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The Dangerous Delusions of Bolitics

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By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer

India was not born 10 years ago, as some netas of the present Central Government would like us to believe. Long before the BJP came to power, India won her freedom from the British in a movement led by the Congress Party. But even before the Freedom Movement started there were people of the calibre of Ashok the Great, Chanakya, Akbar and many others. The narrow-minded bigots of the west coast might have their portraits installed in the corridors of power but that does not make them anything more than narrow-minded bigots. It is very sad, however, that people who should have the breadth of vision to look beyond the myopia of such fanatics continue to laud them. This attitude distorts their thinking to such an extent that they feel justified in making negative statements about 14.2% of Indian citizens.

We have brought out these points as a reality check of the attitude of many netas.  We believe that the unexpected reversal of the ruling dispensation can be attributed to such woolly-thinking.  It is clear that the setback experienced by the BJP is the direct result of the organisation’s refusal to see that there was no justification for their arrogance.  Such blind belief in one’s own ability is known as hubris.  Clearly, however, one senior neta of the far right had the courage to call a spade a spade.  According to a report in a national daily “Top RSS member Indresh Kumar on Thursday slammed the ruling BJP for arrogance.’’

One aspect of arrogance is its ability to live in an echo chamber. This attitude provides a constant and unreal ego massage, making the receiver of such amplified adulation believe that he or she has a divine right to rule. But beyond the confines of his or her controlled environment things may be radically different.

In today’s world of burgeoning “information technology’’ there is a whole new body of individuals bound together by the power unleashed by communications expert Sam Pitroda encouraged by his friend Rajiv Gandhi.  A person living in Kaniyakumari can dial his friend in the northeast in as much time as it takes to punch his friend’s code on a hand-held smart phone. This has created the phenomena of social media. We believe if a group of like-minded netas and babus who did such things as disqualifying Members of Parliament, rushing through Legislation and milking the obnoxious electoral bonds to achieve their ends, have met their match: the social media.

As of January 2024, 462 million people in India used social media, which is 32.2%of the country’s population. Social media is a form of mass media communication that allows users to create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. It’s about conversations, community, connecting with audiences and building relationships. In other words, it has created a casteless, ageless, gender neutral society of friends with a truly pan-Indian character. These people communicate more freely with each other than they would with probing reporters or pollsters. In all likelihood, they would resent questions about whom they voted for and why. This could explain why all the so-called Election Experts got it so horribly wrong.

While researching this article we were surprised to learn how deeply smart phones have penetrated into Indian society. On 16th November, 2022, Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Secretary Apurva Chandra said that India has over 1.2 billion mobile phones. The percentage of mobile phones in India was about 76.6 percent in financial year 2022.

Thus, it is clear that this was the unknown and unpredictable element in the last General Elections. It is, in other words, the true conscience keeper of the nation which cannot be bribed, bullied, or bamboozled.

Nevertheless the Government tried. Before the results were announced we were watching a popular TV channel and the very level headed Yogendra Yadav filled the screen predicting reverses for the BJP.  Suddenly, in mid-sentence, he was cut off, and a previous programme appeared. Big Brother was obviously unhappy. He was much unhappier when the results were announced.

The social media is the new powerful conscience keeper of the nation.

India was not born 10 years ago.  But it was certainly reincarnated into the social media age when IBM released the first Smart Phone into the market 30 years ago.

(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.) (The opinions and thoughts expressed here reflect only the authors’ views!).