Two plus two equals five

Sometime in the middle of 2013, there was a renewed interest in this book titled Nineteen Eighty Four written by George Orwell. It was all thanks to Edward Snowden who revealed to the world top secret information from NSA – about the extent of surveillance cast over by the US Intelligence Agencies across the globe and snooping into the everyday conversations of millions of internet users.

Nineteen Eighty Four is a political satire based on a hypothetical dystopian state where every movement of the citizens of a fictional state of Oceania is tracked by the State. There exists a Thought Police who used to track the very thoughts of the citizens and report back if anyone is even thinking against the state. The analogy between NSA’s surveillance and Thought Police of Oceania seemed convincing and there was a soaring interest in the book and the prophetic ability of Orwellian thought. Though Orwell had the Soviet State in mind while writing the book, he would probably have never thought it would be applicable to an ostensibly liberal state like the US.

Nor would Orwell have thought that the very country where he was born would set the stage for another classic parallel to Nineteen Eighty Four. It’s only election time in India. We still do not know what the next Government will look like. But there are claims that ‘Safed Dadi-Kali Dadi’ combo (Modi-Shah) will rule India.

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The good cop-bad cop duos of Hindutva. Vajpayee-Advani in ‘90s, Advani-Modi in ‘00s and now Modi-Shah. Image Credits: Alexei Petrov

The Modi-Shah combination that BJP has come up with is a key card they have always played. This is the classic good cop-bad cop strategy adopted by the police in intimidation and winning over of under trials. One talks about peace, the other spreads hatred. One talks about development, the other about Hindutva. One will get support from the neutrals & liberals, the other from the right & conservatives. Vajpayee-Advani in ‘90s, Advani-Modi in ‘00s and now Modi-Shah. The only problem is that the bad cop is getting worse.

And this combo has built up machinery which is already looking like Oceania even though they are still not in power. It virtually seems they have taken power before the elections. One only shudders on the thought of what if they come to power.

A few words Orwell immortalized seem to have a déjà-vu effect on you when you read about the construct created by the Modi-Shah dyad.

Big Brother

A key strategy towards BJP’s rise in dominating the political headlines has been the developing of the personality cult of Narendra Modi. Modi cannot think wrong, Modi cannot do wrong. Whatever he does is best for the country. All other ways are bad. His life and being is so important that children should read his life in comic books1 rather than read Amar Chithra Katha. Popular religious chants2 have been tweaked to praise the chosen one. You cannot stop yourself from remembering the below lines from 1984:

"At this moment the entire group of people broke into a deep, slow, rhythmic chant of 'B-B! .... B-B! .... B-B!'—over and over again, very slowly, with a long pause between the first 'B' and the second—a heavy murmurous sound, somehow curiously savage, in the background of which one seemed to hear the stamps of naked feet and the throbbing of tom-toms. For perhaps as much as thirty seconds they kept it up. It was a refrain that was often heard in moments of overwhelming emotion. Partly it was a sort of hymn to the wisdom and majesty of Big Brother, but still more it was an act of self-hypnosis, a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise."

Two Minutes Hate

Two Minutes Hate is a daily period in which Party members of the society of Oceania must watch a film depicting the Party's enemies and express their hatred for them. It is not hard to imagine hard core Modi supporters spending a good percentage of their free time spreading hatred on Modi’s opponents in facebook and personal blogs. These include migrants, minorities, Pakistan, AAP and Kejriwal supporters, Communists and Congress supporters3. You are either with us or with the terrorists.

"The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.

Doublethink

Doublethink is:

"The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

Take the case of gender equality and homosexuality. Gender equality is required and can be brought about through superficial changes but there is absolute silence about giving freedom to marry a person of your choice4. Chai pe charcha on women empowerment is organized. But it is okay that the ex-Minister for Women & Child Development in Gujarat was convicted for mass murder.

Two Plus Two Equals Five

Orwell writes thus in the book:

"In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable—what then?"

The ability of the Modi-Shah duo to not only have a control on the future but their ability to control the past is eerie. From changing history textbooks to fake encounter killings to denial of role in crimes against humanity. It is not that they have been not convicted for these crimes that is disturbing but the ease with which the society has started believing that “since they have not been convicted they are innocent” is certainly frightening. Probably the day is not far when 2+2 = 5.

P.S: Probably there is still some time left from preventing the Kali Dadi from heading the “Ministry of Love” (The Ministry of Love serves as Oceania's interior ministry. It enforces loyalty to Big Brother through fear, buttressed through a massive apparatus of security and repression, as well as systematic brainwashing)