Hijacking Chacha Chaudhary to project the Modi cult

BJP government in Maharashtra has come out with a series of illustrated books for school children under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan featuring Modi alongside the iconic Chacha Choudhary

Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media

Mala Jay

Popular comic book hero Chacha Choudhary now has a new supporting character in his hilarious adventures - Narendra Modi.

The BJP government in Maharashtra has come out with a series of illustrated books for school children under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan featuring Modi alongside the iconic Chacha Choudhary.

Some are enraged and outraged. This amounts to vulgar abuse of state power to propagate the Modi cult, they say. It is an attempt to brainwash young minds at an impressionable age and is nothing short of ideological indoctrination.

There is, however, another side to the story. Chacha Chaudhary may be a delightful character – but even the millions who enjoy his exploits know that he is a fictional comic book creation. By giving Narendra Modi a supporting role in the comic strip series, the BJP may have unwittingly captured the essence of what Modi is all about.

There is merit in this criticism. It is shocking that the cash-strapped Fadnavis government has spent lakhs of rupees just to project the image of a controversial Prime Minister; and that, too, on the pretext of providing education reading material to primary school students.

There is, however, another side to the story. Chacha Chaudhary may be a delightful character – but even the millions who enjoy his exploits know that he is a fictional comic book creation. By giving Narendra Modi a supporting role in the comic strip series, the BJP may have unwittingly captured the essence of what Modi is all about.

Far from being the man with the golden touch that his cheer-leaders have been desperately trying to project him as, Narendra Modi is rapidly being recognised for what he is, just another politician hungry for power.

When cartoonist Pran Kumar Sharma created the Chacha Chaudhary character, and even after it became a television series with Raghuvir Yadav playing the lead role, he could never have imagined that the day would come when a living Prime Minister would seek to forcefully intrude into fantasy and usurp a role for himself in the garb of furthering the cause of education and inspiring the younger generation.

As political historians have said, the difference between education and indoctrination is crystal clear - a) Education involves the seeking of facts, and learning about what is the truth, and what is not; b) Indoctrination is aimed at influencing people to believe in make-believe facts, without being able to back up these newfound facts with anything but opinion.

One can be indoctrinated into a political party or a cult or a belief system. In a way, all humans are indoctrinated into a belief system during their formative years. Whether teachers, parents or guardians are open and understanding individuals or if they are narrow-minded and obsessed only with their own ideas, race and affiliations, children are subtly indoctrinated into the belief system that is thrust upon them. Indeed, Education provides an avenue to grow out of the early instilled ideas and to develop one’s own belief system.

Another major difference, brought out by serious studies, is that Education can be directly supported by data that is derived from facts. Indoctrination on the other hand tends to use language that seeks to include all knowledge within an ideological framework -- referring to ‘all’, or ‘every’, as though the insights created are a statement of fact for each and every individual of a group.

For example: “All BJP members are nationalists”; “All Congressmen are dynasts”; “All Hindus are holy”; “All religious minorities are foreigners”.

Such bald statements of ‘all’ and ‘every’ cannot be supported without actual data. Anybody who believes in such an ideology has deserted honest opinion and fallen victim to indoctrination.

Further, education shows that there can be many different solutions, often to the same problem. In contrast, Indoctrination asserts that there is only one solution to a problem. The classic example is that in Nazi Germany, the solution to growing economic problems was to exterminate all minorities and Jewish citizens, as though this was the only possible solution. There was no room for any kind of secondary thought to the proposed solution.

At another level, education uses statistical analysis to encourage reasoning. Indoctrination misrepresents statistics only to justify and support the beliefs being propagated.

In other words, indoctrination has an agenda. The tragedy (or hilarious joke) is that a comic book character like Chacha Chaudhary is being used as a vehicle for moulding young impressionable minds and injecting an agenda.

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