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War Time Propaganda against the Farmer Protest in India

January 11, 2021 | By

Nowadays, India is protesting against new farm laws, lawsmade by Indian government during pandemic period of Covid-19, a pandemic which has paused body and mind of the people from regular issues and bringsthe issue of survival at the centre. There are someissuesthat are raised by farmers and experts; first, why these laws are introduced in emergency?The answer to this question and the aspect of ‘need’ is absent in the statements and repliesmade by the government.Second,agriculture is not the subject of centre; it is state subject, so that the farmer laws introduced by centre government are unconstitutional. Third, in the law making process the farmers wereneither consulted nor asked for the laws. Fourth, these laws are considered harmful for agriculture sector, for farmers as well as other small scale traders of India and seem very favourable for corporate capitalist companies. On the basis of these questions, the farmers and experts from Punjab asked Indian government to repeal the laws but government, instead of repealing the laws, has started to propagate the benefits of laws. Indian government showed its adamant attitude and did not pay required attention to farmer sayings.Farmers from Punjab state started to protest against the laws. Some other major issues like complete federal rights of the states, right to open trade to the west Punjab and South Asia from East Punjab were also added. In the mean time the government tagged two other tails; pollution and electricity bill. Then the appeal developed itself as to repeal five laws instead of three.Government invited farmer leaders to talk on the issue of laws but they were not entertained properly so farmers felt insulted. The farmer union leaders have given an advance programme to protest in Delhi from November 26th, 2020. And the movement ‘DilhiChallo’ began. The farmers have been there on the prominent roads of Delhi since November 26th.

The sequence of meetings has been started. Like every earlier meeting, the 8th meeting (January 8th, 2021) ended inconclusive because both parties were notconsented. During this era of meetings the statements of ministers are needed to be understood. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on 6th January, “I am sure that farmer unions who are agitating will understand the idea behind agriculture laws and they will think about the welfare of farmers and actively arrive at a solution by a positive discussion”. Same day a minister PiyushGoyal stated, “I see that as an opportunity at these discussions to explain to farmers that the new laws are in their interest and in the interest of the country.

I tell them that the entire country will benefit if farmers’ income increases and their lives, as well as the lives of their children, will get better”. Both statements have made it clear that government is not sincere about the issueof farmers to repeal laws. It seems that they are just waiting for the moment when farmers will come to the terms of government. For government, these meetings are just an opportunity to propagate the benefits of laws by explaining the same. Statement of agriculture minister indicates that farmer unions are not thinking about the welfare of farmers. It seems that the government isinsincere towards the position of protesterswho are on roads in the chilly environment and day by day there is an increase in the deaths of farmers. This insincerity shows that government is in try to delay the issue and want to defeat with some methods other than accepting the demands of the farmers but on the other side, farmers understand that this is fight of existence, of life, of theirmother like land.The Wire published an opinion under the title of “for farmers, this agitation is an issue of survival against corporate”. Most of farmers feel that it is not an opinion, not an agitation; it is a war, war against oppressor and corporate capitalist parasites.

All the eyes are centred on the meetings between government and farmers. Though the government authorities became convinced with logic of farmers that laws have many faults and they are ready to change it but the post-meetings statements of ministers claim something else. Different state leaders and workers of ruling party BJP are intensively making efforts to stop the farmers to join the protest against centre government. The farmer community believe that Indian government and ruling party follow deceptive behaviour of delaying and defeating.

On one side government is continuing its sequence of conversation with farmer union leaders which is reached at its 9th round of talk and on the other side;government is slandering the farmers, blaming the protesters from different angles. The government has been trying to defend the laws but earlier discussed four questions have not been answered yet. Government has nothing to say to farmers except the repetition of benefits of laws. The propaganda in the favour of laws has been exhausted. The number of protesters and the pressure of the protest are increasing day by day. The present Indian government has passed and implemented various laws and has already faced great protests like protests against NCR, Kashmir issue but Modi government has not bowed on any of these. Moreover government crushed the protests violently. It is seen that since 2014, Modi government has been showing its adamant behaviour and has remained immovable on any of its previous decision.Farmers are in majority in India and this protest is initiated by the Sikh farmers of Punjab who have a great history of fighting with the powerful empires. And on the other hand farmer protest is getting more and more strength with national as well as international support of states, political leaders, individuals and other communities.

