Morbid Stereotyping and Labelling

Morbid Stereotyping and Labelling
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The attack on Kashmiri students in Haryana cannot and must not be dismissed as one carried out by “loonies”, “crazies”, “malcontents”, “goons” or any other label. The implication here is not that there was a grand design or even conspiracy behind these beatings. There might or might not have been one but the actual issue is the context – emotional, psychological and political- that incubated these attacks. This context has been, to state the obvious, been generated by the continuous, persistent and consistent barrage of demonizing, labelling and stereotyping Kashmiris by sections of the Indian media. The nature of this labelling and stereotyping has been to castigate Kashmiris as India’s hostile and implacable “Other”. The larger aim appears to be to create an “in group” and “outgroup” feeling in India- all in service of power political goals and in the nature of a time tested technique. So, essentially, a mind game is being played out, at the expense of Kashmiris. The technique’s target is actually the larger Indian audience and it attacks and alters both the conscious and subconscious, and emotional universes of the people in India. From a psychological or even psycho-analytic perspective, and speaking in generic terms, human beings need something and someone to define themselves against. In the context of Kashmir, it appears the new self definition that is sought to be engineered in India is one that of an Indian self that is in contrast to the larger Indian self. Sections of the media are instrumental in bringing this about. While, the technique in contention might or might not work, it is actually innocents who get caught in the crucible of these political games. Ideally, these kinds of morbid and dastardly approaches and techniques to politics and politicking should not even be countenanced let alone practiced. But, we live in a far from perfect world where the ideal gets swamped by the prosaic. Returning to the specific issue of beatings of Kashmiri students in Haryana, these are corollaries. The larger issue lies somewhere else. Again, speaking in general and broader terms, the world we inhabit is one where innocents are bearing the brunt and prices of power-political and discursive measures employed for political reasons. This must and should not be allowed further leeway and latitude. The onus lies on the multiple forms of media to actually give short shrift to this kind of politics and sordid means. Instead of focusing on ratings or being the hand maiden of power, in some cases, the media should, in consonance with ethics and morality, should work towards a better world where difference is not made to perceive as a threat but something to be cherished.

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