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Understanding political language of today

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”  ― Ludwig Wittgenstein

Somebody will be able to overcome any encryption technique you use! -Noam Chomsky

“Language is my whore, my mistress, my wife, my pen-friend, my check-out girl. Language is a complimentary moist lemon-scented cleansing square or handy freshen-up wipette.” ― Stephen Fry

Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.  ― George Orwell

Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state. – Noam_chomsky

Everyone knows that when you look at a television ad, you do not expect to get information. You expect to see delusion and imagery.- Noam Chomsky

Politics is much about communication. The political language of a particular time reveals about the character of both leaders as well as citizens. The present political discourse in India, especially on the eve of General Elections 2019 is marked by degeneration in political language at least in three respects. First, political language of the day is marked by a slugfest, pointing fingers on each other either by using abusive language against a party or against a leader. And it is true across the board, irrespective of which party one belongs to. Second remarkable degeneration is about “motives and purpose” of communication. The second aspect of degeneration is important because today’s political language intends to “mislead” rather than “lead” and “blur” the “truth” rather than “revealing” the truth. The third folly of today’s political language is its tendency to look things always in a “binary divide” and evaluate correctness of an idea in “absolutist” fashion, i.e., if one idea is good, it is good in all respects while the other idea has to be bad in all respects. This particular tendency is what gives birth to “one-upmanship” and “authoritarian” mindset.

Controversial Statements of political leaders/sympathizers

The opposition has formed Mahagathbandhan against the BJP, but the ‘Mahagathbandhan is mahamilavat’. –Narendra Modi

The Congress…destroyed the country for dynastic rule (vanshavad); is destroying itself while trying to save the dynasty.” –Narendra Modi

“Remember, they are the ones who threaten “boti-boti” and we are here to ensure safety and honour of ‘beti-beti’ (every daughter).” –Narendra Modi

Gali gali mein shor hai, Hindustan ka chowkidar chor hai (There is noise everywhere, the country’s guard is a thief).”- Rahul Gandhi

“I thought India was producing 450 jobs a day. Turns out Modi’s policies destroyed 1 crore jobs in 2018. That’s 27,000 jobs lost every single day of 2018. India’s PM is a joke.”-Rahul Gandhi

“Agar Congress, SP, BSP ko Ali par vishwaas hai, toh humein bhi Bajrang Bali par vishwaas hai (If the Congress, the SP and the BSP have faith in Ali, then we too have faith in Bajrang Bali)”.- Yogi Adityanath

‘Modi ki Sena,’- Yogi Adityanath

” Jo Ram ka nahin woh humare kisi kaam ka nahin(Those who can’t be loyal to Lord Ram are of no use).” – Yogi Adityanath

The Opposition of treating illegal immigrants as a vote bank and doing ‘Ilu Ilu’ with terrorists, “Rahul baba’s guru Sam Pitorda said do not bomb (Pakistan) but negotiate… Rahul baba if your party wants, do ‘Ilu Ilu’ with terrorists, This time it was the Narendra Modi government and not ‘mauni baba’ Manmohan Singh… within 13 days of the attack.”,….- -Amit Shah

Firecrackers would be burst in celebration in Pakistan if the BJP loses in the Bihar assembly polls. …” – Amit Shah

“BJP would make India a “Hindu Pakistan” if it came to power in 2019”.-Shashi Tharoor

“Votes can’t be won on the basis of beautiful faces. Moreover, she is the wife of Robert Vadra, who is accused of being involved in land scam and corruption cases.”- Vinod Narayan Jha

By extending support to CPI candidate Kanhaiya Kumar, Kejriwal has shown that his real sympathy lies with urban naxalism and “Tukde-Tukde” gang. – Vijendra Gupta

“Taj Mahal Ek khoobsurat kabristan hai (Taj Mahal ‘a beautiful graveyard).”- Anil Vij

“Mahatma Gandhi’s image did not help Khadi and caused devaluation of the currency”. – Anil Vij

“The act (Kathua rape-murder) must have been committed by Pakistan’s agents to divide people by chanting Jai Shriram”- Nandkumar Singh Chouhan

