^^ The Chindu still seems dazed from the election results and prints out more garbage. Some kind oul could try and explain what this article tried to convey since couldnt make head or tail of it:The hologram becomes the face
With the ascension of Narendra Damodardas Modi to the prime ministership of India, Indian politics also enters, both literally and metaphorically, into the Age of Hologram. One may choose to call it as the Age of Shadows. After all, Mr. Modi did not only address a record 437 public rallies, but also appeared as a hologram, often simultaneously, in 1350 3D rallies. This near flesh and blood avatar of Mr. Modi disturbs the distinction between reality and illusion, and light and shadow.
What is dangerous in this trend of politics is a certain hollowing out of its inner content; politics as genuine and democratic face-to-face deliberation among people about substantive issues that confront a society being replaced by politics as hologram — 3D images projected from studios in the nerve centres of power to the nukkads and mohallas of the vast hinterland where the poor and the unwashed live — and politics of the messiah.
Of course, in the age of mass media, or what the thinker Jean Baudrillard refers to as the ‘era of simulation’, all forms of technological communication tools will surely be used in political communication. Politics conducted across a vast geographical space cannot only remain face-to-face. Even when it does, it acquires the form of chai pe charcha conducted through video conferencing.
But the danger is in the medium itself becoming the message and the hologram itself becoming the face. That is why, in numerous reports, the voter does not even know the name of the local candidate, but casts his vote for one Narendra Modi. That is why on May 15, on the eve of the counting of votes, in Lucknow, a subaltern man who voted for Samajwadi Party in the last elections, tells me, ‘on this date, there is no leader in the world taller than Narendra Modi.’ The local, rather than being in a democratic dialogue with the national, melts away to be replaced by the distant national.
In the age of instantaneity, or what the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman calls ‘liquid modernity’, the solid bonds of human relationships, whether in terms of family, friendship or collective political projects collapse or erode towards a fleeting, transient, and liquid state where everything melts in a second and everything becomes mobile and fluid. This is the most ideal condition for power and capital to solidify itself, which gets concentrated in fewer hands, ironically, by becoming mobile and fluid themselves (thus global financial and speculative capital knows no borders, it reaches every nook and cranny of the globe, wreaking havoc in its wake) and by exploiting the fragmentation and disarray of the forces resisting them. Here ethics, political or otherwise, has the shelf life of tweets, Facebook status updates, and SMSes.
In this scenario when politics does talk about ethics, it can assume pathological shapes and result in fascist forms — of course, fascism in the age of democracy will be one without gas chambers. Under it exclusions and silencing will been forced more ‘democratically’ than violently (thus, for example, large sections of the powerful media will abandon their commitment to truth and justice and instead wilfully participate in creating electoral ‘waves’). And in conditions of flux and fragmentation, who better to govern a vast and diverse society than an authoritarian figure who can singlehandedly deliver ‘stability,’ ‘governance’ and ‘development’ (the mantra of our times) and combine a heady majoritarian nationalism with it. Why bother with the local MP who is merely a number that makes up the mandate?
Politics as hologram is dangerous not only because it lends itself to fascist mobilisation and that it can change the destiny of 6,00,000 villages in the course of a mere six-month campaign but also because holograms are not just apparitions, there are real material conditions which produce them. But when the ‘people’ have given their verdict (as one newspaper called it ‘India is Modi. Modi is India’), it seems undemocratic and illegitimate and to ask about the source of the Rs.5000 crore (1/5th of the annual amount allocated for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) reportedly spent on the BJP election campaign. And it seems equally undemocratic to talk about the shocking absence of Muslims from the elected MPs of the BJP. This is where fascist politics becomes consensual.
Even as this is the case, we cannot resist politics as hologram by dubbing the Modi mandate as ‘the most unpopular and unrepresentative in republican India’, or ‘the biggest stolen election in the history of democracy’, or ‘the biggest corporate heist in history’ as some radical critics have done. Sure, only 31 per cent of the voters (21 per cent of the total electorate) voted for the BJP, making it the smallest vote share among single parties which have won majorities in India. Sure, the vote and seat share of the regional parties have not changed at all making it still a fractured mandate raising questions about the need for proportional representation. And, sure, the ‘Modi wave’ would not have been possible without the unprecedented and unabashed support of corporate capitalism.
Nevertheless, reading the mandate in this fashion is simplistic. It discounts the 31 per cent who voted for the BJP and the very significant rise in BJP’s vote share in states like Assam, West Bengal, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh and J & K as inconsequential. By merely looking at the numbers who voted for Mr. Modi, it ignores the numbers who give silent assent to his brand of politics, even when they vote for other parties or not vote at all; it ignores the numbers that are sitting on the fence waiting to be bedazzled by holograms; it ignores states like Kerala which has never elected a BJP MP or MLA, but has the highest number of RSS shakhas in the country; and it ignores phenomena like Mr. Modi’s Facebook page being the fastest growing one among political personalities in the world.
The greatest tragedy of Indian democracy is that it has largely been reduced to the exercise of elections instead of building vibrant struggles for democratisation across the societal spectrum, in the economy, in culture and in civil society. That is why, for instance, the searing material deprivation of vast sections of the people, even after six decades of freedom, has elevated terms like development to a life-or-death cadence. Thus ‘secular’ parties themselves, by abrogating their responsibilities, have laid the foundation for fascist mode of politics. And fascism, when countered only through elections becomes hydra-headed. Baudrillard had argued that in the age of mass media simulation, ‘there is more and more information and less and less meaning’. But the time has come to change that. It is upon us to find the true meanings behind the holograms. It is upon us to bring back politics to reality. And it is upon us, not a messiah, to liberate ourselves from the cave and see beyond shadows.