Handling Hector

BY A Dissenter| IN Media Practice | 23/10/2009
The liberal-left is getting clobbered in the TV debates on Naxal violence.
A DISSENTER dishes out sound advice in effective communication for lefties and left-outs.

Ladies and Gents of India's bleeding heart (and you, o lambent Mistress of Mizar):


Round one, and you're getting clobbered out there. Ouch. While you're in the corner, brow getting stitched, heed this lonely cry from the nose-bleeds for in the age of mass communication and electronic propaganda, you are a lightweight (I surely do not mean you here, faithful one :).


It is not your fault. You can hardly be expected to handle such heavyweights, hardened by years of electoral discourse. You are only a few seasons old, sparring with hoary battle-axes. Of course you are hectored with ease, you're dealing with pros! Therefore, without casting any aspersions on your integrity, without debating ideology, and eschewing any and all authority on principles please accept this humble offering as strictly Semiotic advice in a era of sound-bitten, sales-driven signifiers.




  • SKIP THE CONDEMNATION. It is really not necessary anymore. Simply ignore, and move on. Really. The second you go, 'While I certainly do not agree with the methods of the Maoists, but-' Ding! Your time is up! You lose! Do not preface your position with a lengthy condemnation it is no longer necessary. You start off defensive, and you've lost the argument. But what can you do if your saliva-spewing adversary starts off by saying, 'How can you condone these beheadings'?


  • REFRAME THE QUESTION. 'Condemning or condoning is not the question at all. The question is _________.' Fragrant gentry, nobody said just because you've been asked a question, you need to answer it. This is routine for veterans. Simply do not answer these questions. Reframe them, and launch into your pre-prepared piece. 'The point is not _______, but that the government is making a terrible mistake.'


  • FOCUS ON ONE IDEA. Winged folk, this is your story so far, somewhat: 'Actually the people are disaffected because of gross negligence by the state. Also, the state is wiping them out in order to exploit their mineral and vegetable riches. Meanwhile, the Maoists simply exploit this situation and are causing an insurgency. So really, we are not just dealing with Maoists, but real problems underneath. Hence we should not allow the state, who is also responsible, to just go in with arms, but begin dialogues- ' YAAAWNNNN. What an earful. Plus, it sounds vaguely patronizing. Forgive me, winged folk, for I do not mean to mock you. And please, let us not get bogged down with my interpretation of your story, but deal with its form. I repeat, please consider the form. The FORM.


You have all the pieces right, but you have them backward. The historical basis is ages ago. The armed operation is NOW. I cringe every time you are given the podium, exalted sirs and madams, for I know you are going to launch into a little history lesson. This media frenzy leaves no time for sermons at this juncture  start at armed operations. What you want NOW is to stop armed operations. So start there: 'STOP ARMED OPERATIONS'. This is it. The history lesson can come later. But then what?


  • COIN A PHRASE. Now this is the coup, tiger. The ace up your sleeve. Semantics, Semiotics, Syntax, Sahibs and Sahibaans. I am not talking ideology. If you can't dodge the blows by bobbing and weaving, start Spinning, champ! I invoke with grim admiration spin doctors par extraordinaire inspiration to our redoubtable home ministry: In order to crush THE AXIS OF EVIL, we have to declare a WAR ON TERROR so that we may preserve OUR WAY OF LIFE. In the days and months that followed, the superlative use of just these three phrases masterfully hypnotized a nation. They just hit them again and again  AXIS OF EVIL. WAR ON TERROR. OUR WAY OF LIFE. Repeat. So what should be our syllogism?


A respectful aside, with your permission. I will now briefly abandon ideological agnosticism in order to construct an example, which I may humbly profess, has potential; but first a criticism. It appears that the joint, amorphous, wobbly, jello-like left/liberal camp is demanding that the state stop war and start dialogues with the CPI (Maoist). Is this true, eminent persons of the non-right?


Maybe it's just me, but them Maoists sho' don't seem like talkative types to yours truly! However, this apparently is the position that the afore-mentioned nebulous shambling mold of a liberal camp is taking. I personally (and humbly, with your permission) believe this is a dead-end stance. However much we may demand it, our Maoist brethren will simply not play nice. So STOP ARMED OPERATIONS, but what then?


<start example>I offer you:



This calls for GREAT VIGILANCE.


This forked tongue, scented beings, has only come up with this for now.


Dear Hectoring anchor,





This calls for GREAT VIGILANCE.

<end example>


Defending Development: Instead of hunting Naxals, protect road workers. Don't clear villages, fortify them with prosperity. Make war on poverty by protecting engineers/whoever, and the Naxals may be forced to come to the table. It is hard, arduous and even sounds doomed, but this seems to me the only rational course in this crazy scenario. Developing democratic institutions only makes sense to people with full bellies, so get that done first. Don't make war, defend development instead.


But only real Development will do, not Exploitation by a bunch of big, often foreign companies. Honor Tribal acts, defend human rights and share the wealth sustainably. 


This is only possible with Great Vigilance - if you allow the Human Rights Watch, the UN, NGOs or whoever to monitor this progress.


Stop Armed Operations, Defend Development instead. Defend Development, not Exploitation. Do so with Great Vigilance. Repeat. Pretty straightforward? Try it out in a couple of different sentences  they just flow!


I humbly believe this could form a reasonable, communicable stance, but I shall halt my impudence here.


  • UNIFY YOUR STANCE. Fairly obvious, my opinionated kinsmen. This mass of opinion is too fractious, nebulous and confusing moot the meetings, write the write-ups, consolidate, craft the message, but one message, whatever it is, in the manner described above. Put your differences aside.


Venerated Dukes and Duchesses, you are wiser than this wicked servant of sophistry, who offers not the profound insight of the philosopher, but the cringing, low cunning of the peddler. Come together in your hallowed halls, debate in your lofty tongues, speak then as one voice. But craft your counterpunches in simple, snappy, soundbites - use the medium, don't fight it. 


Round Two. Go get 'em.


A Dissenter.













Subscribe To The Newsletter
The new term for self censorship is voluntary censorship, as proposed by companies like Netflix and Hotstar. ET reports that streaming video service Amazon Prime is opposing a move by its peers to adopt a voluntary censorship code in anticipation of the Indian government coming up with its own rules. Amazon is resisting because it fears that it may alienate paying subscribers.                   

Clearly, the run to the 2019 elections is on. A journalist received a call from someone saying they were from Aajtak channel and were conducting a survey, asking whom she was going to vote for in 2019. On being told that her vote was secret, the caller assumed she wasn't going to vote for 'Modiji'. The caller, a woman, also didn't identify herself. A month or two earlier the same journalist received a call, this time from a man, asking if she was going to vote for the BSP.                 

View More