In these inflexible conditions,‘wartime propaganda’has been initiated under the target system. Propaganda machinery becomes active in different ways on different platforms. After November 26th, 2020, there is great increase innumber of articles published and on web regarding the issue. The government started wartime propaganda against the farmer protest which was initiated from the popular media control.Wartime propaganda is an intensive stage of psychological warfare against enemies. On that stage some tested methods of psychological attack are deceptions, sweeping statements of political leaders, rumour spreading, suspicious orders, plantation of false information, cynical statements to damage the other side, active noise machinery, spreading of unofficial information of firing or arrests, use of data tactics against enemy etc. Various type denials, delaying of the issues are some other tactics which are mostly used against the subjects of own country. Wartime propaganda wasmade popular in world wars after that is has been used in various fired and cold wars in the world.

The statements of ministers make it clear that government is still on its stand regarding farm laws. It seems that the implementation of these farmer lawshas become the target of Modi government. The power has often long arms. It canapproach the media houses, university and academics, administrative system of information and propaganda companies etc. easily. It has strong control on the information and misinformation system of intelligence. The government can easily outsource propaganda with proper target. In Indian farmer protest, relatively protesters are not resourceful as like as the Modi government. They are only approachable to social media platform and some fair media channels. Farmers put earlier mentioned four questions to Modi government which has been unanswered till now. Escaping the questions of farmers, government published and disseminated some pamphlet in newspapers to uphold the laws. On December 17th, 2020 centre government issued a 100 page e-booklet ”Putting Farmers First” to highlight the success stories of farmers who have benefited from contract farming after enactment of these legislations.The PM recommended the readingthat by tweeting “There is a lot of content, including graphics and booklets that elaborate on how the recent Agro-reforms help our farmers.”Decisive authority of the government has not been joining any meeting but tweeted to follow the government.

The propaganda against farmers has two dimensions, first, building the favour for government on this issue and second, breaking the consensus and unity of the farmers with cynical propaganda. Each dimension has various layers and narrative techniques. The government could not get a sufficient support in favour of laws. However government advertised in great number on various genres but remain unsuccessful to create a positive cognitive picture in the brains of majority population of India. This propaganda is becoming limited to the followers of the ruling party or junkie devotees of Modi only. On the other side, multi-dimensional and multi-layered cynical propaganda against protesters has been active since the beginning of protest and it is now spreading to other genres and areas.

On the initial stage, the government has tried to built an anti-national narrative against protester by addressing with tested metaphors like ‘Khalistani’ and ‘Naxallite’and new-created metaphors like ‘urban-Naxals’, ‘ultra leftist’.But this anti-national narrative could not take space in the psychology of common man. It was defused on initial stage and even some non-Punjab farmers asked the government whether demandingthe rights is called Khalistani then they all are Khalistani. It means psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics capacity of Indian population stopped accepting more national patriotic symbols and anti-national hatred metaphors. After the failure of patriot-terrorist narrative government opened another tracks, some are discussed below.

It is recognized that data is continuously producing to distinguish concerns of the Punjab farmer from farmers of other states. Some of articles/ talks published in various genres show that Punjab farmers are taking high subsidy from Indian government in compare to other states. The comparative better condition and income of Punjab farmers is targeting to defend the laws. The real condition of life of Punjab farmer is not brought into light. The ecological, economic and cultural violence done by Indian state in Punjab under green revolution is also not cited. Vandana Shiva, a recognised agriculture thinker, exposed the Indian state’s violence against Punjab farmer. False data generation andhiding the real factors and condition are exposed portion of disinformation methodology. But government is bitterly trying to break the support of protest with testified colonial formula of ‘divide’. It seems that Indian government deals farmers with oppressor’s methodology.In starting phase of meetings, government met only selected leaders of farmer unions. And among those, ministers stated the names of sympathetic faction of farmer unions to the government’s position and blamed other for not to resolve the issue. Those are divide tactics.

