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Perceptions, not data determine social realities in India: Book

twitter-logoPTI | June 19, 2019 | Updated 17:43 IST

(Eds: Fixing typo in headline) New Delhi, Jun 19 (PTI) The existential debate homogenisation and pluralism in India continues to be waged with information - simplifications, inventions, denials, lies and other stories - with greater intensity and speed than ever, says a new book. In “The Truth About Us: The Politics of Information from Manu to Modi”, academician-social commentator Sanjoy Chakravorty examines how certain “truths” about Indian society have come to be established through the control and manipulation of information by those who have ruled India. The book, published by Hachette India, presents a fresh argument on how the inherent complexity of Indian society has constantly been ignored by those in power and a simplistic version of it fed to the people in the form of convenient labels to make governance easier. Presented in a lucid manner, its arguments point out to the consequences of India’s major religious and caste identities and categorisations on today’s politics and issues of inequality that are permanently up for debate and dissection. It also offers an approach to analysing the “post-truth” condition - from the age of scrolls, through printing, to smartphones - combining ideas from the social sciences and behavioural psychology with information theory. “Numerous actors tell and sell multiple stories - for money or power or some other self-interest,” the author says. “These multiple stories - of India’s past, its heroes and villains, its religions and jatis, its development and poverty, its winners and losers, its myths and histories - reach the public in ever greater volumes,” he says. One of the Chakravorty’s primary arguments is that many of the major social categories that define India now are new categories that were created by the British and did not exist in anything close to their current forms before colonisation. “These new categories include most of the major ones like Hindu, Jain, Sikh, untouchables and tribals,” he says, adding the root cause of the creation of new categories is the production or discovery of new information. PTI ZMN RDS RDS RDS

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