“Those who do not want to sing Vande Mataram should go to Pakistan.” – Diwakar Raote

“Darwin’s theory (of evolution of humans) is scientifically wrong. It needs to change in school and college curriculum. Since the man is seen on Earth he has always been a man.” -Satyapal Singh

“Kauravas” were born out of stem cell and that Lord Vishnu had possessed heat missile technology.- Jalandhar, G Nageswara Rao, Andhra University Vice Chancellor

According to an Indian Express report, during the July 23 celebration of Kargil Vijay Diwas – which began with a tricolour march – JNU vice chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar requested Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and V.K. Singh to help the university procure a tank to remind students of the “great sacrifices and valour of the Indian army”. Crediting the vice chancellor for proclaiming “victory over JNU,” retired Indian army officer G.D. Bakshi added that there were several other “forts like Jadavpur and Hyderabad university which our army will capture.”

Citizens who are recipients of political communication are very confused today. They are tired of communication raining in on electronics and social media and also on print media, which have their own commercial interests and political affiliations. Propaganda is being rained on peoples’ minds so as to establish “untruth” as “truth”, “unimportant” as “important” and set priorities according to their own “vested interest” rather than “people’s aspirations and needs.”

The first tendency of slugfest in political language is nothing but the desire of the political class to be in political power by hook or crook. Mudslinging is done on the opposition parties and leaders to demean them and destroy their image. This is the result of competitive politics without values. Another remarkable feature of this slugfest is that it aims at “legitimizing” one set of idea, howsoever, flawed and “delegitimizing” another set of idea, howsoever beautiful. Such slugfest is reflection of politics of anger, frustration, revenge and retribution. Slugfest, howsoever expedient in winning election, is reflection of “meanness” of politicians. It eventually increases bitterness in society and polity, which no “sane” politician would like.

The second tendency regarding “motives and purpose” of communication is the product of lack of “honesty and integrity” among the leaders and political parties. Whatever they say has an opposite motive and purpose than what they portray in their communication. The ruling class has only one goal, i.e., how to retain power? The political language in such cases has to be “fox like”, i.e., deceiving the recipient. The high ideal plateaus are created to hide the ground realities that perplex and disturb people. The political leaders do not want to face the “ugly realities on ground” as their own “failure or responsibility” and their communication is always meant for “evading the realities” for which they are accountable. They prefer to fill the minds of the people by unreal, by a “make believe” world. In a way they try to bring people under the impression of “opium” of an idea that takes them to an artificial “pleasant and entertaining” realm, far from the reality.  This amounts to deceiving and befooling the people. George Orwell has rightly pointed out, ““The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.”

The third tendency of “binary divisions” and “absolutist ideas” emanates from the realization of what works better in electioneering. The long protracted and complex socio-economic issues do not have quick fixes. The political leaders and parties know this better. Therefore, they create “convenient categories” putting “one country against the other, one identity against the other, one race against the another, one religion against the other” and in India one “caste against the  other”. Creation of “patriots” on one side and “anti-nationals” on the other side is the final division. Divisive and emotive issues work better in electioneering than unifying and rational ideasd. The task of campaigning becomes much easier by creating binary divisions of “people” and “ideas” so as to avoid serious discussions and answering legitimate questions on important issues. In the process, the space for dissent, discussion, analysis and synthesis shrinks and finally intolerance and violence becomes order of the day.

The last and most important aspect of modern day political communication is a “common idiom” which is used as a facade to hide the real motives and purpose of communication, which politicians use to cheat people and mesmerize them like a pied piper to vote them to power irrespective of their credentials. There is a remarkable competition to use “sweeteners” to cover their ulterior and vested interests. These idioms confuse people who is good or bad and who means what. The idioms have a remarkable continuity in both ruling party’s and opposition parties’ communication. George Orwell points out to such a tendency when he says, “The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice, have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of régime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way.”

Political language mostly fails to serve the purpose of the commoners or citizens. It serves the interest and purpose of the “power” hungry politicians and their fund raising sources or in other words “business houses”. To conclude, it is apt again to quote George Orwell, “political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.”

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