Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Real world of Fake pictures


Internet, with its firebrand of anonymous 'Hindus', is today, a successful mass communication device. It has penetrated the most unusual sections of society and has thus garnered a cult status. So much so, that it has become a tool for both- offense and defense. Support a cause and you risk being labelled. Pass a comment and you risk being branded. Post a tweet and you risk being arrested!
Quite recently, an interesting piece of drama unfolded in the Gujarat assembly election campaign. It was of course the eternal, BJP Vs. Congress dilemma, yet it had a virtual undertone to it. A malnourished child, proposed to be from Gujarat but traced to belong to Srilanka, appeared in an electoral advertisement of the Congress. Understandably, the BJP raised a massive hue and cry about the picture being 'fake'. The media too, lapped up the information quickly and passed its verdict- reinforcing the 'Con' of the Congress. I was left wondering how significant the issue really was. Does posting a wrong picture change the fact that over 40 percent of Gujarat's children are malnourished? Does it alter the reality that the CM attributes this malnourishment to figure-consciousness? Actually, it doesn't matter. The BJP has already got its salvo which would probably be fired at the Congress for a long time now, considering, the party prefers to choose the ideology of 'ruckus' over 'discuss'.
Nevertheless, the incident reminded me of a few pictures circulating on the Internet. I had stumbled upon them on various forums and despite their falseness being a foregone conclusion, I saw them being 'shared', 'commented' and 'liked' extensively. The vigour with which the 'Internet-Hindu' PR cell is working and exploiting the situation, deserves a pat on the back, albeit a sharp one. If they'd channelized the same amount of energy in building up this nation, the situation would've been far different from what we see today. Anyhow, I browsed through the variety of falsehood and picked 15 of my favorite lies. Here is a list of these visual myths, along with the plain truth that debunks them.

1.

Occupying the first spot, this picture is nothing short of a time machine. It mixes two separate and unconnected events held in 2012 and 2008 respectively, in order to literally fool the viewer's patriotism. The 'Mazaa' on the left, is actually a shot taken after the Cabinet reshuffle of October 2012. The 'Sazaa', on the right, presents the heart-rending cry of a mother who lost her son (Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan) in the 26/11 attacks. Had the picture talked about the shoddy handling of the terror attacks, it would have been a different matter altogether. Similarly, had the picture been used to discuss our preparation to meet any external eventuality, it would still be worth sharing. But honestly, I don't see any point in mixing two occasions of different nature to play with popular emotion while spreading anti-Congress propaganda.

2.

Another widely circulated picture, this one in particular presents a jumbo mix of politics and economics- unfortunately, both gross & incorrect. In the first glance,it appears that India harbors the most expensive petrol prices in South Asia. However, a closer look clearly shows the incompetency of the picture-maker. Firstly, he/she includes 'Cuba' as a part of India's neighborhood- Bad Geography. Secondly, he/she clubs oil-producing and oil-importing nations together- Bad World Knowledge. Finally, he/she presents a distorted picture of oil comparisons and oil deductions- Bad Understanding. Under the 'How it comes to this' part, the basic cost, excise duty and state taxes have been shown inappropriately. In reality, these fluctuate in response to international and domestic compulsions. As far as the comparisons are concerned, here is India's position w.r.t. other nations-

www.kshitij.com/research/petrol.shtml

The link clearly shows the relative position of India. We, being a growing economy which requires fuel to spur its economic activities, are in dire need of oil import. Geographically, our reserves are not sufficient to cater to our population and our prices, economically speaking, are pegged to the international costs. Any fluctuation therefore, makes us vulnerable to a price rise. Despite that, the OMC's absorb immediate price shocks and pass over only a limited amount to be extracted from the consumers. I certainly agree that strong steps to capture this rise need to be taken by the government. I also am of the view that the fuel burden on the exchequer and the common citizenry needs to be lightened. Nevertheless, spreading fake knowledge would only lead to a state of furious anarchy.
P.S.- Someone please tell the picture maker that VAT is not a Cess.


3.

