- Information warfare, involving disinformation, lies, propaganda, and manipulation, has become a key aspect of modern conflict, especially in cyberspace.
- Information warfare is often used as part of soft power and includes propaganda, persuasion, confusion, and deception.
- Metadata, which summarizes basic information from publicly available data, plays a crucial role in information warfare.
- Hindus have faced difficulties in countering information warfare, and their lack of preparedness has serious consequences.
- Hindus need to understand the tools used in information warfare, such as propaganda, the hate pyramid, and the theory of projection, to anticipate and counter the tactics of their adversaries.
- Adapting to this changing landscape and controlling the narrative is essential for Hindus to defend their interests in the digital age.
In modern times, information has become the preferred currency of warfare. Indeed, since most of the world’s leading economies are nearly balanced in their armament capacities today, information remains the only source of arbitrage that helps a country, civilization, or culture dominate its rivals and stay ahead of the pack. While we have innocuously termed this weapon as just ‘information,’ in real life, it is more like disinformation, lies, propaganda, rumors, fake news, half-truths, etc. And ever since the battlefield shifted to cyberspace, information wars have morphed into undeclared or invisible campaigns contested entirely through algorithms, narratives, and manipulated media.
Technically, Information Warfare and Influence Operations may be defined as “the deliberate use of information on an adversary population to confuse, mislead, and ultimately influence the actions that the targeted population makes.” Information Warfare is a hostile activity, yet it does not constitute warfare in the conventional sense. It is part of soft power and includes propaganda, persuasion, confusion, and deception. As Sun Tzu says, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Information wars, too, take place without any kinetic violence and operate below any threshold of armed conflict. Unfortunately, though, in info warfare, there are no non-combatants; the entire adversary population becomes a legitimate target.
Metadata is the new oil
It all starts with metadata or ‘data about data,’ which summarizes basic information from publicly available data that can make tracking easier. Metadata is usually the silent weapon in this info war, and the dragnet surveillance media and social-media giants like Google, Facebook, etc. can surprisingly be an endless supply of such metadata to those who want to surreptitiously foment a disruption. However, not all information wars target civilians. For instance, ‘Operation Cupcake’ was launched by MI6 in 2011 to replace Al-Qaeda bomb-making instructions with cupcake recipes. When Al-Qaeda followers searched and went to download 67 pages of instructions for how to ‘Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom’ from ‘Inspire Magazine’ – Al-Qaeda’s first English language magazine, the terrorists were instead tracked and fed with a page of cake recipes.
Hindus are clueless Info-war victims
Indians – and Hindus, in particular – have always been tech-savvy and proficient with the most advanced technologies. Yet, when it comes to information warfare, they are most baffled, bewildered, and perplexed in their dissemination and response functions. One can understand them getting caught on the wrong foot in an odd case or rattled for a reaction sometimes. However, since this scenario has been recurring perennially and sequentially for a long time, it is evident that the fault lies somewhere within our psyche and has become a liability with serious consequences.
Take the case of the recent violence in Mewat (Haryana State, India), wherein the narrative was set as soon as the first piece of news came in, accusing the Hindu worshippers of provoking the jihadis into violence and suggesting that a crowd of holy devotees was responsible for the death of two Islamist rioters – all the while ignoring the fact that it was a pre-planned strategic pogrom that was meant to cleanse off all the remaining Hindus in the region through violent means. The Islamists’ rampant firing and stone pelting killed two guards and two devotees, trapping thousands of devotees for hours in a temple. Such was the wave of one-sided coverage on social media that even government ministers from the State of Haryana denigrated the Hindu devotees while ignoring the violence of Islamists.
And let’s not forget the Manipur violence where the administration’s effort to restrain the Christian Kuki militants was ignored. The Left ecosystem waited patiently for weeks for that one elusive video that depicted Hindus as perps and Christian Kuki women as victims before raising a media storm that shook the world and held India, hostage. Such was the force of the narrative that despite a counter-video showing Kuki women disrobing willingly to stop the Indian army from arresting the militants, the world shamed India and Hindus worldwide.
