience, to transform a novel into a movie and vice-versa, to turn a symphony into mood conditioning. To fabricate national purposes when we lack them, to pursue these purposes after we have fabricated them. To invent our standards and then to respect them as if they had been revealed or discovered�.

We keep on enlarging the landscape of our extravagant expectations by constantly seeking, harbouring and nourishing them. Consequently we create the recurring demand for the ENDLESS ILLUSIONS with which we deceive ourselves with gusto and enthusiasm. And the grim sadness of it all is that with this never-ending procession of illusions, we handsomely pay others to make the images to deceive us.

The making of the illusions which flood our experience has become the most important business of India�indeed some of its most honest and most necessary and most respectable business. This aspect or quality pervades not only the business of advertising and public relations and political rhetoric, but also the entire gamut of the business environment as a whole. It is also equally applicable to all the activities which purport to inform and comfort and improve and educate and elevate us. We find that every move or effort to satisfy our extravagant expectations simply makes them more exotic and makes our illusions more attractive. The story of the making of our unfounded and unnecessary illusions�'the news behind the news'�has become the most appealing and exciting news of the world. In short we tyrannize and frustrate ourselves by constantly expecting more than what the world can give us or than what we can make of the world.

What is a 'Pseudo Event' artificially manufactured or created every second every day by the Mafia of Mass Media in India today? The common prefix �Pseudo� comes from the Greek word meaning false or intended to deceive. The very process of political and socio economic distorted development in India during the last 50 years has let loose certain inexorable and immutable forces which have made the continuous manufacture or creation of Pseudo Events not only possible but commercially viable, increasing the Supply of them and the Demand for them. All the time we expect our newspapers to be full of exciting and heart-throbbing news. If there is no news visible to the naked eye, or to the average citizen, we still expect it to be there for the enterprising and intrepid newsman. An energetic and successful newsman is one who can scoop out an explosive story, even if there is no earthquake or a Prime Minister's assassination or a National Civil War. Even if he cannot find a story, he must be able to make or invent one through contrived journalistic dialectics�by his subtle ability to ask tricky questions of public figures, by his uncanny ability to unearth something of surprising human interest from some mundane or common place event or what is known in the world of Mass Media by the cliché of 'the news behind the news'. Daniel J Boorstin has rightly observed �If all this fails, then an enterprising journalist must give us a think piece �an embroidering of well- known facts, or a speculation about startling things to come�. The power to make a reportable event is thus the power to create or make experience. I am reminded of Napoleon's apocryphal reply to his General, who had complained that field circumstances were unfavourable to a campaign proposed by Napoleon: �If ground level circumstances are unfavourable, then all I can tell you is that: 'Bah! I make my own circumstances'�. The newsmen in the world of mass media in India today have come close to fulfilling Napoleon's idle boast by acting as creators of pseudo events, knowing what news value is and to make news happen.

The media doesn't aim at reporting the news; it tries to create the news, imposing its view of the news upon everyone as the final truth. To sum up in the rapier-like words of David Frawley: �The Indian English media dictates against the government as if it should be the real political decision-making body in the country. (Because it is urged and influenced by other foreign agencies and academic institutions such as U Berkeley/U Columbia) It deems itself capable of taking the place of legal institutions as well, printing its allegations as truth even if these have never been entered into, much less proved in any court of law. It has vested itself with an almost religious authority to determine what is right and wrong, good and evil, and who in the country should be honoured or punished... This is called brainwashing under freedom�


During the last 20 years a larger and larger proportion of our experience, of what we read and see and hear every moment every day, has come to consist of pseudo-events artificially manufactured by the pseudo-secular mafia of Indian mass media. We expect more of them. We hunger and hanker after them and we are given more of them. They invade our souls and flood our consciousness. This ever rising tide of multiplication and proliferation of pseudo-events can be seen in the world of education, of consumption, and of personal relations. It is especially true of the sordid world of public affairs. Vivid image of propped up and false pseudo-events has come to overshadow the pale reality of solidly true or actual events. To quote the brilliant words of David Halberstam (1934-2007) one of the greatest Journalists of this century: �If you're a reporter, the easiest thing in the world is to get a story. The hardest thing is to verify. The old sins were about getting something wrong, that was a cardinal sin. The new sin is to be boring.�

National and international criminals in the world of mass media in India, fully backed by the transitory might of the Anti-Hindu UPA Government in New Delhi, excel in distorted or even totally false reporting on communally sensitive issues. This has become a well- entrenched characteristic of Indian Print Media and TV Journalism. The sad thing is that there is no self-corrective mechanism in place to protect the gullible and credible multitude against this endemic culture of planned, planted and plotted dissemination of disinformation. To quote the appropriate words of N Ananth Padmanabha in this context: �No reporter or columnist or editor ever gets fired or formally reprimanded or even just criticized by his peers for smearing Hindu nationalists. This way, a partisan economy with the truth has become a habit hard to relinquish. This logic of news reporting is considered some form of social engineering. The sense of chaos and insecurity is conveyed by media reports so that stable environment and harmony is never achieved in the minds of the larger society. This is one form of psychological operation done inside India for the last three decades. The news creates a notion of change, which reinforces the decay of the Hindu culture and brings out more on the light of Islamic/Urdu culture. By being very anti-Hindu the media and social scientists hope to reduce aggression of the so called 'majority' community over the minority community and bring balance even at the expense of the truth. This logic was pursued even when the Muslim terrorists in Kashmir were killing the minority Hindus and such news is usually kept low key�.

Every bastard pseudo event, conceived and produced and presented by the mass media in India tends to become ritualised, with a protocol and rigidity all its own. As each type of pseudo event acquires this rigidity, pressures arise to produce other, derivative, forms of pseudo event which are more fluid, more tantalising, and more interestingly intriguing, ambivalent and ambiguous. Let me cite some super spectacular pseudo-events and pseudo images created by the mafia of our mass media in recent years. The 'so called' genocide in Gujarat (mischievously divorced from the brutal killing of innocent and unarmedHindu women and children by Sonia Congress sponsored Muslim Terrorists and Criminals through the orchestrated mechanisations of mass media), encounter killings by the police in Gujarat, Sonia Gandhi being in the spiritual line of Mahatma Gandhi in the field of supreme self sacrifice and self-abnegation in relation to the post of Prime Minister and thus proclaiming for all time her passionate concern for upholding eternal verities, truly compassionate nature and world-embracing kindness of Afzal Guru 'wrongfully' sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of India, the world shaking and universe transforming nature of the impotent silence of our surrogate Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi as a formidable paragon of the virtues proclaimed by Jesus Christ and Mohammed the Prophet which augurs well for his certain future as the Prime Minister of India- such pseudo-events and pseudo images have been created by our English print and TV mass media in recent years with organized and calculated impudence and impunity.

All press conferences given by our Prime Minister, Chief Ministers and Cabinet Ministers and other political leaders are highly formalised pseudo-events to present powerful pseudo images. These press conferences have given birth to a renegade and infernal foster child called the "institutionalized leak". As the leak becomes formalized, more devices will appear. Though it originates from calculated outright deception, yet our mass media would present it as an essential part of "more news", to provide "more information", or to "improve public communication". In a planned manner this will be followed by "official denials" and "official disavowals". Thus any statement or non statement by anyone in the public eye can become the basis of generated or sponsored counter-statements or brash refusals to comment by others. Thus all these dramatized pseudo overtures, responses and reactions compound the ambiguity of the occasion which first brought them into being.

We should not fail to distinguish between these pseudo-events which flood and saturate our dead or deadened consciousness on the one hand and organized propaganda on the other. Though the two do have some characteristics in common, yet it should be understood that in many respects the pseudo-events are the opposite of propaganda. One of the classics of modern propaganda is Hitler's MEIN KAMPF. Hitler wrote: "Now the purpose of propaganda is not continually to produce interesting changes for a few blas/e little masters, but to convince; that means to convince the masses. The masses, however, with their inertia, always need a little time before they are ready even to notice a thing, and they will lend their memories only to the thousand fold repetition of the most simple ideas"

Propaganda as defined and prescribed by Hitler is information intentionally biased or distorted. Propaganda purely relies upon emotional appeal. On the other hand, a pseudo event is a vague and ambiguous truth. Propaganda is an appealing and exhilarating falsehood. Pseudo-events thrive on our honest desire and weakness to be informed, to have 'all the facts' and many times to have even more facts than there really are. Propaganda feeds on our craving to be inflamed. Pseudo-events appeal to our duty to be educated; propaganda appeals to our carnal passion and desire to be aroused. To sum up in the sublimely mathematical words of Daniel J Boorstin: �While propaganda substitutes opinion for facts, pseudo-events are synthetic facts which move people indirectly, by providing the 'factual' basis on which they are supposed to make up their minds. Propaganda moves them directly by making judgements for them�

In a perverted democracy like ours, more particularly the highly literate, wealthy, competitive people are being flooded by an avalanche of pseudo-events everyday. For most of us, lofty ideals like freedom of speech and of the press and of broadcasting, freedom of conscience, cultural freedom have all become part of the overriding freedom to create pseudo-events.

