Have you noticed the increasing use of animal terminology in political communication? Recently, I overheard a group of men talking, almost furtively, about dogs barking, a person claiming that a strong leader could make even donkeys do the work he desired and so forth. Well, yes, dogs do bark, particularly when they become suspicious of their owners facing threat and donkey’s work is embodied by their carrying their masters’ burden. With all due respect that these animals command, whether dogs or donkeys, I am fairly disturbed by political jargon suddenly taking this turn. Why bring in animals into any political race? It is difficult to say that political communication of this nature is suggestive of it going down. Simply because it would be suggestive of insulting the animals, dogs, donkeys and others being made “political” use of. No offence is intended to any creed or breed of living beings. Not because dogs are considered one’s best friend and donkeys tireless workers but simply because politicking and such communication (viz. usage of animal terminology) bears little or no linkage to facts. Even stray dogs unite and bark together during nights when they sense disturbance from outsiders in their territory.
Something is seriously wrong somewhere. This is also suggested by hype raised about the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)’s hostel fees being Rs 10 and this “information” spreading literally like wildfire. Choosing not to rely on my own memory, I did a rudimentary survey of those who had been in JNU hostel from around the mid-1980s to later. Just the room fee was 10 times more than `10. If the mess and other charges are included, it multiplies further. Of course, it is possible, that there was a phase when hostel and other fees of educational institutions were together less than Rs 10. That may have been the pre-Independence era when a monthly salary of Rs 100 was considered equivalent to what one lakh rupees is nowadays, which is a multiplication of 100 by 1,000. JNU was founded in 1969.
Obviously, the amount — of Rs 10 as JNU hostel fees — was deliberately picked up to convince people of the need to hike the same. Nowadays, nobody considers Rs 10 as appropriate for labour, even for the smallest tasks. When need be, “news” can be manipulated to any degree without due consideration of it being anywhere near reality. Money talks in politics more “convincingly” than probably any other language. This is also suggested by attempts being made to defuse the negative impact of inflation. We all know that onion prices have succeeded in toppling governments many times. Of late, the attempt is being made to use the inflation problem linked with onion in a new manner. At least, this is what this scribe learned from “sources” appearing to be fairly well-versed on this issue. In their opinion, onions are being used to prepare nuclear bombs for targeting India’s permanent enemy. What a “logic” — deflating an inflationary impact by using once again the much tested Pak-card. Onions do bring tears to the eyes but circulation of “reports” that they are being used to make bombs for nothing else but targeting one particular neighbour and hence their prices being high does explain one fact. Certain leaders are working overtime to manufacture readymade answers to whatever problems people may be affected by. Please note, the greater their distance is from providing solutions, the stronger is their drive to prepare such answers.
Howsoever assertive Prime Minister Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah may appear to be about their stand on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), they have not been spared diplomatic criticism. With respect to the government’s attempt at countering diplomatic charges by describing the CAA as an internal matter, not all are willing to accept this logic. After all, it is the question of giving citizenship to certain minorities being oppressed in a few neighbouring countries and taking action against those who cannot prove their citizenship as per dictates decided by authorities.
Well, it is clearly astonishing that the alleged “xx-inch-you-know-what” is being turned against ladies assembled at Shaheen Bagh. One may be wrong, but political jargons through various means are strongly suggestive of this. Of course, this is not a joke. But, with the Pak-card having lost its former appeal, attempts are being made to use the “xx-inch-card” elsewhere. Also, prospects of it having any impact by turning it against Congress leaders are as good as dead. So Shaheen Bagh has been picked up. Some consideration should have been given to not displaying such political punches against ladies assembled there, particularly those who have crossed 70 or 80 and are in their 90s. Greater importance has apparently been given to using the much practised anti-Muslim card here.
A limited impact of these punches is marked by the anti-CAA-NRC-NPR protests showing no signs of dying down. A possible linkage between this and trying a new card cannot be ruled out. This refers to firing incidents that have taken place recently targeting protesters. The individuals firing shots have been reportedly described as “mentally unstable”?
Where did they get their “weapons” from? If they are “mentally unstable”, why were they given pistols? Oh dear, what a jungle drama present-day politics is taking the shape of. Seriously speaking, perhaps the “onion-card” and these firing incidents do explain the usage of animal terminology in certain quarters. But electoral results are not always decided by dogs barking or donkeys braying!
The writer is a journalist with specialisation in communication studies and nuclear diplomacy. She is also the author of several books....