15.11.13

Cuss words, youth power and wannabe leaders




We should see through the pretense and realise that the common man makes good business sense. The target audience is not the common man. It is the young. There has been too much emphasis on 'youth power' by all political parties, irrespective of who they are fielding as candidates. Everybody seems to be high on hormones.

All news channels I surfed last evening played the snippet of a man using cuss words to refer to our Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde. Standing next to him was a woman, Shazia Ilmi, a member of the National Executive of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). She wore the party cap as did quite a few in the audience. The man, Rajiv Laxman, is only a supporter. He hosts MTV Roadies, not a terribly aam aadmi show. Was he there to pump adrenalin?

The Congress has used intemperate language, the SP has done so, the BJP has made derogatory references, with its PM candidate leading from the front in the cuss campaign.

While there is most definitely a need to rein in what is broadly referred to as "hate speech", I find it hypocritical of some in the media to take a holier-than-thou position when swear words are used. For example, in the Times Now discussion, the host Arnab Goswami told Shazia Ilmi that she was on the show "only because of that", and they replayed the loop of the speech, with moralistic beeps of course, with the lady cheering on.

Is it not ironical that what is considered reprehensible becomes reason enough to get invited to such shows? Ms. Ilmi apologised several times and this was noted, as though the sainted host and the other sainted panelists were priests listening to a Confession and tacitly absolving her of the sin.

One can easily wager that this show got a good deal of mileage, and I confess that I did want to check out what the beeped-out words were. So, you can well imagine how enthralled the youth is. To suggest patronisingly that our youngsters are intelligent and can see through is not enough.

All political parties look for weaknesses, not strengths, in the electorate. That is the reason we have sops and vote banks. In the case of youth power, it is fairly scattered. It is quite safe to assume that beneath those Aam Aadmi caps are gelled hair. The same applies to the other parties. The Congress has stuck to the tested scions from old palaces, whose ground work means going abroad for social/environment/management studies to use in their fiefdoms. The SP has stayed with its caste/class ideas. The BJP has got a background team of Internet savvy people who hawk one leader, his every utterance, every rally, every meeting made to look like an event.

To use the cliché: what came first - chicken or egg? Has youth power pushed the political agenda or are the politicians playing the youth? Here, except for Rahul Gandhi, the Congress is sticking to its stodgy ways. The real danger comes from two wannabes — Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi. One a wannabe chief minister, the other a wannabe prime minister. They first 'appeal' to the youth with some charm, some lies, or at least half truth. They came across as knights — one selling transparency, the other development and growth. These are abstract, if not vague, ideas.

They appeal to the young who do not want responsibility. They crave for action, to see things bared open, for tall buildings, 3D communication. They want their politicians to be like smartphones.

Both these leaders have also used women well. A whole bunch of smart educated women are the front. This modernistic take is in fact quite regressive, for they primarily do a cheerleader act. There are some who appear regularly on panel discussions, but their role seems to be restricted to a cleanup job. They do not seem to have any ambitions for themselves.

One might well say that this applies to male party members as well. Not many will openly talk about posts they are eyeing or how far they wish to go. But the stridency of the women is in a different league, and includes supporters. This probably is to appeal to the female electorate and the youth at the same time. Let us not forget that patriarchy is not dead. It is being handed over as legacy in a covert manner. When the young watch these mother figures or sister figures fight the battle of neo-cult heroes, they just know that the baton is to be passed on to the last man standing.

A few cuss words don't dent the image. In fact, these are words the young use in the open arenas where they can anonymously abuse anyone, take on the powers that oppose their new ideological hero. They don't even realise that what they are supporting probably goes against their lifestyle or the very principles on which this country stands.

It is this lack of introspection that gives politicians a carte blanche to tap into such youth power. It is also called brainwashing.

© Farzana Versey

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Image: Cartoonstock

14 comments:

  1. FV, no surprise that political parties are trying to "woo youth power" -- demographics has shown a massive increase in 20 years olds who were not of voting age in the 2009 election -- this new group of voters have the ability to rubbish all the predictions by the pundits. We might sneer at their bad language and loutishness but it does not reduce their ability to change who gets voted into power. Inevitable change and all that.
    -Al

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  2. "They came across as knights — one selling transparency, the other development and growth. These are abstract, if not vague, ideas. "

    FV, I believe you have that wrong. "development and growth" in the Indian context is getting water from your tap, electricity 24/7 and access to basic necessities -- i.e., better quality of life for the average person who is not very well off, even if that entire class is derided as "middle class" for some reason.

