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Perception Threat

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Going by the comments of numerous Indians – leaders in various fields, including politics – the purpose of any endeavour in the country is to win the approval of Western society. If this were not the case, such great credence would not be given to the opinions of countless foundations, universities, agencies, surveys, etc., that rank India on various parameters. Anybody who knows anything about the country should know it is not a homogenous entity that can be so easily slotted in various categories. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration even to say that it exists simultaneously in various periods of time and to gain any in-depth knowledge of it would require Buddha like enlightenment.

With the spread of social media and other means of information dissemination, a number of foreign interests are finding it easier to spread propaganda that suits their agenda. This is not to say that a large number of such sources of information are not authentic or sincere but, unfortunately, they provide credibility to the others that have hidden agendas. In fact, many of these organisations are financed and run by intelligence agencies, hostile religious bodies, corporations, etc. With the large Diaspora to tap into, they can often project their slanted views as ‘Indian voices’. Close examination of these ‘surveys’ and ‘findings’ has often revealed their superficial nature and lack of trustworthiness. It becomes worse when this misinformation begins to feed on itself, with Indians quoting them and this, in turn, being presented onwards as their opinion.

Considering the allegations made in the US and several other developed countries about several online platforms deliberately seeking to influence elections, would it be so hard to believe that India is not also a target? Sadly, the highly polarised academic community in India uses this fake information for its agendas rather than promoting an objective environment that vets information before giving it currency. Despite their supposed command over Information Technology, Indians have, thus far, been unable to pay back in kind. Faced with verdicts like ‘rape capital’, ‘flawed democracy’, ‘intolerant’, ‘high level of corruption’, ‘patriarchal’, and so on, Indians should also use their reach to undertake ‘surveys’ and ‘studies’ that similarly exaggerate the flaws in other societies. International awards should also be presented that include a good mix of trouble-makers as recipients. If the battle of perception is not fought with the required sophistication at this level, there is no point in just building up the Armed Forces, as the attack is on India’s morale and self-confidence.