Third on my list is this picture, which I greeted with shock and surprise. The maker exhorts the viewers to spit on the Constitution since it permits people to move deftly between Prison and Parliament. Untrue. Had the Constitution been read even slightly, the maker would have known that neither one of the Constitution's 395 articles, deals with this issue. Yes, it does prescribe parliamentary privileges and they are meant to be honoured. If thieves and dacoits grace the Parliament today, it is simply because they were backed by the power of a vote. They contested, they manipulated, they won. More than them, I blame the voters who choose scoundrels to represent them. Vote for someone you think deserves to sit in the temple of democracy. You can not put power in the hands of hoodlums and then complain about it at the same time. Moreover, incorrect interpretation of the Constitution will do this country no good. It is the supreme law of the land- sacrosanct and inviolable. It can be amended with time but it can not be disposed off. We need to draw the line of libel somewhere. THIS is absolutely non-acceptable. Can we let the fundamentals of this country be eaten away by being a part of this doctored information?

4.

Picture four is a careful intermix of S.C. Bose and J.L. Nehru- both freedom fighters of the INC in their own right. History itself speaks volumes about the contributions of both characters. You can debate their methods, you can discuss their decisions- but you certainly can not compare them to denigrate their parent party. The 'Determination for nation' was not an exclusive virtue of S.C. Bose, neither was 'Passion for Women'. The first Prime Minister of India, who has been depicted as a womanizer in this picture, was a ferociously loyal husband. After his marriage to Kamla Nehru in 1916, he took upon himself to educate her. He initiated her in the freedom struggle and stood by her side while she organized women group movements in India. In 1936, when Kamla Nehru was on her deathbed , J.L.Nehru was lodged in prison. He was given the choice to quit all political activities and stay by his wife. He refused. So did she. In her last communication to him, she asked him to stay put and fight for freedom. THIS man- a womanizer! His friendship with Edwina Mountbatten too is often quoted out of context. In fact, a closer look at this specific picture reveals that it was clicked during a ceremony. Look at the mirror behind the lady. You'll see a row of people standing and watching.

5.

Oh! The 'Sanskars' are at work here. Look at Mr.Vajpayee and look at Mr.Gandhi. One bows before women and the other makes women bow before him. Did this picture evoke the same response from you? Sad! Now look at the picture again. The banner behind Mr.Vajpayee candidly displays 'Women empowerment'. During one such function, he gracefully touched the feet of a woman older to him. Kudos! Mr.Gandhi, on the other hand, is surrounded by black-jacketed individuals who form a part of his security. The woman is actually approaching him to get his attention. Despite the breach, he acknowledged her. Kudos again! There have been numerous instances when both leaders have touched the feet of others or others have touched their feet. What is the need to misconstrue a simple mark of respect and turn it against the personal life of an individual? The cultural value of a person arises out of what they do, not what they show.

6.

About picture six, the lesser said the better. The claims are simply out of the ordinary- Mystic and Paranormal to an extent. Before I put down documentation to expose the truthfulness of this picture, I'd just like to ask its maker a few simple questions. The 'data' seems to have been released by the 'International Council of UN'. Sadly, no such body exists or ever existed. Even if it did, it would have measured the performance of a country as a whole. Many nations in the world, do not have 'states' like India does. On what basis, then, can Gujarat government be the 2nd best State government in the world? More so, the picture itself boasts of a discrepancy. While it announces Gujarat to be the 2nd best state on the top, it mentions 1st on the right. The truth about the blatant lies being propagated here, can be found on the following links-

a. Gujarat's debt has actually risen by 46% -www.indiatribune.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8498%3Agujarats-per-capita-debt-set-to-rise-by-46-&catid=125%3Ageneral-news&Itemid=400

b. Gujarat ranks 14th in giving employment- news.outlookindia.com/items.aspx?artid=769875

c. Gujarat ranks 15th in providing education- articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-04-27/ahmedabad/29478529_1_rural-areas-schools-education"

d. Gujarat's World bank deposits- www.indiastudychannel.com/forum/91969-Gujarat-depositing-1lakh-crores-world-bank-just-hype-fake-news.aspx

In the eagerness to promote Mr.Modi as the next Prime Ministerial candidate, the picture maker seems to have totally forgotten that stains of blood can't be washed off by fabricating data. The raped women, the killed men and the orphaned children seek justice- NOT tokenism.
P.S.- Someone teach the poor guy some grammar!

