As the hullabaloo over the government’s handling of the media gains traction, we thought we would help out all those confused media outlets still unable to decipher the subtle message we were trying to send them through our actions pertaining to certain news organisations and their affiliates.

Contrary to popular belief, we do not want everyone who opposes us to disappear from the face of the earth. That would ruin us. When you have a political movement built on grievances and fear of the other, you need a supply of enemies to keep feeding your rabid base in lieu of actually doing something for them. So, the ecosystem that continues to hate and resist us is ultimately the reason we continue to exist.

The problem is not that we don’t have enough people bending over backwards for us. Please! We are not worried about some person languishing in obscurity trying to do their best impression of speaking truth to power. Yeah, good luck trying to break into the fortress of disinformation and apathy that we have metaphorically constructed around a large chunk of the population.

In fact, the problem lies elsewhere. It is with all those people we have helped flourish and provided with a soapbox going off on their own or thinking that they are now big enough to turn their critical glare towards us. It’s time to set them straight.

Listen up, sheeple. You are our frontline soldier in the war on information. You don’t make decisions. You follow orders. We didn’t pick you because you were the sharpest knife in the drawer. We picked you because you are dumb, gullible and susceptible to believing in things that don’t make any sense. We chose you because you would do anything to gain approval from authority figures like us, because your parents did not hug you enough. So when you try to freelance on your own and take on enemies we haven’t approved, you are not only exceeding your brief, you are putting our entire disinformation operation in jeopardy.

Rome wasn’t built in a day

All this control over the discourse that we reap now has not been built in a day or a month or a year. It’s been taking place for decades. These are not things we are picking out at random. We and our sister organisations have spent a lifetime poisoning the discourse around these people and institutions.

Our targets have been expertly picked. We have invested a lot of our resources building a case against them. We have managed to use the inflammatory or controversial statements we ascribe to them to delegitimise everything they say or stand for. We just have to say their name and people start frothing from their mouth in anger. So don’t try your own ideas until you clear them with us first. You have absolutely no clue what you’re dealing with.

Look, we are not angry with you. If you are a true believer in our cause, we appreciate your earnestness. We realise that you are not just coming along for the ride hoping that you get some dregs of power thrown at you. You genuinely think that you’re doing something good. That is something to celebrate.

But that’s not something we can use. True believers are the worst. Earnestness has no part in our movement. If you want to criticise us for betraying the cause or breaking a promise, don’t you dare do it on the platform we have provided you. Remember, we made you who you are. And we can take everything back any time we want to. Don’t be under the wrong impression. We don’t serve you, you serve us. Don’t forget that.

We didn’t start the fire

The purpose of your existence isn’t to speak the truth. It is to present as many competing arguments as you can against the truth. Make it so that it becomes difficult to determine what the truth is. Because when nothing is true, then no one can question the people in power because you have managed to remove any basis for them to do so. We are creating an alternative reality for our voters. We are giving them a place in the world, making them feel heard. We are the scriptwriter and they our Truman Burbank.

Your job is to keep them distracted while we stealthy go about our work. When we are using the budgetary process to make changes to more than 40 Acts and laws, you talk about how the daughter of a soldier who died in Kargil has been brainwashed into abusing the Army. When we are trying to keep people away from finding out how unemployment has risen over the past three years, you talk about tying Arundhati Roy to the front of a jeep. When we are trying to pretend that the implementation of the goods and services tax isn’t another looming economic disaster for the country, you talk about how the Indian cricket team was dishonouring our motherland by participating in matches with Pakistan.

Back in my day, when we had to generate fake outrage over something, we had to either twist someone’s words or take them out of context. Now, you don’t even have to do that. You can just pretend they said something outrageous and people will believe you.

Remember, you are putting on a performance, taking something blatantly untrue and acting like it actually happened. You are approximating how you would react to certain things were you capable of human feelings. You are either part of a Shakespearean tragedy or a Wodehousian farce. Pick whatever floats your boat.

So, here is how this performative outrage works:

  • Step 1: Have any of the fake news websites our “friends” own report that one of our target liberals said something clearly dumb and outrageous. Since it is not coming from you, you have plausible deniability.
  • Step 2: Bring as much attention to the piece of fake news as you can. Once the outrage cycle is triggered, no one will bother to even check if it is true. Even their fellow-liberals will be placed on the back foot and will express their support for the said person with a “don’t agree with what the person is saying” caveat.

We’ll be a few days into it before anyone will discover that the person didn’t even say that. But by then, it will be too late. Too many people will believe that they said what you claimed they said and thanks to your generous embellishment and anger, the quote will stick to them like glue.

Troll the targets

Your job is to go after the targets we choose for you. It does not matter who the person is. Even if they are attempting to be reasonable and have given us the benefit of the doubt on previous occasions. Anytime they disagree with us, it is your job to make sure they live to regret it. We are in a war. They are just collateral damage.

You just have to find something that helps connect them to things and/or people our intrepid smear machine has spent years dehumanising. Most of the time, anything Muslimy will do. In case that does not work, check to see if your target has an anglicised first, middle or last name so that you can pass them off as a Christian masquerading as a Hindu. If they work for a non-governmental organisation, then you can claim they are funded by the Ford Foundation or the Central Intelligence Agency/Inter-Services Intelligence. Whatever the moment calls for. If you can connect them to either Jawaharlal Nehru University or Kashmir, then you’re golden. You just have to mention these two entities and they’re done for.

For example, earlier this year, during the Delhi University student protest fracas, Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) gave a speech at JNU. We didn’t even try to counter any of his arguments. We didn’t need to. Instead, we focused on the person standing next to him. That person was wearing a T-shirt with a Banksy art piece that showed a protestor throwing flowers. However, our intrepid Information technology cell mavens said he was wearing a T-shirt portraying a stone-pelter. And lo! Once that piece of fake news was passed on by the usual suspects, it turned into fact. So, there was no need to counter any of Yechury’s arguments because he was immediately turned into a stone-pelter supporting Kashmiri jihadist who wants to break up the country at the behest of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. By the time the correction was made and a few tweets deleted, the meme had already gone viral.

And that, dear friends, is how it is done!

You see, we are on the path to greatness. And the path requires sacrifices. So what if we have to sacrifice all the things that make our dysfunctional democracy actually democratic at the altar of superficial development? We might lose the very foundation the republic stands on along with thousands of human lives.

But at least we’ll get a couple of bullet trains out of it, eh?