What termites do to a bookshelf, humans sometimes do to words. We hollow them out of all meaning, relevance, and power. By using a word frivolously, repeatedly, and in the wrong context, we render a word sterile.
The Left has by far been the ninjas of hollow words and slogans. It has reduced to cud words like “fascist”, “Nazi”, “genocide”, “class enemy” and “bigot” by chewing on them incessantly, often just to win a high-school level argument.
Thinking people do not take these words seriously when it comes from usual suspects. The Left owes much of its decline to hollowed out words and slogans.
Why should the Right be left behind?
It has started following the Left’s footsteps with one word in particular: “anti-national”. This is being loosely thrown at anyone who differs in point of view. The slur caught on when a group of people shouted “Bharat tere tukde tukde/ Inshallah, inshallah” on the JNU premises, while feting terrorist Afzal Guru, the man behind the 2001 Parliament attack. It was an anti-national act. It enraged the nation.
But since then, the word has been overused and misused to a point that RSS-backed magazine Panchajanya carried an article recently called Infosys “anti-national”. It is a term that could be used to describe the attempt to drape Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s body with a Pakistan flag.
But to call an Indian tech giant which directly employs nearly 2.6 lakh Indians and is worth over $100 billion in the middle of a pandemic "anti-national" is to erase the line between vigilance and full-blown paranoia. What is Infosys’ fault? It has botched up the implementation of the income-tax site after doing a shoddy job on the GST site. Also, it funds a few media outlets critical of the Narendra Modi government.
Does all that make it anti-national? Most definitely not. But it dilutes the import of the word and demeans nationalism.
For a nation which aspires to lead the world, private industry cannot be fair game for slamming and slander. India cannot be built by the government alone. The private sector’s role is too crucial to its development goals. Reliance, Tata, Infosys, Wipro and other giants give employment to millions, contribute heavily in taxes, provide relief under corporate social responsibility and make India proud. To target them callously, without any proof, is to target the nation itself.
The RSS was quick to distance itself from the Panchajanya piece.
“As an Indian company, Infosys has made seminal contribution in progress of the country. There might be certain issues with a portal run by Infosys, but the article published by Panchajanya in this context only reflects individual opinion of the author. Panchajanya is not mouthpiece of the RSS and the said article or opinions expressed in it should not be linked with the Sangh," RSS’ national publicity head Sunil Ambekar posted on Twitter.
The Sangh has at least disowned the piece. But the Opposition continues to bash India Inc gratuitously without any evidence. Using “Ambani-Adani agent” as a slur is in Congress’ everyday checklist.
During the Congress-backed middleman-farmers’ protest in Punjab, thousands of Jio towers were attacked and smashed.
Indian polity should think a hundred times before undermining the nation’s industry. If there is one act that is anti-national, it is that of striking at the heart of India’s business and industry.