Hidden Persuaders!?

Sometime back I read about the book “Hidden Persuaders” written by Vance Packard in 1956. It is interesting to note that the observations made almost a century ago seem more relevant today! At least in India….May be I am wrong Hidden persuaders are keeping their “iron grip” on the masses, almost everywhere like a curse! May be their ‘kind’ varies! Somewhere it is glamour, at others it is power, still others are followers of a religion…some others are simply salesmen!

The author of the book believes that the right of privacy of our minds and of our existence as dictated by our inner self is a basic and important human right. But the Persuaders have “invaded this privacy of our minds”. The author asserts that ‘it is this right to privacy of our minds – privacy to be rational or irrational – that I believe we must strive to protect”. Unfortunately, that striving is visible nowhere. We seem to be simply being led as the kids followed the mythical ‘pied-piper’.
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And unfortunately today, in the age of consumerism and electronic media, in the age of IT based instant communication, this right is being violated with impunity. Marketing is the new name for such hidden persuasion. Consumers and citizens all over the world have been reduced to hopeless and hapless victims of the alluring charm of the hidden persuader, who cheerfully lends his services to anyone, REPEAT, ANYONE, FOR A PRICE!
Film and sports celebrities are the worst culprits in this regard. They take upon themselves the responsibility of ‘persuading’ people from all walks of life, specially the youth and kids, to buy/use and project the items as crucial to one’s image/pride/beauty/macho-ism, including presenting oneself as progressive! So Amitabh Bachan sells himself to sell an oil of dubious credentials and Hema Malini swears by the purity of the water cleaned by the purifier of a particular brand! The list is long!
I  wonder as to why these charming persuaders sell their conscience to be-fool their unsuspecting fans? The fans because of whom they stand where they are? Only for a few ‘more’ bucks? Also, the moot question is – why are the people so gullible?
In the political arena, Hitler was one of the pioneer persuader who sold the idea of German superiority to the gullible (or too nationalistic) Germans. So much so that they were convinced that the Jews ought to be wiped out from this earth! Political leaders of South Asia, many African and other countries have sold the idea of their National superiority to be at war with the neighbours perpetually! India and Pakistan wre included in that list. So is USA under Trump! The danger to a religion is the most saleable argument to these persuaders.

It also defies logic as to Why intelligent people consider their pride and self image so fragile? Why do they get trapped by the sweet talk, knowing fully well that the celebrities are doing it only for money which is included in the pricing of the product? And politicians are doing for snatching power from their opponents?  People often ignore their own rationality for dubious claims of the charmers! But why?

 
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Mama’s boy

He was always a ‘mama’s’ boy. I hope you know what I mean. I believe in Indian situation, every boy is a mama’s boy. The degree may differ. But he was a mama’s boy by choice. Like most Indian mothers his mother had sacrificed her lot of comfort for his happiness. Seeing her slog (not in the usual sense of the term) he had decided early in life that he would never let her down, come what may. Probably he had written the script for his life quite early!happiness vs unhappiness

As usual, the situation had to change after his marriage. But, although he supported his wife duly, whenever there was a conflict between the two ladies, he stood by his mother, even inviting the wrath of his wife. He did realize that sometimes his wife was more correct than his mother but he stood by his resolution steadfastly. He always thought his mother would not be alive forever…so he could make amends after she departs for her heavenly abode.

Obviously, life and death are not a wishful thinking. As luck would have their youthful time passed more quickly than it should have! When the old lady said final goodbye, they were in their fifties. Was it too late? He made another resolution ….not to let down his wife any more. But the young lady (no more so young) viewed everything suspiciously. Sometimes shocked, at others simply surprised! He would stand by her when she faced the children (now quite grown up), her parents and siblings, even his own relatives! Gradually she understood and started enjoying the new relationship! Jointly they would rue for the lost youthful time but they decided not to waste the time on the past.

Human selfishness knows no ends

Recently read the story “A Family” by Guy de Maupassant and liked it…theme as well as presentation.It is a story about the plight of an old paralytic man who is denied food by his benefactors in the name of his health. The denial seems cruel to the narrator who feels that the entire family is actually enjoying the misery of the old man; and the denial is, actually, not to save the old man but to protect their own source of entertainment. ……A good peep into human psychology which also demonstrates that selfishness and cruelty is not the monopoly of any society and period.

Standing up and be counted!

