Political narrative

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Political narrative is a term used in the humanities and political sciences to describe the way in which storytelling can shape fact and impact on understandings of reality.


  • India seems to have lost that urge to consistently relate to injustice as an assault on democracy. Be it plight of migrants or minorities, their failure to strike wider chord tells truths about us. [...] The emphasis has been twofold: That the state knows, the state is right, the state must be privileged, and that citizen action is suspect, potentially disruptive and liable to punishment. It is in the backdrop of this subdued rights discourse and de-legitimised agency of the people that the current moment has unfolded wherein criticism is almost seditious, claiming rights for marginalised sections can be termed as waging war against the state and empathising with victims of social injustice is ridiculed or forbidden. The current regime has converted the penchant for sub-democratic state action into a fearsome art. [...] This might appear ironic, but in spite of a comparatively higher degree of repression, the lack of popular protest is more because of the success of the regime in constructing and popularising a narrative that not just delegitimises but simply denies the existence of suffering, injustice and victimhood. This is the narrative of subverting reality into its opposite. In this world of alternative reality, the victim is the offender (as in case of Muslims), suffering is sacrifice if not ill-informed exaggeration (as in the case of migrants’ plight) and marginalisation or exclusion are outcomes of past politics (as in the case of Dalits or Adivasis). This narrative posits two contrasting social camps. One is the nation. It represents unity, progress and a possible millennium. All else is fragmentary and divisive. So any voice speaking of a particular group's suffering becomes a hurdle in the march of the nation; any coalition of the marginalised by definition assumes an anti-national tenor. Such is the power of the narrative that the facts of suffering, humiliation or injustice lose their evocative potential; they cease to scandalise, they are unable to evoke a moral response. Democracy can thus afford the co-existence of multiple injustices and a quiet citizenry when such narratives are able to reconstruct facts and convince the masses of the validity of that reconstruction. The silence today is a result of the popular acceptance of reconstructed reality and adherence to an alternative morality.

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