“No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.” John F Kennedy

Is that what is on today! Yes the mill is working over time. Never before have we seen the deluge of this magnitude churning and spreading out with impunity and let us thank first the social media; emails, twitter, facebook, chat, and so on. The  routine media is not far behind;  ‘investigative news’ by ‘dedicated’ journalists further amplified in editorials by ‘revered’ editors, talk shows in the electronic media and of course the screeching and screaming panel discussions at prime time on ‘captive’ TV shows. In a nutshell propaganda hound has been unleashed, sadly here in our country.

Propaganda is the manipulation of information to influence public opinion, Webster dictionary. The term started to gain currency in 1622, when a new branch of the Catholic Church was created, called the Congregation for Propagating the Faith or simply Propaganda. A group of cardinals took upon themselves to spread Catholicism in non Catholic countries through the new found means. They were especially alarmed with the rapid spread of Protestants. By the end of 18th century considering the gains it accrued propaganda in secular activities came to the forefront. The term began taking a derogative connotation in the mid-19th century, when it was appropriated from religion to the political sphere.

An account published by The Times, titled ‘White Man’s Burden’ regarding an incident during the ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ where 48 English girls as young as 10–14 were supposedly raped by the Indian rebels in Delhi was criticized as a false propaganda story by Karl Max, who pointed out that the story was reported by a clergyman in Bangalore, far from the events of the rebellion.

In the early 20th century, propaganda was exemplified in the form of party slogans. Also in the early 20th century the term propaganda was used by the founders of the nascent public relations industry to refer to their activities.

Soviet Union and Germany’s government under Hitler admitted explicitly to using propaganda favoring, respectively, communism and Nazism in all forms of public expression. As these ideologies were repugnant to liberal western societies, the negative feelings toward them came to be projected into the word “propaganda” itself.

Repetition is one ingredient of propaganda, the others are citing support from prominent persons, instill anxiety and fear, join the bandwagon, victory is ours, it is a mass movement, demonizing the enemy, half truths, disinformation, lying and deception, managing the news, name calling, the rise of a cult personality, generating euphoria and depicting their leader as the savior and so on.

Perhaps, the propaganda machinery works overtime to confront a crisis especially in war time scenario. During World War I the British propaganda excelled at using the right words to convey precise and authoritative meaning. An example of this is the simple poster which depicts two children asking their squirming father, “Daddy, what did you do in the Great War?”

Joseph Goebbels was Hitler’s Propaganda minister during the Second World War; his achievements outshine most as he convinced a nation to lay their lives under the leadership of a dictator, who often quoted,

-         Humanitarianism is the expression of stupidity and cowardice.

-          If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough,

it will be believed.

-         Great liars are also great magicians.

Sounds familiar? At least to me as I read and see and hear that the propaganda surrounding us rests more on personalities than issues and ideas. I however try remain sedated with a thought that does appeal to me,

“Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps to deceive themselves,” Eric Hoffer