7.

When Dr.Singh went to attend the ASEAN Summit in November 2012, he did not have a single clue that his orange shirt would become the talk of the town. It was later realized that he wore it owing to a dress code. Still, the colour was way too glossy for him to don. Leaving apart the fashion statement, the picture above makes a misrepresentation again. It claims the above to actually be a wax statue of the Prime Minister at Madame Tussaud's. Its quite funny how people believe that since this particular picture was flashed all over the mainstream media during the summit. Also, the maker misspells Dr.Singh's name- Mandmohan- a practical joke or a deliberate mistake? Either way, I was surprised how the current media-savvy generation missed this blunder.

8.

Here is the 'Hidden Truth' of the 2G scam by India's very own conspiracy theorist- Mr.Subramaniam Swamy. Not only has he provided the details of who received bribe money but he has also explained, in intricate details, how this money was distributed. Unfortunately, the court did not hold up his claim. Except A.Raja, Kanimozhi and Shahid Balwa (who in turn were arrested by the CBI, presumably functioning under Government's control) none of the above mentioned individuals were found involved by the court. In fact, his appeal was unanimously turned down by the bench which further asked him to "refrain from wasting the court's time". There is just one question which I'd like to ask him. If he knew so much was going on, why didn't he speak up WHILE it was underway? Why cook up stories when the water has already passed under the bridge? It now appears that he has taken to the Internet for vociferously spreading baseless rumors. Do you remember who was the last national leader to undertake such active propaganda? - Hitler.

9.

This picture does not require any description. It is the handiwork of a sick mind and a sicker conscience. You can oppose a government for its policies. You can oppose a party for its politics. You can even oppose an individual for his/her tactics. But you cannot put words in the mouth of people you know absolutely nothing about. Not only is this picture suggestive, but it subtly tries to imply an explicit scenario. The portrayal of Digvijay Singh and Rahul Gandhi denigrates a community, as a whole. It appears that the picture-maker is obsessed with transgenders, either because he has conducted an extensive research on the community or because he is one himself. In either case, his showcasing of a contaminated mentality is complete. By actively sharing pictures of this nature, not only do we offend the society but also the spiritual self that we may believe in. Reprehensible!

10.

The maker of Picture ten is a classic example of a person who failed Mathematics in school. I was bad at Maths too, but honestly, I was way better than THIS. Here are the calculations- 80 + 2= 82. 82-5= 77. What about the remaining 23% of population? Were they deaf, dumb or selectively mute? Moreover, how can -5% of the sample be calculated? There is no option in research methodology to accomplish the same. Strangely, our maker has done it! Amazing. The bias towards the man in the middle can easily be gauged by the way the names of the leaders on left and right have been spelled. Nitish 'Khan'. Really? Because he prefers secularism over communalism? Ra.Owl? Because you don't like him? I don't know about everyone else, but the India today group and ORG would certainly not be proud of this. Mr. Modi is known far and wide for fabricating data. I didn't know his pupils would learn his skills, without even clearing their matriculation exams.

11.

Do you know how Sonia Gandhi is ruling India? Well, here are the details! Shh! She is secretly working for the Christians and Muslims while ruling a largely Hindu nation. More so, her secret agenda is to have India fall in the hands of Vatican city while she clandestinely works for ISI. I have probably never before seen a theory as stupid, as mindless and as retarded as this one. The picture, in a meticulous manner, explains her connections with different countries. She is proselytizing, terrorizing and exploiting- all at the same time! Belgium, Netherlands and France serve as her intelligence advisers! I am sorry. All I can do is laugh at the idiocy of the maker and the stupidity of those who share. Remember guys, the WORLD has better things to do and graver problems to solve, than to gain power in India.
P.S.- Why do I smell Subramaniam Swamy?

12.

