Follow Us:

Overdose of labels

Editorial |

It was a good question, one that the government will not find easy to answer, that noted historian Romila Thapar asked when demanding a definition of “urban Naxal” ~ the latest label those wielding authority have begun to stick on anyone with the temerity to dissent with official thinking. Or, as critics, would insist, its terribly constricted thought process.

Like its penchant for acronyms, the ruling party opts to carpet-bomb liberal thought, possibly because targeted attack requires greater focus and intelligence. “We are all born Indians, lived as Indians all our lives. These activists (the five Left-leaning intellectuals now in the dock) are fighting for good causes and terming them urban Naxal is a political move” Thapar said to the media.

“First ask the government to define the term and then tell us how we fall into this category” she said, observing that people who used “urban Naxal” liberally never knew what the term meant. Yet the same could also hold true of other much-used BJP invective like ”Pakistani agent”, “anti-national”, “Ram zada and haram zada” etc. Much like in the days when our comrades wielded some clout they slammed others as “reactionary”, “revisionist’ and had their own jargon of negative description ~ much of which has faded from the memory like the comrades themselves.

Whether a hangover of her JNU days or otherwise, Nirmala Sitharaman is also playing the label-game. Her call to keep social media “toxic free” fits in with her party’s difficulty in comprehending that one man’s meat is another man’s poison (not all BJP activists are vegetarian, as M Venkairah Naidu would confirm), for there are many who insist that mind-poisoning is an element of the BJP’s divisive agenda.

At a seminar in the Capital the minister said she disagreed with the “warrior” or yoddhas tag for those propagating government programmes on social media: she preferred to label them “architects”. And explained, “architects do wonderful things to make our ambience, eco-system better.” Mrs Sitharaman said: “I understand that this country requires to move fast…the narrative per se should become intelligent and smart… we do not want the social media to have a toxic flow”.

Problem with these labels is that they are so very questionable. If “urban Naxal” has no acceptable definition, neither “has toxic”, and nor did “reactionary” etc. Slogans have played an exaggerated part in the political discourse. Garibi hatao, sabka sath sabka vikas and achche din have actually exposed non-performing governments.

Yes, there was a glorious exception ~ Jai Jawan Jai Kisan, but Shastri is a forgotten man, except perhaps on his birth anniversary which happens to coincide with the Mahatma’s. But why trouble the grey matter trying to determine between urban Naxal, toxic etc. It is so easy to understand “termite”, neech and “suit-boot sarkar”. Sheer buffoonery?