JNU – ‘Anti National Controvery’ – 3

Mr Chomsky is well respected for his fearless critique of the US Foreign Policy. His famous work ‘Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media’ written along with E.S Herman in the 80’s essentially talks about the propaganda model of communication. In the book they discuss how media outlets are essentially for profit entities where the financial interests of the shareholders are paramount. Advertisment revenue is the main source of revenue as a result advertisers hold sway on the content. The news sources are typically well entrenched sources from the incumbent political establishment or bureaucracy. These sources need to be kept “happy” else the media would be starved of news and lose readership / viewership. Adverse reaction to news items or flak can result in loss of revenue. More importantly the prospect of flak can lead to non reporting of certain events. He also refers to social control mechanisms, earlier anti – communism and later war on terror which can be editorial distortion filter. More info here .

Current situation in the Indian news media space can be defined as that of manufacturing dissent. Fanning this narrative of dissent everywhere, creating this image of men in kalashnikovs (or with swords in this case as it is how workers of the ruling party and its associates, referred to as the Sangh Parivar, are caricatured), minority victimisation etc. I mean common men (or mango men so very contemptuously mentioned by the scion of the Indian political monopolists) like me are left scratching their heads. Its almost like a sustained disinformation campaign.

The JNU controversy essentially starts with a bunch of students sloganeering objectionable things. No one would have bothered had the slogans been anti – government, anti – ‘A’ minister or ‘B’ minister or even the ‘Prime Minister’ for that matter. What incensed the people was the mention of ‘India’s destruction’ in those slogans. What followed was a logical sequence of events with the university authorities taking cognizance of the activities by these students. A police complaint filed by a Member of Parliament belonging to the BJP. The police took over and finally arrested the students.

Excellent piece by Mr Sankant Sanu. His analogy should be read first especially by people not currently residing in India.

Imagine a big public funded University, say UT Austin, of which I am an alum. They hold a public event to commemorate the martrydom of Osama bin Laden by security forces. Not only that, they proclaim his death would be avenged and they will not rest till the US is destroyed and broken up into pieces. This is what allegedly happened at JNU that got people incensed. (What actually happened may need us to wait for the court to sift through all the evidence).

Now you might argue, that all this is protected free speech, but you can imagine the outrage in the US. You’d also bet the FBI would be on it. And, of course, India is far stricter on free speech where a stray remark on the Prophet would get you in jail and where Satanic Verses was banned (by the Congress government).

Mr Chomsky incidentally is a signatory to an open letter to protest the high handedness of the authorities out here. Unfortunately, he seems to have got swayed by the systematic disinformation campaign which is purely political in nature. The opposition parties are desperate to fan this narrative before every state elections and climaxing in 2019.


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