This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Munawar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

With His Scathing Propaganda, BJP’s Sambit Patra Is A Modern-Day Joseph Goebbels

More from Munawar

Genesis of Propaganda

After the First World War, tobacco use among men soared quantumly as cigarettes were officially included in the ration of soldiers. Being a witness to this development, the anxious president of American Tobacco Company, George Washington Hill invoked his opportunistic self and requested one of the famous propagandists of the 20th century to integrate women in this growing market. Until now, cigarette smoking among women was considered as immoral, and the act of doing it invited harsh punishment both from the state and the society.

It was the crafty mind of Edward Bernays, father of modern Public Relations that skillfully linked women empowerment and feminism to cigarette smoking. Though Washington Hill never advocated feminism, he simply wanted to expand his circle of business. On March 31, 1929, Bernays launched a coordinated campaign to forever change this paradigm. His secretary, Bertha Hunt, stepped out into the crowded fifth avenue and created a scandal by lighting a Lucky Strike cigarette. It had never happened before. The event dubbed as ‘Torches of Freedom’, not only influenced the immediate ambience but became a national headline as Bernays had already informed the press and created appropriate pamphlets and leaflets for its mass acceptance.

The next day, The New York Times, ran the headline “Group of Girls Puff at Cigarettes as a Gesture of Freedom”. This propagandistic phenomenon used the techniques like: appeal to authority, appeal to prejudice, bandwagon, euphoria, join the crowd, operant conditioning, and cult of personality. Subsequently, it engineered and crystallised the public opinion by setting an agenda and dictating people what to think about, not necessarily coincidental to their demands. And thus began the new phase of mass manipulation of minds.

The use of propaganda to influence public opinion and generate acceptance, conformity is as old as man itself. In the 17th century, Pope Gregory the XV used religious propaganda for the propagation of the faith. Its function was to defend Catholicism against the protestant reformation.

In modern times, propaganda is seen as synonymous with half-truth, selective perception or falsehood. Contrary to this belief many experts hail the power of propaganda in altering the behavioural predilections at the mass level. For instance, propaganda techniques like fear have been used to limit the road accidents, ill effects of tobacco products and alcohol consumption on health, demerits of dictatorship and so on.

But again, it all depends on the universal rule that governs every single phenomenon in this universe: nothing is good or bad, but its usage makes it so. A safely guarded Atom Bomb doesn’t concern any of us, but its use in Nagasaki and Hiroshima killed thousands of humans. The intention of human being, which is central to every event, can either give a bad or good image to any phenomenon. As it turns out, propaganda has been disproportionately employed by dictators, demo-dictators, feudal, fascists, and despots to further their agenda and derive political, social, economic, and religious benefits. The underlying principle of propaganda is to control the minds. As the notorious dictator of former USSR, Joseph Stalin once said,Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas.” So, controlling a person is to control his ideas.

Relevantly, because of the growing dissatisfaction and horrifying consequences of WWI and WWII, new techniques were invented to control the minds, as firing bullets and dropping bombs only ended up in economic devastation and more political resistance. It was this era of human civilization that gave more preference to soft and smart power rather than hard military power. The famous propagandist of the 20th century, Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany, launched a scathing stereotyping campaign against Jews and managed to engineer consent among countless Germans, who without even giving it a second thought, murdered Jews and looted their belongings and justified their anti-Semitism.

Goebbels was an exceptional writer and his master Adolf Hitler was a great orator, together they propagandised and normalised the murder of approximately 6 million Jews. This could have never been committed had non-Jew population been not manipulated and their ideas being hacked. Goebbels instituted the propaganda techniques like a big lie, Ad nauseam, demonisation of the enemy, legitimisation of violence, name-calling, scapegoating, and stereotyping. His famous quote is still relevant today, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”  ~ Noam Chomsky

The Indian Context

In contemporary times, use of propaganda is at its zenith. There are organised and professional sectors which literally sell propaganda tactics in order to help despotic governments to continue mass exploitation. Absolute falsehood is no longer used to engineer consent but its selective and obfuscated use together with grains of condiments representing truth are being served to the uneducated or for that matter gullible public, who either unintentionally or ignorantly continue to support the despots. And worse, it manipulates individuals to convince them that the idea or action they adopted was one they chose through their own personal volition.

In a democracy, the right to vote is considered as the most powerful weapon. With this right, a community can dethrone a person accused of despotism or incapacity. But, is this so simple? What about the complicated and labyrinthine procedure of removing him? What if he re-launches himself in the next election and uses propaganda to tide the wave towards himself? What about the gullible public, which stands true in the Indian context, would they be able to master his propagandistic tactics? Here, does democracy seem to be the foolproof way of ruling? I am not against the democracy, and there seems no alternative to it, but aren’t there serious defects with it, especially in the Indian context.

During 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign, Narendra Modi and RSS-affiliated political wing, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) employed mass advertising campaign to sway the public opinion. Not only this, the members of BJP used Brahmanical, Hindutva, anti-Muslim, anti-Dalit, and anti-Women rhetoric to garner mass support. And it was all orchestrated under the belly of propaganda. Mass use of disinformation, plain folks, ad hominem and many other propaganda techniques in newspapers, Television sets, rallies, religious platforms and through the digital universe in the name of Advertisement funded programs (AFP) have a significant role in altering the public opinion.

As of 2019 elections are near the corner, BJP’s IT cell has become active. People who have Anti-establishment views or opinionate their criticism against the incumbent central government’s policies are being maliciously targeted. This organised hate campaign on social media is an archetype of propagandistic phenomenon where the opponents are delegitimised and subsequently their views obfuscated by a barrage of lies. Recently, two critically acclaimed journalists, Rana Ayub and Ravish Kumar, who have been rigorously criticising the communal politics of BJP, were horrifyingly attacked. Reportedly, many of the ‘trolls’ are being followed by Union Minister Piyush Goyal and Narendra Modi.

A situation like this is dangerous for the freedom of expression and the right to dissent. Feedback or for that matter constructive criticism of government policies is very crucial for the growth of democracy. But, BJP’s authoritarian and condescending way of political operations has the least respect for these rights. Furthermore, BJP spokespersons like Sambit Patra – whom I consider the ‘modern Joseph Goebbels’ and who was awarded the portfolio of ONGC director – despite having an MBBS degree -for his amazing propagandistic abilities, is on the rampage. I have watched, analysed, researched his dozen of debates. And I can’t find a single event where he has given a straightforward answer to any genuine question. His ability to twist the answers with chop-logic, Ad hominem (attacking opponents rather than their ideas or principles), Ad nauseam, cognitive dissonance and many other propaganda techniques have surely earned him a great degree of material benefits inside the party, but people have started to decode his propagandistic instinct.

Here is the link to a well-researched video by Kumar Shyam. It surely decodes the ability of Sambit Patra to manipulate the minds.

Propaganda or fake news is the most challenging issue a democracy faces today. Efforts should be made to delimit its influence on the general public who want development and not Hindu-Muslim debates, which are aimed to brainwash them, exploit their emotional and religious vulnerabilities and consequently instigate one against other to slit throats and pave the way for fascists.

You must be to comment.

More from Munawar

Similar Posts

By Ritwik Trivedi

By Atul Upadhyay

By Tanvi sharma

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below