The current UPA regime is hit by scams. Agree. The amounts, largesse and deals involved are mind-boggling. Agree. The courts are investigating the allegations and ultimately the truth will emerge. Agree. But what exactly is this picture trying to portray? 30 scams and a few 'Coming up'? That's got to be something huge for a government to accomplish in eight years. Let's have a look at what the list carries. There are certain scams which never happened. The list appears to be randomly generated. These include- Fake Pilots Scam, Telephone exchange Scam, RAW Scam, Reliance Discount Scam, Videocon Scam, Ashok Gehlot Builder Scam, NREGA scam or Kandla Port scam. Then there are others with which the current dispensation has nothing to do! For example- The Sukna Land scam relates the Army; Madhu Koda corruption and Karnataka Land scam relate to the opposition; The Satyam scam relates to the Private sector. Strangely, look at entry 1 and 25- find any similarity? Additionally, the 'Coming Soon' part contains a few agreements of the government with foreign entities to help boost India's growth. Clearly, I fail to see a 'scam' in a nuclear power project and an arms deal. Its funny how every nasty act to have ever happened is being blamed on certain individuals selectively. If justice is what we are seeking, we need to first ask ourselves, are we doing justice? 'India, being, against Congress' will not help. But 'India, being with development' sure will.

13.

This picture places all principles of economic rationality in a strange position. Facts, once again, have been quoted out of context coupled with an overload of misinformation. India, under Nehru, was principally a protectionist economy. The man was of the belief that we must not allow foreign imports to harm Indian manufacturing. Thereby, heavy investments were made in order to set up a primary industrial base. Slowly and steadily, rupee was devalued to enhance competition and to bring India at par with other developing economies. The 'New economic policy' of 1991, was not a random measure of the government of the day. Had it not been implemented, India would have had to face the embarrassment of going bankrupt! We, at that point, did not have enough reserves to continue for even a period of 14 days! Today, in a liberalized economy, the value of rupee is pegged to the market forces. Depending on international and national, financial cum political circumstances, it depreciates or appreciates. What I fail to understand is, how or why for God's sake is this a 'damage'? Is moving with the times bad? Is trying to attain better quantity of products in order to induce a better quality of life disastrous? I wonder in which era is the picture-maker living. He/She needs to remember that prehistoric times have long been over.

14.

This picture, I feel, is a direct question on popular mandate. In 2009, India spoke. It was for some. It was against some. But, it appears that the losers turned sore. They could not digest the triumph of the victor and thus proposed the formation of a media cell which specializes in name-calling, abuse-hurling, falsification and plain idiocy. What you get as a consequence is what you see above. Why is it being implied over and over again that 'America' has a role in government formation in India? It may have its inclinations, but ultimately it is the common man who chooses- the street vendor, the vegetable seller, the laborer, the shopkeeper. To them, it doesn't matter who conducted a nuclear test or who was negligent enough to let terrorists enter Parliament. To them, the trio of food, house and employment makes all the difference. Let us be decent enough to discuss issues which really matter. Bringing up irrelevant topics is an absolute waste of democracy.
P.S.- Pokharan-1 was conducted in 1974, under Indira Gandhi's command. Did America not want that government too?

15.

Last but not the least, if nothing else holds substance, unleash the dogs on the Gandhi family. Were you aware that Motilal Nehru was the son of a non-existent Mughal called 'Ghiyazuddin Ghazi'? Or that Indira Gandhi's real name was 'Maimuna Begum'? Well, here the picture-maker has presented a beautifully listed family chronicle. Strangely, the chronicle does not mention a word about Menaka Gandhi or Varun Gandhi, who are pretty much a part of this family, but not the party. Selective amnesia? Or Deliberate mud-slinging? Secondly, even if the Nehru-Gandhi roots are traced to a Muslim man in distant past, how does that make a difference? Are they not a part of this nation? Are they lesser individuals? If that is the case, let us chuck out Dr.Singh and Mr.Advani for being born in Pakistan and having Muslim friends. Let us ask the 'Khans' of Bollywood to stop entertaining us. Let us turn this nation into the 'Sanatan Republic of India'. Disgusting!

It is one thing to support a party, but it is quite another to blindly follow and justify all its wrongdoings. I understand the limitations of the overworked PR managers, but ask yourselves- is it truly necessary to denigrate individuals by falsifying information and undertaking consistent character assassination? If your conscience permits you to do it, go ahead. If it doesn't, be graceful enough to weigh both sides on an equal scale.

Do not spread 'Fake' pictures because you are inclined to BJP or Congress. Spread 'Real' knowledge because you are committed to this Nation.