Public consciousness about the shared interests between corporate capitalism and Indian government generated a public discourse against corporate companies of Ambani and Adani. Irritated and adamant behaviour of Indian government triggered a public sentiment against Reliance telecom and number of customers quitted from JIO telecom. Some of them disconnected electricity connection of Reliance telecom towers or made some harm to towers. The number of towers harmed or disconnected in media is vary from nil to 2000. Term ‘vandalized’ is used for the public action on towers. ‘Vandalize’ is cynical term related to barbarian and savage means. Etymologically it is rooted from Germanic barbarian people ‘Vandal’ who sacked Rome in 455 AD. The term ‘vandalize’ is used for the conception of destroy, ruin. No tower was destroyed or ruined or vandalized in Punjab or Haryana but the term ‘vandalized’ was used in media and the statements of government personnel. The use of linguistic terms for the self and against the enemy is core of wartime propaganda. Godly symbols, adjectives, idioms are used for self but evil words discourses are tagged to the enemy in wartime propaganda. Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stated last days that the next war will be fought over in the minds of people also. That will be fought with the arms of language as well as screen. That is war of information or wartime propaganda which Indian government has been started against the farmer of India.

Wartime propaganda has a characteristic of repetitive announcements and block space of listening. Farmers asked four simple public questions but government has not been listening to those since moths. On the other side government repetitively holds mike to announcethe benefits of laws.Food minister takes the discussion with farmers as an opportunity to explain the benefits of laws.It means they have joined meetings for speaking only, not to listen ‘The Other’. The Prime Minister, who has not met a single time or called the farmers for the issue, recommendsto read or listen the benefits of laws and to watch the imaginative success stories of farmers who has got benefits from contract farming. The PM has not taking any part to resolve the issue but he is continuously speaking by tweeting, radio talks etc. against farmer protest. It is another face of wartime propaganda.

Irritating and frustrating the enemy is a part of target system of wartime propaganda. Governments’ behaviour of speaking only, delaying the demands, inconclusive meetings, repetitively asking for the amendments in thelaws, pushing farmers to follow laws and continuously attempting to influence farmer unions are shots to irritate and frustrate the farmers. It seems that Government desires to break the farmer’s patience and lead them to violence or any other notorious activity, so that the protest can be crushed. The government’s unsubstantiated intention can be imagined with the memory of its behaviour regarding the NRC and Kashmir issues protest and its seeds can be seen in the terminology like ‘vandalize’ for minor harm.

Wartime propaganda has a characteristic that it completely focuses on its target and attacks its target again and again. It seems clear that the target of Indian government is to impose new farmer laws, to break or crush protest. The government targets the protesters, their supporters and their leading nominees. Government called protesters the wandering crowd provoked by commission agents (arhtias), byCongress and other anti-BJP political parties etc. The term generated for the supporters of protest is ‘ill-informed’. Supporters from abroad are answering with the phrase ‘internal issue of India’, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau was answered with same method. When US state Wisconsin Assembly Speaker supported farmer protest in India,a remark was stated to him in media with word ‘farmers as “ill-informed” and “unwarranted”, asserting that the matter pertains to the internal affairs of democratic country. The irony is that it was called as internal matter of democratic country but the voice of farmer is not heard through the peaceful democratic protest. Farmer Union leaders are continuously blamed for not to finish the issue because they are not consistent on demands and promises. Ruling party sources stated to media, ‘the main reason that is hindering the government move to break the deadlock is that the leaders of farmer unions are not being consistent with their demands, which the government has learnt after talking to various groups in the last few days’. We can see another irony is that farmers are consistent on one issue of repeal the useless and unconstitutional laws. They have been taking part in meeting with one objective type question about to repeal laws only and ensure MSP, they are waiting for government’s reply holding placards written yes or no.Farmer and their nominees are called adamant by government and their supporters but in reality government is adamant to impose laws on farmers. The government’s behaviour to protect interests of corporate capitalist and Indian elite are exposing day by day before the whole country. A protest march was held on 6th January in Madurai, South India against Modi government’s non-democratic adamant position on farmer laws. Why does government keepsuch adamant behaviour because it is on the way to achieve target of imposing new farmer laws by using wartime propaganda.