All political parties, all politicians, competing newsmen and competing news and mass media are boisterously participating in this dangerous and dastardly drama of creation of pseudo events. They try to outwit or out-distance or out-throw one another in offering exciting, titillating, and attractive �informative� accounts and images of the world. They assert their fundamental freedom to pseudo secularly speculate on the known facts, to bring new pseudo secular facts into being, to demand pseudo secular answers to their own mischievously conceived and politically contrived pseudo secular questions. They have succeeded in creating 'a viciously unfettered market place of pseudo-secular ideas' where we, the gullible millions, are confronted by callously placed and coolly planted pseudo events. This lurid drama has put us all in a speechless state and mood of bewilderment and transcendental conceptual confusion. We have been duped into becoming eager and willing accessories to the great hoaxes of the age created by the mafia of mass media in India.

Force without justice is tyrannical; justice without force is impotent. All the leading criminals in the mafia of mass media are advancing the solid pseudo secular cause of force without natural justice and the slippery cause of sham justice without force. All the three pillars of the State�the political executive, the legislature and the judiciary�are collective and willing participating in this nation soul-destroying drama.

Thus we have become a wretched nation of enslaved people, manipulated by a wicked press with biased bosses and unscrupulous politicians.

To conclude in the words of Daniel J Boorstin: �To discover our illusions by itself will not solve the problems of our world. But if we do not discover them, we will never discover or know our real problems. To dispel the ghosts which populate the world of our making will not give us the power to conquer the real enemies of the real world or to remake the real world. But it may help us discover that we cannot make the world in our image. It liberates us and sharpens our vision. It will clear away the fog so we can face the world we share with all mankind.�


In his classic work 'Public Opinion', published in 1922, Walter Lipman distinguished between 'the world outside and the pictures in our minds'. He defined a 'stereotype' as an over simplified pattern that helps us find meaning in the world. He said all of us carry stereotypes in our heads of large and varied classes of people like 'Englishmen', 'Germans', 'Negroes', 'Hindus', 'Parsis' etc. Lipman argued that the Stereotype satisfies our needs and helps us defend our prejudices. Stereotypes, extremely simple and easily grasped images of racial or national or religious groups are only another example of pseudo-events. Generally speaking they are akin to propaganda. For they simplify rather than complicate. Daniel J Boorstin sums it up clinchingly: 'Stereotypes narrow and limit experience in an emotionally satisfying way; but pseudo-events embroider and dramatize experience in an interesting way. This itself makes pseudo-events far more seductive; intellectually they are more defensible, more intricate, and more intriguing. To discover how the stereotype is made-to unmask the sources of propaganda-is to make the stereotype less believable. Information about the staging of a pseudo-event simply adds to its fascination'.

Today in India the flood of pseudo-events released by the organized mafia of mass media has made experience newly and satisfyingly elusive. In this new era in India today there is a surging and growing demand for NEWS as a crying primal need of the mind, like the hunger of the body. This mania for news is both a symptom and outcome of a revolution of rising expectations enlarged far beyond the capacity of the natural world to satisfy. This calls for a synthetic product. It has stirred an irrational and undiscriminating hunger for fancier, newer and more varied items. Stereotypes have always been and will never cease to be. Stereotypes serve only as an opiate. Pseudo events, on the other hand, whet our primordial appetites. They arouse our news hunger endlessly in the very act of satisfying it.

What makes pseudo-events more exciting and thrilling than actual events? What makes pseudo-events overshadow spontaneous events? What are the characteristics of pseudo-events being let loose as guided missiles by the mafia of mass media in India today? The cardinal features of pseudo-events can be summed up as follows:

a) Pseudo-events are more dramatic. The most classic example of a supersonic pseudo-event is the programme called "The Big Fight" being continuously organised and presented by NDTV. Controlled and doctored debate between carefully chosen and selected 'TV Para Troopers' can be made to look more suspenseful by reserving questions for a while to be popped up suddenly like an undermining operation to overwhelm the gullible public.

b) Pseudo-events are easier to disseminate and to make vivid. The same participants are repeatedly selected for their perceived 'newsworthy' and 'dramatic' interest.

c) Pseudo-events can be repeated at will, and thus their impression can be re-enforced. Pseudo-events let loose by the mass media serve as inebriating chewing gums of the mind, heart and soul of the people and the Nation.

d) Pseudo-events cost money to create. There is always a commercial interest in disseminating, magnifying, advertising and extolling them as events worth watching or worth believing. Therefore pseudo-events are advertised in advance and continue to run and rerun in order to get money's worth.

e) Pseudo-events are more sociable, conversable and more convenient to witness. Their occurrence is commercially planned for our convenience everyday.

