Cultivate a good image | Political economics


“Life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself. This applies to individuals as well as to communities and nations. Cultivating desirable self-perceptions and maintaining them is serious business. Internationally, as a nation mired in a myriad of problems of almost every kind, Pakistan and Pakistanis are synonymous with negativity.

The brand image (or public image) of our country and its people urgently needs good public relations. An effective strategy should inform the conduct of our diplomats and members of our intelligentsia, traveling internationally.

For now, let’s admit that we have failed to create ourselves as responsible people who care about the essential norms of civilized behavior.

I was made aware of this when I read an extract from Christophe Jaffrelot’s recent book, Modi’s India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy (the book to be translated into Urdu). In the 7and book chapter – A de facto Hindu Rashtra: Indian-style vigilance – there is a subsection titled The Rise of a Parallel State: Law and Order as Moral Order, Digital Vigilantism and Physical Violence against “Sickularists”. An incident is related that caught my attention. I paraphrase the context for the sake of brevity.

When Narendra Modi started his election campaign, his populist slogan – Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas Achhay din aanay waalay hain – had a wide resonance. People from the Indian diaspora were inspired by it and many of them came back to India to fulfill Modi’s much-heralded dream. For many he was a personification of Hegel’s spirit of the world or Yug Purush, which has the same meaning in shudh Hindi (pure).

In this context, an enterprising young woman, Sadhvi Khosla, a US citizen and IT expert, decided to volunteer to advance Modi’s cause in 2014. She became an infantryman in the BJP troll army and took part in a kind of cybercrime. war. In the end, she was disenchanted and observed “a relentless flow of hatred and bigotry against minorities, the Gandhi family, blacklisted journalists, liberals… anyone perceived as anti-Modi”.

In her resignation letter, she says something that should open our eyes to a harsh reality. I quote part of Khosla’s resignation letter to make my point in the latter part of this article.

“I am a follower of Hinduism. In my Hinduism, there is no place for such hatred. If they (the trolls) continue like this, they will destroy Hinduism. After winning (the 2014 election), they only focus on polarization and hate. I don’t understand why we have to keep demonizing Muslims and photoshopping inflammatory images. I have a young son. I don’t want him to grow up in an India which is the mirror of Pakistan.

Here she projects Pakistan as a place “infected with the virus of sectarianism” and she says she does not want her son to grow up in such a place (an India which is a mirror of Pakistan). This is not an isolated projection of Pakistan as demonized Other. This requires serious introspection on our part.

The Indian Parliament passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 on December 11, 2019. It amended the Citizenship Act 1955 by providing a pathway to Indian citizenship for persecuted religious minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and the Pakistan who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists. , Jains, Parsis or Christians, and arrived in India before the end of December 2014.

The law does not grant such eligibility to Muslims from these Muslim-majority countries. The passage of the law was the first time that religion was openly used as a criterion for citizenship under Indian law. This drew worldwide criticism. The legislation has drawn strong criticism from secular-minded Indians.

In the same kind of condemnatory conversation about Thread, Karan Thapar and Talvin Singh showed their concern at the fall of their country to the “low” level typical of Pakistan. After the law was enacted, they said, Pakistanis could say, “You too are just like us.”

What is really worrying is the total complacency on our part. There has never been a response to such insinuations against Pakistan, either in the Pakistani media or from the government. Pakistani scholars should understand why the religious right can never win an election and form a government here while in India a dispensation with the RSS as its core can dominate politics for a seemingly indefinite period.

During the first fifty years of its independence, India endowed itself with a state apparatus signifying the liberalism punctuated by the Nehruvian tradition. However, society as a whole had been extremely conservative with the likes of Vallabhbhai Patel, Govind Ballabh Pant and others of their ilk wielding great influence.

The caste system acted as a bulwark against deeper penetration of liberal values ​​into Indian society. The conservative socio-cultural ethos has remained tangible in India. The BJP under Modi has just galvanized it into electoral gains. Pakistan was diametrically opposed. His society has been plural in its essence and has resisted ultra-rightist outfits.

I plead for the analysis in this direction to attract the attention of scholars and academics. Demonizing your own country and its people will continue to send negative signals to the foreign world. We must not succumb to cynicism as a nation or as individuals.

Young Pakistanis need to be sensitive to the need to cultivate their image on an individual level. This aspect should be part of our training system. This is what I want to say to young people:

You need to be aware of building a good image. Remember to be yourself, but be aware of yourself. What you say and your body language in the presence of others matters a lot. The key word here is authenticity. Be who you are in everything you do. A positive image reflects a sense of integrity, trust and credibility. These are valuable assets. You never know when you’ll need it.

In today’s world, where social networks have become indispensable means of communication, the way you project yourself online becomes very important, because people can judge you more easily.

The author is a history teacher and writer. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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