Propagandists in India are prone to tawdry and tacky methods. There is very often no elegance in their methods. No poetry. No finesse. They lie clumsily, their hypocrisy, as bright as day, for all men to behold. The kind of propagandists who use photoshop to morph images and don’t dress their lies up just enough so they don’t get caught. Not Ramchandra Guha. Watching him propagate is like watching poetry in motion. The lies rolling off his tongue like airy butter cookies melting in one’s mouth, his hypocrisy, misrepresentations and half-truths, blending so effortlessly to falsely present a mirage of truth. His nonchalant brazenness that has almost become a part of his charm, only amplified by those Harry Potteresque glasses, albeit rimless, that give him the natural air of nerdy, intellectual superiority.
How can someone not believe a man with his salt pepper, dishevelled, quintessentially “intellectual” look? And therein lies the beauty of his con. Look so immaculately tousled, that every bit of lie and hypocrisy is taken at face value. And lord knows, Ram Guha is a treasure trove of hypocrisy and lies.
Recently, a video surfaced where a citizen was seen visibly angry with a shabby propagandist called Rajdeep Sardesai. The techie questioned Sardesai on his anti-India, anti-Modi slant. Of course, if Sardesai was as good at the art of propaganda as Ram, he would have never been publicly confronted, but that’s for another time. News later surfaced that this unwashed citizen who had dared to question the court jester was ‘detained’ by Bangalore police because let’s face it, how dare the villager assume to have the same levels of Freedom of Expression as the perfumed elite.
Some rejoiced. Some questioned. Among the ones who questioned, was TV Mohandas Pai, who is the Chairman of Manipal Global Education. He was a former director of Infosys.
He dared to speak up.
People in public life get heckled, it is common, there was no menace. It does not mean that you use your political influence to get the police to harass them. It is a gross misuse of power https://t.co/Gb1jfa6Ozb
— Mohandas Pai (@TVMohandasPai) May 9, 2018
Ram Guha proceeded to do what he does best. Obfuscate by confusing his readers to an extent that his half-truth starts to appear as the whole truth.
— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) May 9, 2018
A seasoned propagandist like Ram Guha did two things here. Firstly, addressed Pai by his first name. Mohan. Thereby establishing the obligation that comes with a supposed acquaintance. Secondly, before calling Pai a liar, he slipped in an underhand compliment: “A man of your stature”. Put together, these two tools can work wonders, Establish a personal connect thereby convincing the adversary that he is a friend and doesn’t detest him for his differing ideology (he does) and remind him of his “stature” so he backs off owing either because of the fear of ostracisation or the realisation that the “perfumed elite” aren’t supposed to fight for the unwashed masses, but lofty ideals that may (or may not, most probably won’t) help the unwashed masses.
Owing to his “natural charm” and “stature”, none of the intellectuals and fellow (far less poised) propagandists would dare point out that he was obfuscating facts to justify the harassment of a citizen.
Nobody would remind him that there lies a world of difference between ‘detention’ and ‘arrest’. Police can ‘detain’ someone on mere suspicion without charging him of any crime whereas, when an arrest is made, a person is charged with a crime, seeks bail, and appears in court to prove his innocence. A citizen is held on ‘reasonable suspicion’ for questioning. Now, while detention is legimite in law, nobody bothered to ask why a citizen was detained on “reasonable suspicion” simply for being angry at a public personality and using words to express the same without being abusive, threatening or menacing.
TV Mohandas Pai said the citizen was being ‘detained’. Ram Guha refuted Pai and called him a liar by saying that he had not been ‘arrested’. Both were right. But Ram made Pai look like a bald-faced liar. This example of blatant propaganda was like Beethoven’s fifth symphony. Effortless.
Ramchandra Guha has picked a side and he is sticking to it. People, facts, figures, truth, logic are mere tools. To be used, twisted, abused, as and when it suits the side he has picked.
In the run-up to this brazen lie, Guha indulged in another form of trickery. As any propagandist, he tried his best to maintain the charade of neutrality by praising a fellow intellectual who doesn’t belong to his ideological leaning. Arun Shourie. The ‘right-wing’ intellectual who is credible, in Guha’s eyes.
As I wrote in 2015, the only credible right-wing intellectual in India is Arun Shourie; the only person on that side who has produced serious books rather than clever columns or cheeky tweets. That he was completely kept out by Modi/Shah tells us all we need to know about them. https://t.co/VbNeepeu2t
— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) May 9, 2018
Just as before, he starts with appealing to the ‘stature’ of the individual he wants to use to aide his propaganda. This time, Shourie. And then progresses to his real agenda. Using Shourie to malign Modi and Shah.
This argument would hold if Guha always held Shourie in high regard. But that is not the case and that is again something a seasoned propagandist like Guha would never reveal.
As pointed out by TrueIndology, this wasn’t the case when Shourie wasn’t serving Guha’s propaganda by speaking out against Modi and Shah. Some excerpts from his essay “The use and Abuse of Gandhi” from his book “An Anthropologist Among the Marxists.”
He had called Shourie a “pamphleteer masquerading as Historian”
He had almost compared Shourie’s nationalism to that of white supremacists.
He had called Shourie a “bilious polemicist and baiter of the minorities”
He had also called Shourie ‘woefully ill-informed’ because Shourie had dared to disagree with Congress and its supporters.
Propaganda is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view. It is said that only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself, the masses have to be won by propaganda (Hannah Arendt). The ecosystem of the left, that Ram Guha belongs to is a totalitarianist system. It is dictatorial and demands complete submission and subservience to the “cause” it espouses. And for the left, it is extremely easy to have the elite and criminals favour them by their sheer momentum. Look how quickly abusive, criminal and downright stupid people are turned into overnight stars. But to get us, us unwashed masses on their side, it takes a well-oiled propaganda machinery. To subvert the truth. Further the lies. Obfuscate facts. Give people the carrot of being a part of the ‘elite squad’ and the stick of being labelled and called all sorts of heinous names. The subtle fear of being harassed if one doesn’t conform. It is propaganda and propaganda alone that can get the unwashed masses drawn to their totalitarian system.
Ramchandra Guha is a maestro and this propaganda is his symphony.
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017