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When human rights and human dignity is at stake, it is the duty of every right thinking person to oppose the perpetrators of injustice. When the powers that be are vindictive believe in suppressing dissent with brute power, it becomes necessary to stand up and be counted even at the risk to your limb and life! Some young people have  shown exemplary courage in this regard. But most secure and highly placed/affluent persons in India have miserably failed in standing by the truth and humanity. They have been too scared to risk their cozy habitats!
I am amazed at the capability of Bollywood celebrities to steer clear of all controversial, but still important, issues – particularly if the issue involves powerful people or can offend them. One such recent issue is the stand taken by a young student named Gurmehar Kaur against the state sponsored terror oriented censorship by ABVP. Recently, Divya Dutta, an actress and columnist (and now an author) visited Government College for Women in our city Ludhiana. As expected, she was asked to comment on the issue raging in the minds of all right thinking people. But she refused to comment saying “I don’t want to discuss politics here, neither do I want to comment on the issue. No comments at all”
Readers of her column in the Tribune would know that she regularly comments on the ‘achievements’ of every Bollywood celebrity, talks of love, compassion, courage and character! She always speaks from the high platform of virtuosity but when it comes to real life issues she asserts  NO COMMENTS! Strange! isn’t it? Indian celebrities only want to make “please all” comments!This was me on election morning. Wearing white, wearing a pantsuit, and full of hope.
Compare it with the attitude and behavior of Hollywood celebrities who came forward in hordes to condemn the racial and parochial approach of  President Trump to the American values. Latest to join the ‘fighters’ is JK Rowling, the Harry Potter sensation, who called the bluff of Trump on Women’s day. To Trump’s tweet about his ‘tremendous respect for women’, Rowling re-quoted his earlier comment on women “Just kiss, I don’t ever wait …grab them by the p****y …you can do anything”. Bravo Rowling!
It is shameful that Indian celebrities who survive on the goodwill and money of ordinary people, don’t want to come out in the open to call a spade a spade! Humanity and human rights/justice dont seem to them topics worthy enough to demand their time and reaction. How can justice to poor band have-nots be ensured?

Fascism Risk

Dictionary meaning of Fascism describes it as a political regime having totalitarian aspirations, ideologically based on a relationship between business and the centralized government; business and govt. control of the marketplace, repression of criticism and opposition, a leader cult and exalting the state and/or religion above individual rights. It was originally only applied to Benito Mussolini’s Italy.

According to Wikipedia, Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict to respond effectively to economic difficulties. Such a state is led by a strong leader and Fascism rejects the assertion that violence is automatically negative in nature and in fact, views political violence, war and imperialism as means of national rejuvenation! Strangely enough, most fascists don’t like to be called as such because the term has gained notoriety historically…Particularly after Hitler’s genocide of Jews.

Dr. Lawrence Britt has written an essay in the Free Inquiry magazine, Spring 2003 issue listing and entitled “Fourteen characteristics of Fascism.” This he did after studying the regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and Pinochet (Chile). These regimes have been, almost unanimously, acknowledged as being fascist and have 14 elements in common. Fascist regimes tend to have:

i. Powerful and continuing nationalism.

ii. Disdain for the recognition of Human Rights

iii. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as unifying

iv. Supremacy of the military

v. Rampant Sexism

vi. Controlled mass media.

vii. Obsession with national security

viii. Religion and government are intertwined

ix. Corporate power is protected

x. Labor power is suppressed

xi. Disdain for the in intellectuals and arts

xii. Obsession with crime and punishment

xiii. Rampant cronyism and corruption

xiv. Fraudulent Elections

Unfortunately, most of the countries tend to come under this obnoxious tag…even the world’s most powerful and populous democracies. Masses are willing to be swayed by parochial nationalistic aspirations and space and willingness for dissent is shrinking by the day! Democratic values are at the risk of being abandoned for more populist appeals. The humanity today stands at the crossroads! God be with the liberals!

Mother’s Role

 

We must admit that mother’s involvement with the child is totally different than the father’s. You cannot wish away the nine months of the child in the womb of the mother or the first year after birth when the child is closer to the mother than to anyone else. This develops a special bond between the mother and the child. This “umbilical chord” cannot really be snapped. So the mother does have the additional responsibility for inculcating ethical values in the child.image0042

My Mother

If a mother tells the son to respect women ,he can never indulge in eve teasing. This role has taken a backseat in the last three four decades. And the result is for all of us to see.

 

Nationalism is not the end in itself!

A lot of air is polluted these days. Unfortunately, the ideological air is polluted more than the environmental air! Indian ideological air today seems to be infected by those ideas that claim to be based on or draw strength from a “holy” concept called nationalism. An old saying goes that excess of everything is bad. Add to this the fact that even noble ideas out of context can create havoc! Excuse me for saying so, but NATIONALISM as it is in the air today seems to be doing more damage than good. In any case, at best of times it is a parochial concept that robs the much better idea of humanism.
Remember, Hitler killed millions of Jews on the pretext of German nationalism. Aurangzeb committed atrocities on the people in the name of Islamic nationalism and the same is being done today by the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. Just as two wrongs can not make one right, every action cannot be ‘sanctified’ by engulfing it with the holy cow concepts, presently nationalism! To take pride in ones nation is a laudable idea but to force everyone to share my intensity is not. If we lambast Muslim rulers of the yore for their hegemony, how can we justify similar behaviour on our part? Equating every action with my own sense of nationalism is not going to achieve the purpose I espouse. So…let the thousand flower bloom. May be that enriches your own nation.