    It is another matter that Indians seem to think development and growth are vague ideas, thanks to decades of a debilitating state-controlled economy that only rewards the government's cronies in Industry in exchange for election funds and special treatment. Ambani, Birla, Tata,...all of them beneficiaries of a state controlled economy that ensured they had no competition in the market, so that they would have enough to provide for election funds. Nothing wrong with this except for the part where the state snuffs out the competition in business using its bureaucracy and confusing rules and regulations that can be used as a double-edged sword for friends and foes of the State. Bureaucrats and IAS officers send their entire clan abroad and have a grip on all politics too...even the current Indian prime minister is a bureaucrat who has never won an election.

    Data does not lie for the most part when analyzed right and dispassionately, but lying about data for political reasons comes its own consequences...like all things. "development and growth" is the perception of things getting better in quality of life for the average person on the ground -- they are definitely not vague concepts.



    -Al

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  3. Al:

    The problem is not the language, but the subtext of what it stands for. Indeed, the young voter can swing the vote and therefore becomes a huge vote bank.

    The responsibility of a vote should be more than about rubbishing what the pundits say. Pundits have been proved wrong by other categories too.

    Change comes about also for reasons like anti-incumbency, or good old rigging. Let us just say we are a young democracy even today!

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  4. FV:"Change comes about also for reasons like anti-incumbency, or good old rigging. Let us just say we are a young democracy even today!"

    FV, I just mentioned them political pundits because that is one class of people that gets to write all the nonsense they want, and disavow their own work once proven wrong by reality...not that this stops them from espousing further "punditry" by reading fish entrails and tea leaves. Abominable profession that attracts the abominations in society....

    Vote stealing may not be as easy as it used to be during the days when ballot boxes could be replaced after elections -- EVMs have made rigging a lot more difficult...one would have to bribe the entire machinery in charge of voting machines to steal votes. Not that such things have not been tried -- the DMK govt. in TN did exactly that to come to power the last time around...they couldn't repeat the feat though.

    "Let us just say we are a young democracy even today!"

    Yes, a "young democracy" much like Zimbabwe, if you ask me (and nobody does)...political thugs override the constitution on a whim and political parties have overwheming influence and control of the national economy at all times....even when the national economy is a basketcase for the most part. Hopefully, India will outgrow these teenage angst years one of these coming centuries. I am holding my breath until it happens.

    -Al

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  5. FV:"The problem is not the language, but the subtext of what it stands for. "

    The subtext I can perceive, mostly from apolitical youth with a day job, is based on economics and quality of life, more than other sundry matters involving religion/caste/etc.

    I am not downplaying other damaging undercurrents...but all of that mostly seems like a side-effect of increasing competition for scarce resources at all levels. There is no happy ending to such things usually. Stealing someone else's lunch without their permission is considered "social justice" in India, so it remains to be seen how all this will spin out if the resource crunch gets even worse.

    -Al

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  6. FV:"The responsibility of a vote should be more than about rubbishing what the pundits say. "

    FV, of course, the sticky point here is that in a free country is that "Responsibility" is all relative -- what is considered "irresponsible" by followers of one political party is usually considered "responsible" by their political opponents. In the end, political parties buying out the voter with freebies can only work as long as the voter is not sufficiently aware as to the ill consequences of taking such bribes from political parties for their votes.

    Political pundit opinions can be easily predicted based on the political party that they are biased towards, so it is more of advertising than analysis for the most part.
    -Al

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  7. FV, Clearly you believe the sycophants and crooks associated with the ruling party is less of a danger to India than the new entrants to the scene. Usually, ossified politicial structures are as much as danger to a democracy as new political movements that get popular very fast. Election campaigning requires a lot of money, and given the archaic laws that govern how elections are funded in India -- it is no surprise that the unknown funding sources for the national parties are not being probed, but those of the less powerful political parties are...and nobody seems to think there is anything wrong with this picture. Just incredible, really. India's largest foreign investments come from Mauritius, which coincidentally has loose tax laws that enable the very rich in India to escape taxation, and all of this is being done in the open. Amuses me that the cacophonic pubic political discourse that thinks it is too clever by half cannot see the overt criminal tax evasion...because it is all politics. "My criminal is better than your criminal" seems to be the overall sentiment.
    cheers,
    Al
    PS: noted in my little purple book not to rag on crony capitalists and the omnipresent socialist state that mollycoddles them. :)

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  8. FV,

    QUOTE: "Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi... They first 'appeal' to the youth with some charm, some lies..."

    Good to see you acknowledging that the One Who Must Not Be Praised possesses some charm too. This is no less than a tectonic shift in sekulaar narrative! But I guess it was only waiting to happen. Twelve years is an enormously long time, though shorter than twenty-nine years.

