PR virus hits Media

By Prabhakar Timble
13 February 2013 10:50 IST

Unlike the past, the world of the present is guided by images, perceptions, and promotions. Today, marketing plays a key role not only in influencing consumer decisions but also in shaping politics and public opinion. Selling campaigns can sell even the unsaleable and what is of utility and immense value could pile up to be dumped in a corner. This wonder created by advertising in the field of production, consumption and distribution could get extended to facts and truth. Hammer lies and falsehood through a publicity blitz and drive the truth out of the system, thereby creating a public opinion that what is actually untrue are the real facts.

PR decides prime time content

Today, the power of giant event management and PR firms decide the prime time agenda and priorities of the electronic media. This immediately percolates to the print media. After the massive bombardment on the corrupt rather than corruption; the rapists rather than atrocities on the female gender and the complete painting of the political class as black and discredited, the PR firms have found commerce in the 2014 general elections. Like the age old tenet of the early bird catching the worm it looks that the issues in the media are delicately guided by PR firms hired by political parties and interests and even the events are created by these firms to feed the media. As a result, Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi takes centre stage over all other issues and the complementary highlights are thrown on Hindutva, development models and the relevance or irrelevance of secularism. Intermittently, the cameras and talk shows move to corruption with care to project Congress corruption overshadowing the same by other political parties.

As a result, we cannot expect much from the media for the next twelve months. It would be the endeavour of the media to keep the sponsored politicians in public gaze and create an aura around them through accolades with some sprinklings of  criticism with the objective of bringing credibility to the awards and praises.  The budgets of PR firms and event management corporates will determine the bouquets and brickbats to public figures and public issues. Hence, we find that even an issue of the execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru crawls from terrorism stealthily to questioning secularism. To shoot down Nehru and Gandhi; the values of non-alignment, ‘ahimsa’, secularism and tolerance receive the bashing.

No more Gandhi’s India 

 A lot has been written on the relevance or irrelevance of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and I do not intend to make this as another straw on the camel’s back. Gandhi may not be of relevance today in terms of the economic model which he envisaged for the India of his dreams. Economic philosophy may not stand out in view of liberalisation and globalisation and growing reliance on private sector for social good. However, to reach out to the marginalised and the sea of millions in the informal sector, Gandhi seems to be the only relevant philosophy and approach. Social movements, human rights activists and the struggles of the underprivileged continue to draw confidence and inspiration from the life and preaching of the Mahatma. Without Gandhi our hearts would turn of stone and without Nehru it would not be possible for us to discover India from our bedrooms.

Probably, it is difficult to find people closer to the Gandhian way of life who could be role models. Anyone claiming to be under the influence of Gandhi would invite criticism for the attempt to commit the crime of polluting and misrepresenting Gandhi. A serious follower would summon ridicule. Despite our contradictions and estrangement from Gandhian principles, this Saint continues to be an inseparable part when it comes to dealing with failures, disharmony and intolerance. It is another contradiction that for the atheists and the agnostics in search of a Prophet to pardon their sins and provide hope in suffering, Gandhi is the choice for such millions in the world. Gandhi was human and hence palatable to the non-believers and a scientific mind. Nobody needs a middleman to reach Gandhi. I have reaped high dividends from the conviction that the easiest way to guard the individual freedom of speech and expression is by keeping the needs simple and minimum. I have also learnt that developing tolerance to problems brings peace and happiness to the self and the community around.

Gujarat, the birth place of the Mahatma is no longer associated with Gandhi. Today, it is the state of Narendra Modi and investors. In fact, there is relentless effort to erase his memory and destroy the image. The patriots and nationalists as they call themselves leave no opportunity to discredit Gandhi and hold him responsible for the birth of two nations and the consequent tensions facing both the nations even today. The Congress party uses him as a currency during elections. He is the guardian and saint for the depressed and exploited in this unequal and competitive society. Any non-violent struggle of the masses gets nourishment from Gandhi. The relevance of Gandhi lies in the standing that his teachings and life provides to the otherwise silent majority in India and the marginalised sections of the world to stay vocal and assert their right to be heard.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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