Political Gaslighting in pandemic made it worst for those who suffered
Deception, manipulation, misinformation and denial, that’s all that we have seen in the pandemic. From seeing people dying to have their government with no data of their deaths to not having the absolute solidarity for their grief, people have seen the worst. With increased uncertainties offered by the pandemic and having variant and discrete ideas to having no information about who will address their grievances, political gaslighting in the pandemic has played the role in every manner. And with that being played, who happened to be the ones at loss are the ones who suffered. The ones who were misled. The ones who were on the pedestal of losses.
How has political gaslighting in the pandemic confused reality for people?
What is political gaslighting?
The term political gaslighting means any sort of deception or manipulation which is in an effort to convince a person to doubt their own understanding of reality and truth. In the political environment, the citizens of the country are made to have dubious understandings of what is true and what is false.
Amid the pandemic, there have been several incidents where the government happened to have no data on survivors of the pandemic. There has been an utter denial in government statements acknowledging people suffering in the pandemic. The government has managed to present no data for healthcare workers, no data on migrant workers in the first wave of the pandemic.
When we entered the new year, it was an absolutely identifiable fact that the number of COVID cases were subsequently increasing, the election campaigning, Kumbh Mela and the holy celebration were conducted. The turn of events was enough to give people a certain sense of false consciousness that the situation is normal despite the fact that the number of cases was peaking each day. There were also subtle disclaimers in the air stating “second wave nahi aayegi”.
While the political gaslighting has been persisting, the recent example where the government has made a statement that no one died due to oxygen shortage in the pandemic was utterly insensitive.
“I have seen people dying due to lack of oxygen from my eyes. My friends’ father was in absolutely bad condition. I wonder if there was any place where my friend didn’t look for a cylinder. I completely remember the day when she was posting constantly for an oxygen cylinder, and I can’t forget that the very next day of her hunt, her father passed away due to not getting oxygen. In such a situation, when the government says no one died due to a shortage of oxygen, we only know which data they are referring to. We only think of our suffering so invisible that they didn’t consider acknowledging it.” said Poonam.
Farah Latif, a communications specialist from George Washington University in the United States, wrote that the false and manipulative use of information with the goal to destabilise and disorient public opinion on political matters is what we can identify as political gaslighting.
If we talk about the state of employment in the country, there are hundreds and thousands of people who have faced repercussions and have become jobless. “Halfway done for the year but both growth and employment remain on a sticky wicket. Recently, IMF has downgraded India’s growth outlook from 12.5 per cent to 9.5 percent for this year’s fiscal 2021-22, deep damage appears to be visible on unemployment. The government, they are not denying the fact but the irony is- there is no data available on the same. If the government isn’t denying it they are neither addressing the issue. They aren’t working on solutions and ways to generate employment. Lack of opportunities has made people desperate for work. In fact, this has also led to exploitation where people are being underpaid.” says Parul talking about the plight of people who have not been getting employment that they deserve.
Political Gaslighting is a tool, a psychological manipulation. It is now certainly creating a false consciousness of everything being normal among those who have not faced the repercussions of an incident. And for those who have faced the problems, who have seen things from their eyes, who have found themselves in the position of distress, hopelessness, and despair, when they are gaslighted, they find themselves becoming invisible.