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    QUOTE: "They (i.e. the youth) don't even realise that what they are supporting probably goes against their lifestyle or the very principles on which this country stands."

    Such ignorant fools, the youth of India. Why can't they simply ask the sekulaars who to vote for? :)

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    QUOTE: "The problem is not the language, but the subtext of what it stands for."

    Exactly my point. See we agree! :) :)

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  9. F&F:

    {Good to see you acknowledging that the One Who Must Not Be Praised possesses some charm too. This is no less than a tectonic shift in sekulaar narrative!}

    I see that 12 years has not managed to ease your spellchecker! I also notice that the 'other' narrative only spots one quality. I said charm and lies. No problem. Some lies can be so charming...

    {Such ignorant fools, the youth of India. Why can't they simply ask the sekulaars who to vote for? :)}

    Sarcasm noted. Point is some parties selling ancient culture are already telling them who to vote for. 

    {QUOTE: "The problem is not the language, but the subtext of what it stands for."

    Exactly my point. See we agree! :) :) }

    What if I say it is also called secularism?

    PS: Quite happy to see Al and you kind of on the same page...

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  10. Al:

    By rigging I meant any sort of pressure tactics. 

    {Hopefully, India will outgrow these teenage angst years one of these coming centuries.}

    And yet, you are willing to bet on teens out in the streets airing their angst...

    {The subtext I can perceive, mostly from apolitical youth with a day job, is based on economics and quality of life, more than other sundry matters involving religion/caste/etc.}

    I wasn't talking about apolitical youth, for whom these concerns have always been there. This is about the emphasis on a certain kind of self-righteousness (punk punditry, if I may) that these young people are being 'empowered' with by canny politicians. 

    {FV, Clearly you believe the sycophants and crooks associated with the ruling party is less of a danger to India than the new entrants to the scene. Usually, ossified politicial structures are as much as danger to a democracy as new political movements that get popular very fast.}

    Rubbish. I do not support the old order. But I do not believe that in the rush to find an alternative we just fall headlong into any movement. I assume you are referring to the AAP. It started with the Anna Movement, which was backed by celebrity power. 

    Sure, big parties have such supporters too. However, to accept that new entrants will by default be better is not pragmatic. In many ways, the older parties are fielding people who are new too, and we do pull them up for callowness. Don't see why the kid gloves for the newbies. 

    PS: Some crony capitalists are supporting the 'young blood' and talking about socialist principles without quite uttering the word. Wanna update that purple book :-)

    PPS: I like adding your views, and am more than happy to share them with readers, some of who love them a lot, indeed. But, since I have had my say pretty much in the post, I will not always be able to give detailed replies. (What coloured book do you have for such notes!!)

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  11. FV, Don't mean to distract from your posts. Just jawing really. I don't have much to say usually, probably for good reason (I usually plead insanity when people throw my opinions back at me). Just getting down from my internet lurkmobile now and then for some chit-chat and annoy a few people here and there.

    cheers,
    -Al
    PS: See, all the other books come with semantic baggage -- red book (taken) green book (taken) black book (taken), blue book (taken), and hence purple book.

    PS:
    " Some crony capitalists are supporting the 'young blood' and talking about socialist principles without quite uttering the word. Wanna update that purple book :-)"

    But of course, I did not say that crony capitalism was just the strong point of the ruling party -- crony capitalists have enough money to support all parties at the same time. Problem I see with the above approach is that the "young blood" better get satisfied with their life before their blood ages -- if, after all these promises, current and future governments fail to provide quality of life to them, I suspect there will be a revolution some day, and that usually does no good for anyone. I don't really like politics mostly because it is just boring and same thing over and over again in different contexts with different actors. Life's too short, no?

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  12. "And yet, you are willing to bet on teens out in the streets airing their angst..."

    FV, Oh, the horror to think that you think so! The most I am willing to bet is that these teenage hordes have the ability to change the game in some random direction, and that does not mean the new direction will be any better than the old, could be even worse. Personally I wouldn't trust any teenager to take care of my pet plants for a weekend, to put it mildly.

    -Al

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  13. Al:

    I did not at all imply you were distracting from the posts/subject. When that has happend by anyone, I've been direct. I may not agree with you on many points here, but your views are relevant and probably have more takers!

    My comment was to merely inform about my tardiness and inability to take this further without repetition. So, go forth and conquer...But don't make it a revolution. We both agree that we don't like 'em at random.

    PS: You have pet plants? How posh is that!

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  14. FV: "You have pet plants? How posh is that!"

    FV, that's nothing. You should see them roll over and fetch when I order them to. I keep them on a leash when they get a little a frisky.
    -Al

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