And it is not happening only in India. Remember how fake news was deployed by Pakistanis and Islamists in Leicester to generate the victimhood narrative while simultaneously unleashing violence on Hindus? Countless Hindu properties were burned, and in the end, fake cases were filed against Hindus for extremism. Even today, Leicester sits unsteady on a powder keg, waiting for the next round of info-war.
Where do Hindus go wrong?
The fault is somewhere within the Hindu quintessence wherein the Hindu community worldwide is still harboring some old foible or demerit within their DNA, which makes Hindus unable to predict, stop, and counter these information wars.
For starters, Hinduism is based on the concept of ‘dharma,’ and the keynote of ‘dharma’ is the distinction between good and evil. Naturally, the ancient Hindu society justified the preservation of the good at the cost of war. “However, unlike the Christian concept of ‘crusade’ or ‘bellum justissimum’ and its counterpart ‘Jihad’ in Islam, there is no justification in Hinduism for any war against foreigners or people of other faiths.” And since ‘dharma’ stands for safeguarding peace through law and order, the war in Hinduism is advocated only against evil – be it local or foreign. Then again, war can only be fought under the rules construed as a ‘dharma yuddha’ or a righteous war, ensuring that all warfare is formally conducted under a set of humane and fair rules. Unfortunately, info wars are neither fair nor overt. By the time Hindus duly respond with the truth, under their ‘Satyamev Jayate’ contextualization, the fake perception has already traversed several times around the globe, setting a hurtful narrative that barely gets countered in time, as the Hindu response has already missed the trending or viral news-cycle.
Further, the Left-liberal clique has adopted the same underlying principles as elucidated in the crusade or the news jihad of the Abrahamics and heaped mounds of shame on the Hindus, who are left struggling to put out the superficial fires while the core gets horribly burnt. Time after time, we have seen Hindu seers, various Hindu advocacy groups, and Hindu scholars struggling to tackle a manufactured sham of a narrative. In the meantime, the aggressors have already moved on to the next agitprop.
Evidently, the problems are manifold here. It may be that we are still feeling emasculated under the ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharmo’ yoke. Perhaps, but the problems of Hindus are much deeper than a simple emasculation. There is simply no framework available to the Hindus to help them anticipate, analyze, and avert such info-war skirmishes. At the same time, the Abrahamics and, subsequently, the Left-liberals have refined, updated, adapted, and perfected their game plan for this modern information warfare. The need of the hour is to understand their playbook first.
Anatomy of Information Warfare
For Hindus to understand their enemy, they would need to understand the entire gamut of mechanisms that the Abrahamics use to subjugate their enemies. Three essential and crucial tools come to mind immediately.
The first is ‘The Five Rules of Propaganda’, which have been used since Roman times to ensure Western monotheistic domination. Norman Davies has summarized them brilliantly in his path-breaking book, ‘Europe: A History.’
- Simplify – Reduce all data to a simple confrontation between ‘Good and Bad’ or ‘Friend and Foe.’
- Disfigure – Discredit the opposition by crude smears and parodies.
- Transfuse – Manipulate the consensus values of the target audience for one’s ends.
- Claim unanimity – Present one’s viewpoint as if it were the unanimous opinion of all right-thinking people: drawing the doubting individual into agreement by the appeal of star performers, social pressure, and ‘psychological contagion.’
- Orchestrate – Endlessly repeat the same message in different variations and combinations.
Every single aggression against the Hindus usually follows a combination of these rules. Even the California SB-403 Bill follows the same five rules of propaganda viz simplify, disfigure, transfuse, claim unanimity, and orchestrate, wherein an industrious micro-minority of American Hindus, who instead prefer to be left alone, have been unforgivingly demonized on caste. Ergo, for every set of preposterous claims from hereon, Hindus must weigh every statement from the enemy on this scale of five to determine what is real and fake and figure out their next step in the spin cycle.