f) Knowledge of pseudo-events-of what has been reported and staged, and how- becomes the test of being 'well informed'. The saddest part of the story is that pseudo-events have come to provide the ground of reliable and durable common discourse replacing the role played by the Great Books of the world for centuries!! g) Pseudo-events like malarial flies spawn other pseudo events in interminable and geometric progression. The new Gresham's Law of Indian public life is that counterfeit happenings manufactured by the pseudo-secular mafia of print and TV mass media are driving spontaneous happenings or events out of circulation. Once we have tasted the charm of pseudo-events, we are tempted to believe they are the only important events. Our own progress poisons the life-giving sources of our experiences. And the poison becomes so sweet that it spoils our appetite for plain fact

The anti-national role played by mass media in India became patently clear during the Vande Mataram controversy. Editors and publishers miserably failed to distinguish between objectivity and neutrality. While it is the sacred Dharma of editors to be objective, yet it imposes no obligation on them to be neutral in the battle between treasonable separatism and patriotic nationalism. To quote the appropriate words of Swapan Dasgupta: 'My own experience suggests that breaking the stultifying liberal consensus is a daily exercise in guerrilla warfare. In the aftermath of globalisation, the liberal consensus has veered round to a contrived expression of cosmopolitanism. Fond belief that competitive democracy would force publications to recognise the force of Hindu disquiet has turned out to be horribly misplaced. The term of the NDA Government, for example, saw yesterday's pro-Congress newspapers being feted and flattered by representatives of the very government whose formation they had so uncompromisingly resisted'. The two endemic diseases of mass media in India are:

a) The 'anti-Hindu' bias of both the print and electronic media.

b) Secularism in India has come to mean only an uncritical celebration of minority interests and a corresponding denigration of "Hindu" interests).

Indian politicians, as a class, have devised clever and devious. strategies to use media influence to their advantage and they range from harmless spin doctoring-which, in the Indian context, also means blatant intimidation-to plain bribery. These vicious political strategies have also been refined and adopted by corporate houses, leading to the emergence of a strange breed of so-called professionals-the public relations and communications experts whose sole job is to be the interface with the media.

Most of the pseudo-secular reporters in the world of mass media, despite their fine talk of objectivity, only mildly approach objectivity through the form in which they write their news in a soullessly technical style which requires them to be much dumber and more innocent than in fact they are. So they write in a bland uncritical and lifeless way which gives greater credence to the utterances of Cabinet Ministers, politicians and public officials, no matter how stupid or mindless those utterances are.

We had nationalist newspapers in different parts of India during the days of our struggle for freedom. They had their own clearly defined patriotic ideology and national vision. But alas! Today the media owners and editors view themselves as 'professionals' which only means working as paid prostitutes of either the Congress party or the Communist Party or some other regional Dravidian Party. Ideology has been overthrown by considerations of money, profit and commerce. Consequently the entire media have become aimless, , pointless, directionless and soulless. Everything held sacred before 1947 has become profane and everything considered as sacrilegious before 1947 has become psedo-secularly sacred in the mafia world of mass media in our country today. Consequently, the most disgraceful aspect of the English-Language Media is that it is guided, moulded and maneuvered by newspapers abroad like The Guardian of England and New York Times of USA.

To quote the inimitable words of Swapan Dasgupta once again: "Obviously, the liberal consensus means one thing in the United Kingdom and the United States and something quite different in India. Whereas in the anglophile world, the symbol of liberalism is multiculturalism, in India the liberal consensus has veered round to a slightly skewed version of secularism. If multiculturalism abjures the Anglo-Saxon and Christian heritage of the English-speaking world, secularism in India has come to mean an uncritical celebration of minority interests and a corresponding denigration of 'Hindu' interests."

A centralised and concentrated system of information in our democracy has come to pass. The mainstream media, despite their pious insistence that they never select their output for self-serving reasons, are very close to being absolute in their self-censorship on the subject. They are vigorously copious with reports of the dangers to our democracy of information control by Governments. But they are diplomatically silent on the dangers of private and cartel control. While Governments can be voted out of office, these cartels controlling mass media, through their stranglehold control of news and public information pose a serious threat to our infant democracy by postponing public awareness for dangerously long periods.

The mass media in India remains largely a Congress controlled propaganda machine. As the Congress has not been able to win elections, it has encouraged and promoted its media wing even more strongly to try to compensate for its political failures in the electoral arena. Yet as the Congress party itself has often failed, the media has taken to supporting other leftist groups inside and outside the country in the hope of gaining power. I can see the clear hand of western governments in manipulating the Congress party to do its work. This shows how the surrogate Manmohan Singh Indian government is being manipulated as a puppet of the western governments today as indeed it has been for a long time during the last 40 years.

What our country badly and sadly requires today cannot be put better than in the words of that unmatched journalist from USA called Joseph Pulitzer(1847 �1911) 'An able, disinterested, public spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself. The power to mould the future of the Republic will be in the hands of the journalism of future generations.'


(The writer is a retired IAS officer)
e-mail the writer at vsundaram@newstodaynet.com





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