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Hidden persuaders

By Uday Dandavate | PUBLISHED: 10, Nov 2014, 12:59 pm IST | UPDATED: 10, Nov 2014, 13:05 pm IST

Hidden persuaders During the last Lok Sabha elections Mr Narendra Modi adopted state of art methods of communication. A successful 12 year long campaign in Gujarat has demonstrated that he has keen interest in  human psychology and deep trust in the power of advertising. Mr Modi was able to offer his media team an opportunity to expand their imagination and creativity with abundant freedom and limitless resources.

A target audience craving for the sight of a knight in shining armor, provided a perfect opportunity for creative story telling. The promise of development to an audience appalled by the corruption under the congress government was compelling. A decisive persona was projected as a more attractive option than a meek spectator Mr Manmohan Singh was perceived as or a fumbling and confused person Rahul proved to be. A man who wielded power in Gujarat was positioned as a better option than the man who sacrificed power in Delhi.

The team was able to harness religious metaphors in Indian psychology through branding Mr Modi as NAMO, making a ritual out of the slogan Har Har Modi and projecting other audio visual animations on the stage to turn a Modi meeting into an occasion for assertion of Hindu identity.

An innovation introduced into the election campaign was 'holographic meetings' it is reported that Mr Modi was able to address 45 meetings simultaneously through use of holographic imaging technology. A 3 dimensional video image of Mr Modi would appear on the stage at 45 different places and he would address them with magical effect- almost as if a deity appeared on the scene.

While Mr Modi's supporters revere him for his innate talent in hidden persuasion, his detractors find in his approach more style than substance, more hype than meaning, more illusion than reality.

Governance of course is a different animal. Media hype can work for a while but there must be clear evidence of ground level changes in the lives of ordinary people. Mr Ambani and Adani have already begun to experience better days. Ordinary citizens cannot be expected to remain mesmerized with techniques in illusion. Holographic images, however enticing, will not satisfy the hunger pangs of starving people.