‘Satyamev Jayate’, being the motto of the country has not stopped Indian politicians from mastering the art of doublespeak. Indian political discourse is full of stonewalls, falsehoods, propaganda and disinformation.
Political speech in India is caught in a time warp. Reminiscent of the government controlled media days of ’70s, it continues to be dotted with a unique set of phrases, patronized by the power elite, that are meant to hide more than they reveal. Worse they allow our politicians to lie though their teeth. Indiscriminate, repeated and moronic use of these phrases have beaten them hollow, so much so, that they have now come to mean the exact opposite of their literal meaning.
The coinage of the word ‘doublespeak’ is attributed to George Orwell and his famous novel Nineteen Eighty Four which used the word ‘doublethink’. ‘doublespeak’ means ‘ deliberate disguise, distortion, or reversal of the meaning of words‘. One of the most famous proponents of ‘doublespeak’ ( also called ‘doubletalk’) predating the coinage of the word itself was Dr. Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister. In its present avatar, Indian politicos of all shades have embraced doublespeak with open arms. Such is its command over both the ruling and opposition think tanks, that straight talk has become a shortcut to oblivion for politicians in India. [recall the ordeals of Shahi Tharoor (Congress) and Jaswant Singh (BJP) ] Even mainline media and journalists, who are entrusted with the responsibility of exposing the doublespeak of politicians, choose to play ball with them. Their confrontationist attitude is a thing of the past. Despite mushroom growth in news channels, most find protective niches, aligning themselves with one benefactor or the other, leaving the public to fend for themselves.
Given below are some rich vignettes of doublespeak present in Indian political arena. Help us collate more such examples using the comments section down below or use twitter with #doublespeak hash tag.
- Law will take its own course actually means that it would go round and round forever without ever converging on the issue.
- We will look into the incident actually means that everyone will soon forget it.
- We will not leave the matter alone actually means that the matter will be given a silent burial.
- A commission of inquiry has been instituted to probe the allegations expeditiously actually means that the case will stretch for ever and no action will be taken.
- I have nothing to hide actually means that though there are skeletons in my cupboard, all the investigation agencies are in my pocket.
- My life is an open book actually means that you may need an atomic microscope to read it.
- This is a political conspiracy of my opponents actually means that now that I have been caught with my pants down, I’ve no other recourse but to blame the opposition.
- Guilty will not be spared actually means that they will never be caught.
- Action will be taken if guilt is proved actually means that we will not act unless we are compelled.
- Foreign terrorist group xyz is behind the attack actually means that we have no clue, how to stop this.
- His departure is a deep loss to the country actually means that no one listened to him while he was alive, but we will now pay floral tributes and claim his legacy.
- Our sympathies are with bereaved families actually means that please make do with just our sympathies.
- I announce Rs. xxx as compensation to the victims’ family actually means that whether or not the family gets something, let me derive political mileage as if I am paying from my own pocket.
- Xyz Community has no or less representation in the cabinet actually means that I will not rest till I’m inducted into the cabinet.
- Cabinet is the Prime Ministerial prerogative actually means that it is hostage to the last guy who has a bargaining chip in government formation.
- All options are open actually means that we will go with the highest bidder.
[ Also read a brilliant satire by Ramesh Srivats on the lack of ‘real answers’ in Indian Politics – The Alternate Press Conference of …. ]