The Saturday Book Review: The Ultimate Goal-A former R&AW Chief Deconstructs How Nations Construct Narratives

The Saturday Book Review: The Ultimate Goal-A former R&AW Chief Deconstructs How Nations Construct Narratives

The Saturday Book Review

Title: The Ultimate Goal-A former R&AW Chief Deconstructs How Nations Construct Narratives

Author: Vikram Sood

Publisher: Harper (2020)

ISBN: 978-93-5357-951-7

TNA Rating: ****

History, since time immemorial, has been witness to Perceptions ruling the roost. Creation of Perceptions have been an essential part of every countries arsenal, and have, successfully, cocooned truth and reality into the dark abyss of abstractness.

That narratives create perceptions ,and define and influence the future trajectories of countries is an established fact. Narratives are weapons of massive disinformation , and their use in creating disturbances in competing nations , has reached alarming proportions

The author Vikram Sood a career intelligence officer for thirty-one years , who retired after heading the R&AW ,explains ‘ the narrative’ and how the country’s ability to construct, sustain and control narratives, at home and abroad, enhances its strength and position. Intelligence agencies invariably play a critical role in this, an often indispensable tool of statecraft.

A ‘ narrative’ may not necessarily be based on truth, but it does need to be plausible, have a meaning and create a desired perception. During most of the twentieth century, intelligence agencies helped shape narratives favourable to their countries agendas through literature, history, drama, art, music and cinema. Today, social media has become crucial to manipulating, countering or disrupting narratives, with its ability to spread fake news and disinformation, and provoke reactions.

He goes on to say "Over time, we become the embodiment of our perceptions, prejudices, hates and dislikes as well as our own nationalisms that often border on narcissistic beliefs". Talking on China he continues “Meanwhile the coronavirus that continues to wreak havoc across the world, and is widely believed and accepted to have originated in China, has its own narrative. A well publicized and elaborate military exhibition of China’s preparedness and intentions across its borders, chiefly aimed at India……Both these acts seem to be part of a Chinese narrative……The battle of narratives has never been so grim as it is today, because real power comes not from the barrel of a gun but from those who control the narrative.”

The author takes the reader through a journey into the world of narratives. From defining narratives in the Geo-political context, to the powerful institutes of influence in the US, where the Rich and powerful from both the sides of the Atlantic congregate to decide the future of the world.

The celluloid world as a tool to convey impressions and influence the common citizens has been discussed in interesting detail. The role of the media, with quiet assistance from intelligence agencies, to create or prevent influences and biases too has been taken up.

The profitable military-industry , narratives on political correctness or their perils, and how the Russian and Chinese have created their narratives through their respective powerful intelligence agencies. The Corporate sector and the narratives spun by them to further their profitability and make inroads into markets have been delved upon.

How the West created a narrative for India and we unconsciously become a living part of that narrative He tries to answer questions: who are we, and what is an India for all , without favours The need for India to understand and build its own narrative , away from the influencers that strive to disrupt us

A very interesting book , which needs to go into the hands and libraries of all Bureaucrats ,intellectuals , nationalists and students following the trajectories of successful nations around the world.

In the words of Milan Kundera: "The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture , its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long that nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was… The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

(The author of this book review is a Lucknow-based businessman, Chairman, MSME Confederation of Micro, Small, Medium Enterprise UP and Co-Chairman PHD Chambers of Commerce and the Founder Chair of Confederation of Indian Industry-Young Indians.)

This Book Is Available @ Universal Booksellers

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