Modi’s government of India is unhappy with the way pandemic management is being portrayed in international media (floating dead bodies, shortage of beds, vaccines, drugs, and even oxygen, cowsheds as COVID19 clinics).
To shore up his image, media-savvy Narendra Modi has decided to launch a new international TV channel “DD International” akin to BBC (UK), VOA (USA), Al Jazeera (Qatar), Global Times (China), and RT (Russia).
The declared objective is to primarily “project India’s point of view globally on contemporary issues of both global and domestic significance” and to “tell the India Story to a global audience”. It is to be the “authoritative global media source on India through credible, exhaustive and accurate global news service”.
The objective also includes creating a “mindshare for India’s strategic interventions within key stakeholders across the globe from a geopolitics and economy standpoint,” and to be a talent hub for global media professionals, involving and engaging media professionals from across the globe and engaging global talent as anchors and reporters, and having a global workforce. To be a truly global channel similar to BBC World, ensuring that it is watched by a global audience.
The main stimulus
US-funded Freedom House had downgraded India’s democracy from “free” to “partly free”. The reason why it did so is the persecution of the Muslim community and widespread human rights violations in India. India wants to carve out an indigenous freedom score and publicize it in international media.
Modi’s government believes that the existing DD World could not dispel the impression that India is slipping down the freedom ladder.
Modi government’s covert fake TV channels and propaganda were exposed by EU-based non-governmental organization EU DisinfoLab in its first tranche. It uncovered an India-sponsored fake, dis-informational network of 265 fake media outlets in 65 countries, including the US, Canada, Brussels, and Geneva.
The network is run by the Srivastava Group of India. It also ran a think tank called International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies. The Institute paid for the travel and accommodation of an unofficial far-right delegation of 23 European Union parliamentarians to Srinagar on October 30, 2013.
The trip was arranged by Indian –intelligence surrogate Madi Sharma who posed as a self-styled “international business broker”. The delegation’s shikara (boat) ride in Kashmir Lake (dal) pictured Kashmir as heaven in serene peace. Some members however smelt a rat and abandoned the free joy ride.
In its second tranche, EU DisinfoLab revealed India’s fake media outlets resurrected a dead human-rights professor Louis Sohno, who died, aged 92, in 2006, and numerous defunct organizations. They were used alongside at least 750 fake media outlets in a vast 15-year global disinformation campaign to serve Indian interests.
Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a registered Canadian charity, also is an Indian dummy. It published a Pakistan-bashing report ‘Khalistan—A project of Pakistan’ which was mentioned in almost all leading Indian newspapers.
Another pro-India “think-tank” is the “International Terrorism Observatory” chaired by Roland Jacquard.
Turning lies into truth
Since times immemorial “repetitive lies” have been used to hoodwink masses. Cato, Goebbels, Napoleon, and Hitler used repetition to bring home their lies. Research confirmed the impact of repetition. The Roman statesman Cato closed each of his speeches with a call to destroy Carthage (“Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam“), knowing that the repetition would breed agreement.
Nazi Joseph Goebbels says, “Repeat a lie often enough and people will eventually come to believe it.” Research validated his belief in what psychology calls the “illusory truth effect.” First described in a 1977 study by Temple University, psychologist Dr. Lynn Hasher and her colleagues, the illusory truth effect occurs when repeating a statement increase the belief that it’s true even when the statement is actually false.
Read more: Pakistan vows to counter Indian propaganda
Hitler is portrayed as a psychopath with an oyster-shell mind. Yet, he, in his Mein Kampf (pp. 179-180) praises British propaganda techniques used in World War I. He had nothing but contempt for Germany’s propaganda machinery which he considered inferior.
Hitler postulated all propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. The greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its intellectual level will have to be.
Hitler also stated that effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand.
Read more: The day Hitler lost the Second World War
The aforementioned premises follow the axiom, “All propagandist activity is basically subjective and it must take a one-sided attitude towards every question it deals with.”
The bigger the lie, the better the results. The success of any propaganda campaign ultimately depends on the propagandist’s down-to-earth understanding of the “primitive sentiments of the popular masses”.
Propaganda should not have multiple shadings. Concepts and facts should be dished out to the public as true or false, right or wrong, black or white.
Read more: No more ‘Nazi propaganda’ books on Amazon
Influence of fake news
Napoleon says, “There is only one figure in the rhetoric of serious importance, namely, repetition”, whereby a repeated affirmation fixes itself in the mind “in such a way that it is accepted in the end as a demonstrated truth”. Others who distorted truth through repetition include Quintilian, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Marcus Antonius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
Hannah Arendt (The Origins of Totalitarianism) says, “If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. And people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such people, you can then do what you please.”
Susan Sontag, in her The Benefactor points out, “The truth is always something that is told and not something that is known. If there were no speaking or writing, there would be no truth about anything. There would only be what is.”
Fake news could influence even independent-minded Americans who laid down a constitution, beginning with the words “we the people.” Noam Chomsky says the American masses are like a “bewildered herd” that has stopped thinking. Chomsky reminds us that Woodrow Wilson was elected President in 1916 on the platform “Peace without Victory”, right in the middle of World War I.
The American population was extremely pacifistic and saw no reason to become involved in a European War. The Wilson administration established a government propaganda commission, called the Creel Commission [Committee], which through fake news, films, etc. succeeded, within six months in turning a pacifist population into a hysterical, war mongering population that wanted to destroy everything German, tear the Germans limb from limb, go to war and save the world. After the war, the same techniques were used to whip up a hysterical Red Square.
A bouquet of Indian lies
Like the Indian Air Force, and Modi government, the Indian Army also knows the value of propaganda. It occasionally stages fake encounters in which innocent Kashmiris are kidnapped and killed in ‘encounters’.
Afzal Guru was hanged for the Indian Parliament attack, but subsequent revelations by police officer Davinder Singh revealed that he was in fact innocent.
Thanks to post-Pulwama “surgical strikes” Congress lost even in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh, where it ruled. Even Rahul Gandhi lost its citadel, Amethi.
Modi’s self-image and brand prevailed. Modi captivated popular imagination as a strong leader: ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai (If Modi is there, then it’s possible). Through the power of propaganda, Modi brazenly bagged credit for all achievements of previous Congress governments.
The truth is that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who abolished the zamindari system. It is Nehru, not Modi, who set up the space center that catapulted India’s ASAT Shakti.
Sun Tzu’s and Kautliya’s principles were used not only in World War II but also in the Cold War period (to hoodwink own and foreign people). Sun Tzu says, ‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles’.
When India abrogated the special status of the disputed Kashmir state the world remained a silent spectator. Kashmir is an unnoticed prison. Modi government’s propaganda portrayed Pakistan as a hub of terror and created FATF difficulties.
Modi government wants India to hone its already sharp propaganda ploys. Pakistan should take cue, and adopt countermeasures.
Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been contributing freelance for over fifty years. His articles are published in dailies at home (The News, Nation, etc) and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, et. al.). He is the author of eight e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes, and other Issues in Focus. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.