Secondly, we must understand the “Allport’s Scale of Prejudice” – the pyramid of hate that goes from Level 1 to Level 5. At Level 1, we have ‘Acts of Bias’ that account for hate speech, ethnic jokes, and insensitive remarks – think of all the gomutra taunts, anti-Brahmin jokes, etc. At Level 2, we get ‘Acts of Prejudice’ that include social exclusion, dehumanization, etc. – this begets stuff like the Left rubbishing Godhra train victims. At Level 3, we get ‘Acts of Discrimination’ that call for denying opportunities and services – like disallowing ‘The Kerala Files’ to be released in West Bengal. At 4, we have ‘Acts of Violence’ that call for vandalization and direct attacks – think of the recent Mewat pogrom against the Hindu pilgrims. All of this leads to 5, where we have ‘Genocide’ – think of all Hindu extermination from Pakistan, Kashmir, or North East. If we go back and place every ugly deed triggered by the info-wars of the Abrahamics in this hate pyramid, we will be surprised to see how it all steadfastly leads to Hindu extermination.
Lastly and most importantly, we must understand their “Theory of Projection,” which entails taking all the unwanted emotions or traits you don’t like about yourself and attributing them to your enemy group. For instance, the Europeans who came from a class-driven society of lords and serfs branded Indians as casteists when the word ‘caste’ itself came from Portuguese, or the Islamist rioters of Leicester, blamed the local Hindus for being Islamaphobic.
These are the three broad tools that have been used against indigenous cultures for over 2000 years now, and the Hindus must be conscious of them before they fall prey to them again. Every regime change, every single genocide by the Abrahamics, and every single case of information warfare can be traced and explained via these three tools. Be it the Bengal famine, the Rwandan massacre, the latest regime-change wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, or the impending one in Iran. Be it the Leicester violence, the Manipur riots, the Mewat pogrom, or the SB-403 Bill – once the Hindus learn to map every single transgression against them on the enemy’s template, they will be able to anticipate their next move and probably even upstage them.
Is it all fair in love and Info-war?
Having established the ground rules of engagement to tackle the fallout of information warfare, many dharmic practicing Hindus might ask: Will it be fair to delink from the code of conduct our ancestors have so puritanically maintained? Wouldn’t we be stooping to the heinous level of our enemies? What about ‘Sarva Dharma Sambhav’?
And, what about the timeless principles of ‘dharma-yuddha’? Does it not make Hindus lesser people if they forgo the Sanatan code of ethics of war – even if it is just an info war on the Internet? Well, Chanakya begs to differ. The principles of ‘Dharma Yuddha’ are only for the battles against those who fight by the same rules. “Ever pragmatic, he laid down that if the enemy employed ‘Kuta Yuddha,’ the defender was also free to retort in kind. In RK Mookerji’s masterpiece, ‘Chandragupta Maurya,’ we have details of how every warrior in his military force was taught every form of warfare.” It’s high time the Hindus rediscover other forms of combat, especially now that their tormentor is hidden behind a firewall or in another enemy country, marshaling the ground troops online. Remember how the jihadis in Mewat were motivated towards violence by a YouTuber sitting in Pakistan?
Hindus cannot rest anymore by simply outsourcing their protection to the State. They need to move proactively, seize the initiative, and control the narrative from here on. Their enemies are not necessarily fomenting in only the hovels of Mewat; they are gnashing their teeth in the posh streets of Leicester and growling in the first-world ambiance of California, too.
The time to adapt is right here, right now. There may not be an ‘Art of Info War’ in print yet, but then there is Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’ who unfailingly reminds you, “To know your enemy, sometimes you must become the enemy.”
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 Davies, Norman. 2022. “The Five Rules of Propaganda.” Memod. https://new.memod.com/Lost%20Horizon/norman-davies-5-rules-of-propaganda-5325
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 Balakrishna, Sandeep. 2018. “The Hindu Code of War Ethics and the Quranic Concept of War.” The Dharma Dispatch. https://www.dharmadispatch.in/culture/the-hindu-code-of-war-ethics-and-jihad