New book offers an overarching system to make sense of post-truth phenomenon not only in politics but also in a range of areas
GN Bureau | September 24, 2021
The Art of Conjuring Alternate Realities: How Information Warfare Shapes Your World
By Shivam Shankar Singh and Anand Venkatanarayanan
HarperCollins / 284 pages / Rs 599
Professor Noam Chomsky, linguist and public intellectual, has often spoken of ‘Orwell’s Problem’: the problem of explaining how people can know so little even when the evidence is before their very eyes. From Orwell’s time to ours, it’s a full circle. On one hand, there has been an explosive rise in news consumption, along with the growth of the new media. On the other hand, people seem to know less and less. Social media has complicated the problem. Paradoxically, it’s no longer about facts: people seem to believe in what they want to believe in, creating “alternative facts”.
After Trump and Brexit, there has been a surfeit of books in the West on the phenomenon of post-truth, but not many in India. ‘The Art of Conjuring Alternate Realities: How Information Warfare Shapes Your World’, by Shivam Shankar Singh and Anand Venkatanarayanan not only fills the gap, it has a more ambitious scope and a matching depth too.
Singh, who had a stint in politics as a researcher with the BJP, is a data analyst, with a best-seller, ‘How to Win an Indian Election’ (2019) to his credit. This time, he has teamed up with Venkatanarayanan who is cyber security and privacy researcher. The team brings their varied experience to a vast range of issues beyond the manipulation of the voter’s mind by political parties – how cyber criminals, godmen, intelligence agencies and even nation-states indulge in creating alternative realities, all in their quest for power and influence.
For a conscientious citizen in the digital age, the first duty is to stick to truth, even if it has become extremely difficult to do so, given the tricks and tactics they employ, as illustrated in this book with detailed case studies. Yet, that citizen will find enough help to maintain sanity, question implanted narratives and strengthen democratic impulses.
In pursuance of the pro-people announcement made by the prime minister in 2021 and successful implementation of additional food security under PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana, the union cabinet has approved its extension for a further period of three months, from October to December 2022. At a ti
A Case of Indian Marvels: Dazzling Stories from the Country’s Finest Writers Edited by David Davidar Aleph, 390 pages, Rs 999 Change is the only constant, and India has always been doing so. Yet, after independence, if there was a year when the p
“My volume of business has increased ever since I registered on GeM (Government e-Marketplace) in 2017. Earlier, I could supply items only in the vicinity of my shop in Fort area and only within Mumbai. Now, I ship my products all over the country! I have tied up with India Post and three private cou
The Journey of Hindi Language Journalism in India: From Raj to Swaraj and Beyond By Mrinal Pande Orient BlackSwan, 188 pages, Rs 1,195.00 In India, the English-language media is considered the ‘national media’, while the language press
The telecom sector in the country will witness more reforms in the coming years, minister for communications, electronics & IT and railways Ashwini Vaishnaw has said. He also asserted that the industry too will have to do its bit and reciprocate by improving quality of service significantly.
Left-wing extremism is in existence right from India’s independence, but it became prominent in 1967 under the name of Naxalism. The nomenclature of this movement has changed from time to time and place to place depending upon the leadership. Before 2014 more than 15 states were facing this problem w