By Prof Shazia Cheema
Indian Propaganda against Pakistan is heavily loaded with cognitive and semiotic theories hence must not be taken lightly.
This article will try to explain how Indian media is using modern scientific techniques to change the perception and to set target perception about “China Pakistan Economic Corridor” (CPEC).
Pakistan is under the attack of massive propaganda by our sworn enemy India, to counter-attack one must know how words can be used as a weapon; it may sound an over-exaggerated statement but complete knowledge of the functionality of this weapon of mass destruction can give a shiver to a sane person. Words in the form of positive and negative propaganda is an ancient art of war however it is a recent discovery to get the deeper mechanism behind the operation.
Electronic media swirl the notion of communication from its core and create the utmost demand to understand its mechanics. Words are meaning-making tools and meaning can be created as “agandafied” (An idea based on certain set agenda) must be the crucial debate among other issues in terms of front-line defense. If in future defense system has its communication warfare core, it will not astonish a skeptical observer.
India has initiated a campaign to change the acquired perception and set another target perception against CPEC
Among a long list of meaning creating/generating processes one famous mechanism is a conceptual metaphor—also known as a generative metaphor—is a metaphor (or figurative comparison) in which one idea (or conceptual domain) is understood in terms of another. In cognitive linguistics, the conceptual domain from which we draw the metaphorical expressions required to understand another conceptual domain is known as the source domain. The conceptual domain that is interpreted in this way is the target domain. Thus, the source domain of the journey is commonly used to explain the target domain of life.
Conceptual metaphors are part of the common language and conceptual precepts shared by members of a culture. These metaphors are systematic because there is a defined correlation between the structure of the source domain and the structure of the target domain.
We generally recognize these things in terms of a common understanding. For example, in our culture, if the source concept is “death,” the common target destination is “leave-taking or departure.”
Indian media extensively using terms to malign a developmental program (CPEC) with the help of conceptual metaphor theory
CPEC is a development initiative covering a vast population, its future impact is perceived as a game-changer for a so-called unipolar world. Its perceived connotations are prosperity, harmony, peace, collectiveness, etc. For the time being it has been perceived like that till a massive campaign by India has initiated to change the acquired perception and set another target perception.
The human brain is a super machine and cannot be fooled easily, the process of changing perception is slow and systematic. It starts with a narrative building. Every culture has a set of schematic images upon which they built their further understanding, an alien perspective cannot stand long in a narrative if not connected to existing schemas of the target society. Let’s give a closer look again; CPEC synonyms to peace, prosperity, and harmony in the region however Indian propaganda machines spend massive time, money, and expertise to connotate CPEC as hegemony, colonialism, power structure, slavery, debt, a new super power, economic monopoly. The Indian media extensively using these terms to malign a developmental program with the help of conceptual metaphor theory. Because conceptual metaphors are drawn from a collective cultural understanding, they’ve eventually become linguistic conventions.
This explains why the definitions for so many words and idiomatic expressions are dependent on understanding accepted conceptual metaphors. The connections we make are largely unconscious. They’re part of an almost automatic thought process. Although sometimes, when the circumstances that bring the metaphor to mind are unexpected or unusual, the metaphor evoked may also be more out of the ordinary.
Cognitive linguists George Lakoff and Mark Johnson have identified three overlapping categories of conceptual metaphors:
- An orientational Metaphor is a metaphor that involves spatial relationships, such as up/down, in/out, on/off, or front/back.
Slavery, being in debt, under control are orientational metaphor change the perceived orientation of the target population. As explained that using these concepts as a source domain requires a deep schematic imprint in the target population. Evidently, we are fully aware of the idea of slavery, and being under control so that makes these terms the perfect source domain to build the target domain. The only requirement is the linkage between source and target domain. By co-relating China to any colonial power is required to twist the fact and connect hegemony to china. The repetitive logical maneuvering will change the acquired source domain and set the target domain.
- An ontological Metaphor is a metaphor in which something concrete is projected onto something abstract.
The idea of China being a superpower is an abstraction, not readily available in concrete form, to dwell on the thought that we have certain reservations having one country an absolute power makes the source domain actable to our mind and again its repetitive, conscious and logical projection can ultimately change the perception.
- A structural Metaphor is a metaphorical system in which one complex concept (typically abstract) is presented in terms of some other (usually more concrete) concept.
Considering CPEC as East India Company is a textbook example of a structural metaphor. CPEC denotes policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and connecting people, in my opinion, World Bank and IMF are actual East India Company (companies) that dictate how to live and how to eat. Economic subjugation tools of the West are WTO, IMF, World Bank they have ruined economies of poor and developing countries
In a nutshell, the Indian war against CPEC also serves the US which is deadly against the Chinese Model of Development under the brand name of Belt and Road Initiative.
US considers BR as an economic, social, political and defense expansion of China that’s why the US with the helping hands of Indian media painting China as new imperialism and CPEC as new East India company.
To summarize I must say it is all matter of relating existing knowledge to the target knowledge, but the critical point is; if Pakistan is putting effort to counter these attacks, are we trying to build our own informed narrative, if yes than how?
By un-trained unqualified media or least bothered Think Tanks. Are we ready to get over with insignificant internal issues and grasp the bigger and larger picture; of course, if we are ready to face today’s world than we must work systematically.
By systematically, I mean understanding the propaganda is the first step which than can leads to a comprehensive counterattack. Time is dictating clearly that we cannot afford to be on the receiving end for long.