Anuj Wankhede

The Central government is outsourcing the task of checking and influencing the mental health of anti-nuclear protesters to the  Bangalore based National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Studies (NIMHANS).

Protesting groups should warmly welcome this news for at least two reasons.

1) The Government admits that “real people,” not morons, are protesting and that these people can be adversely affected by its brain washing. 
In short, it indirectly admits that these people actually “have” brains.

2) That this premier institute can do a job that has not yet been accomplished with torment, state terror and unilateralism since all previous dirty tactics have failed to make any discernible difference to the mental resolve of the Indian people.

I wonder whether the Indian government is trying to emulate Alexander the Great, Hitler or the Chinese militia by getting into PSYOPS, psychological operations used to induce or reinforce behavior favorable to state objectives. . These were masters of the game and quite successful for some time. The problem is that this government does not learn from other countries experiences. They take bites of something from somewhere, and apply that little knowledge in bits and pieces with an objective of making a masterpiece. In the process, they fail so miserably that you almost pity the Government. 
They look like a bunch of jokers suddenly discovering that the joke is on them! Embarrassing.

Well, these are such grim times economically, with the country reeling under hyper inflation, that a good dose of government induced comedy would be welcomed by everyone. Humour definitely takes the stress out of daily life. That much we know for sure by experience.
 It is interesting to take a look at the Indian government’s expensive and repeated efforts in shaping public opinion.
They forced people to watch pathetic “documentaries” in cinema theatres. So utterly pathetic were these films that the whole organization – Films Division – is practically closed down – after spending decades of efforts and tons of cash. 
Another white elephant is the DAVP (Dept of Audio Video Publicity). Their production quality of print and radio advertisements is so horrible that second grade kids make better posters at a drawing exhibition.
 Government’s efforts to dominate television have also yielded equally pathetic returns. Its flagship Doordarshan basket of channels is fondly termed as Dukhdarshan (sad viewing). The programming, presentation and anchors seem to be in a time warp. Sensible people prefer to watch umpteen reruns of 1970s M*A*S*H than any current program on these channels. The Doordarshan channels are Free to Air unlike most other private say channels. Even this carrot of “free” does not entice viewers, a fact borne out the TRP numbers. To claim that the channel is doing “public service” programming is ridiculous when you consider that there is NO public watching it! Even when they get opportunities to telecast live sports, they make a hash of things with unbearable commentary and advertising that extends into the “Live” action! The moment the sporting event is over, this forced audience makes a dash for the remote for changing channels.

Now that the government has decided to sort out the mental health of Indians, it could extend the services of NIMHANS to some of its own party people and partners. For long people have been questioning the mental health of senior party leaders who talk absolute rubbish on national television without even realizing that they are buffoons personified. So when they see things on the Internet that hurt them, they think they can take down the whole World Wide Web with censorship. These Central Ministers have no clue about the ways and means of getting around its censorship. If they would spend some time with their children at home, they would learn tons of lessons from their own kids on proxies and bypassing firewalls and getting information.

The government’s mortal fear of knowledgeable and informed citizens is well known. What these mentally challenged senior ministers don’t realize is that the world order has changed. Information has empowered people. People don’t fall for propaganda like they did in the times of Alexander and Hitler when there was a single source of (dis)information.. Now, people check, cross check, verify, watch videos, interact online with experts around the world and network together. Then and only then do people make decisions and these decisions are deeply “informed.”

The government opens its mouth only to put its foot into it. So frequently does it end up issuing ‘clarifications,’ ‘denials,’ ‘quoted out of context,’ ‘lack of communication,’ ‘misunderstood’ and other sundry excuses to backtrack its own official statements that people no longer believe “anything” which the government officially states.