The government has used its machinery to stop the protest forcibly, it was earlier done in Haryana, Delhi and UP states but now this usehas been stopped. Government has not yet started it again to crush the protest but spread of unofficial information and logic building process for the same has been started. Jeevan Gupta, general secretary, Punjab BJP said that he has informed Home minister Amit Shah that the situation is becoming more complicated in Punjab as many rogue elements are trying to use this protest for their benefits. Some articles and statements signal the possible violence. A non-Punjab farmer leader said that people hopes to best and prepare for the worst. Some warn to government also to take back step for not triggering the tragic game like Punjab 1980-1990. Wartime propaganda always tries to cash each psychological space of people for psychological warfare. Most of the public want to enjoy peaceful life. So it is very easy to suppress protesting elements in their minds. Prediction of possible oppression and terrible results of any protest become effective to break the support of any protest.

Vijay Rupani (Chief Minister of Gujarat)

Indian government and BJP ruling state governments have tried to allure farmers in various ways. In December Modi government credited some amount in the accounts of farmers under a central scheme. In the meantime Gujrat CM Rupani started KisanSuryodayYojanato cover 4000 Gujrat village by the end of January.He claims that it will be beneficial to hundreds of thousands farmers. Similarly it is released to press that UP chief minister Yogi Adityanathis going to introduce KisanKalyan Mission to make double income of state farmers. Departments related to agriculture and food concerns are attached to panchayats for the mission. From the wartime point of view,it is a symbol of activism of state machinery during the time of protest and it is a tactic to justify their stand that they are making efforts for the welfare of farmers. In simple words it is a method of wartime propaganda to break the support of farmer protest.

Social media control and management of information tactic hasalso been tried by banning facebook page of farmer union. Some misinformation on social media is also being spread. But the consciousness and strong determination of society, social media tactics could not be so effective as the government desires.
At the end, it should be kept in mind that farmers celebrate the protest like war and called it war against oppressor, against corporate capitalism and war for the existence but Indian government has not announced it as war but deals it like a war.Government tries many wartime propaganda tactics to manipulate, diverse and to break or crush the farmers protest of majority population of India but fortunately could not succeed till now. The farmer protest isbeing strengthened day by day as it is getting national and international support of various socio-political sections. Farmers are collectively making strong and logical replies to government’s each effort and statement. When Home Minister stated that there is no dearth of food in India and food production from Punjab is not required. Protesters asked a question in reply whythere is so muchstarvation and malnutrition in India. When fear sentiment is triggered then Khalsai warrior tradition is remembered. Farmers are on the way to fight on true moral lines. They are tolerating chill environment on the roads of Delhi, hundreds kilometres far from their houses, accepting number of daily deaths of their companions under the holy will of Waheguru and keeping solidarity against psychological warfare but their true character happily bears attacks of a world power enemy. Their happiness is seen in pictures in tough life on the roads. Their self discipline, peace loving, ecology favours and welfare nature attracts Delhi people as well as true heart people of the world. Various book stalls signify thatit is a protest of peaceful but conscious people. Some protesters plant seeds on road sides of Delhi. The Guru kelangerpresents their motive of welfare of all. Though government propaganda blames that their protest is sponsored by China but they continue theirlangerand washes all the blames with their true service by feeding people of every state and creed even government personnel. It is an irony that a common farmer understands the tactics of Indian government regarding the farmer protest and responds immediately to the same. Till now wartime propaganda of Indian government could not place anti-farmer narrative in the mind of masseven including the statements of Supreme Court comparing this gathering to TabligiJamaatcould not do anythingbut precautions and alerts must be followed until the war is going and focus must be concentred on the demands. Farmer demands are purely genuine and government could not answer any one question of the farmer.

Dr.Sikander Singh
Department of Punjabi
Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University
Fatehgarh Sahib.

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