In this interview, when Ashis Nandy talked about media consultants moulding the image of politicians so that it is the way the public wants them to be, I was reminded of a character in the novel A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. This character had throat trouble and said that he had got it by working in 'morcha producion'. This job involved making up slogans, hiring crowds, and producing rallies or demonstrations for different political parties.He had gone into this job after being a proofreader for many years. He explains the intricacies of his job:
'Writing speeches, designing banners -all that was easy. With years of proofreading under my belt, I knew exactly the blather and bluster favoured by professional politicians. My modus operandi was simple. I made up three lists: Candidate's Accomplishments, (real and imaginary), Accusations Against Opponent (including rumours, allegations, innuendos, and lies) and Empty Promises (the more improbable the better). Then it was merely a matter of taking various combinations of items from the three lists, throwing in some bombast, tossing in a few local references, and there it was - a brand new speech. I was a real hit with my clients.'
'My difficulties lay in the final phase, out on the street. You see, I had spent my working life in an office, in silence, and my throat was unexcercised. Now suddenly I was yelling instructions, shouting slogans, exhorting the crowds to repeat after me. It became too much. Much too much for my underused larynx.'When asked why he didn't let the rented crowd do the yelling for him, he said that he couldn't break out of his old habit of doing everything himself. He says:
I could not leave it to the rented crowd to do the shouting. after all, the success of a demonstration is measured in decibels. Clever slogans and smart banners alone will not do it. So I felt I must lead by example, employ my voice enthusiastically, volley and thunder, beseech the heavens, curse the forces of evil, shriek the praises of the benefactor - bellow and clamour and cry and cheer till victory was mine!'I had not heard the term 'morcha production' before reading this book. Perhaps the folks involved in morcha production have more respectable, corporatised designations now like media consultant or member of the communication cell or, in these days of popularity of the war metaphor, he or she may be a member of the 'war room'.
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