Their attempts at using social media for public information (read propaganda) are a joke in itself with late, inaccurate and inane flashes of news. An unofficial parody Twitter account of the PM’s office does a hugely better job!
The Indian government is patting its own back claiming success in Kashmir and thinking they won back the locals and extremists with “communication” (and a healthy dose of repression). My theory is quite the reverse. It is very much possible the people of Kashmir got proper information of their neighbours real state of affairs through the internet. And when they looked at the sorry state of affairs in those countries, they decided that India is a less evil place than those only because a known devil is better than an unknown one. To claim that North East militancy is down is another figment of the government’s imagination. What has been communicated to the youth there? That allowing Irom Sharmila to fast for ELEVEN YEARS is the sign of great mental health? It is a sign of delusion and a complete lack of ground level understanding.

People also read much more and follow news in real time. They don’t have the inclination to be taken in by the “paid” media. Rather, they seek information from special interest groups, blogs and websites run by industry veterans. Insiders who once worked for governments and industries are raising informed debates after realizing their earlier mistakes. People get their information from multiple and independent sources. These online sources simply cannot spread misinformation because then the retribution comes almost immediately from the readers. Hence, any attempts to use these PSYOPs are bound to be still-born as such tactics have always banked on either slanted facts, partial truth or pure lies. None of these have a place in the digital age.

People can simply calculate the costs of various forms of energy per unit, check the safety claims of the government, check cost over runs, compare the time to set up nuclear projects vs renewable projects, see the continuing horrors at reactors 1-4 at Fukushima, witness the miseries of those who have been evacuated, contemplate Chernobyl’s ‘dead zone’ condition even after over 25 years and THEN decide what they want. If after all this, someone still makes a pro-nuclear case, his/her mental health definitely needs the expertise of NIMHANS. Anyway, the government and its leaders don’t not rely too much on its own institutes, preferring to go abroad for treating their secret illnesses while simultaneously conducting business there.

The NIMHANS experiment will do accomplish what the anti-nuclear groups have not yet been able to achieve. Involvement of government will immediately force skeptics and fence sitters to verify what the official statements mean. And once they actually check things out, they will become committed anti-nuclear advocates. While at the experiment, the mental health doctors could also study the reasons for increased suicide rates, dangerously high levels of depression, divorce and assaults among the population. They could search for correlations between these reasons and the income inequality post “liberalization” of the Indian economy since 1990 by our fond leader Dr. Man’moan’ Singh. They could also search the brain of another civil servant who goes by the name of Montek and who challenges the nation’s tolerance with ridiculous poverty levels that go lower and lower each year! It is not that the latter is mad, he is after all just changing the goal post to make the poor disappear from government stats. But his crass and inhuman manner of doing this noble (sic) task deserves investigation by mental health experts.
Indeed, it would be apropos if the government’s own mind undergoes a thorough ‘routine’ check up. For this government expects us to believe that a nuclear bomb makes India a safe place. What safety? You bomb your neighbour and you yourself will be under a radiation cloud. That’s safety? That sure speaks volumes about the mental health of career bureaucrats and illiterate politicians. To own a nuke bomb is easy. Who will have the guts to use it? Hell, they don’t even have the guts to hang a terrorist caught on camera killing innocent citizens! To which these wily people will say nuclear weapons is a “deterrent.” Another blatant lie exposed by the fact that almost immediately after the last nuclear test, Pakistan launched the Kargil war resulting in huge casualties for the armed forces. And what’s worse, even there, the coffin scam happened. So whose mental health needs a checkup?

This government wants to promote nuclear power because of increased and perceived demand supply mismatch while dimwits in the ministry take miniscule steps to minimize electricity wastage or disconnect power to defaulting industries, resulting in power shortages for farmers and ordinary people. Everyone knows that when you don’t have money in the pocket, you cut down on demands – not increase demands. That does not fill pockets. But whether it is electricity or government spending, the establishment takes curiously insane decisions while calling others crazy.

So be it. As I said earlier, this PSYOP will certainly benefit the anti-nuclear lobby far more than what the government expects.
 Thank God for small mercies.