Linguistic deception has been increasingly used against the interests of common people and environment protection, and to advance the interests of big business, on a vast scale although in subtle and veiled ways. The most common example of this is the way in which the word ‘reform’ has been used, particular in economic discourse. The general meaning of ‘reform’ is to improve an institution, system, practice etc. However in economic discourse this word has been increasingly and widely used to convey economic changes which mainly benefit big business interests ( any other benefits, if these exist at all, being incidental).
Having defined economic reforms in these terms, a battery of so-called experts is let loose, many of them front-persons of big business, yet claiming the high moral ground of reformers and pioneers of economic reforms, pretending to be unjustly treated when governments make their rare gesture of defending the interests of common people and environment.
Similarly the expression trade reforms is often used to justify the expansion of shrewd devices of new imperialism and multinational corporations while curbing the aspirations of local small farmers ad entrepreneurs. The words agricultural reforms are increasingly used to promote the expansion of big business and multinational company interests in farming and food sectors.
The words green revolution were used to give a good and attractive name to promote the control of a few rich countries and multinational companies on world farming and food system and to achieve an ever-increasing penetration of the rural areas by big business, foreign and local, all at the cost of sustainability and environment, the loss of hundreds of thousands of traditional crop varieties and cultivars, a genetic holocaust, and the loss or depletion of traditional wisdom of maybe a hundred generations or more associated with this. But all the dissenting voices were sought to be pushed aside by proclaiming a green revolution. Who can object to such nice words, even if they are used only to hide very harsh truths, and when big propaganda networks are there to promote the linguist mischief and deception?
Similarly the over-centralization of milk processing, decline of local processing, decline of traditional animal breeds, promotion of urban obesity at the cost of rural nutrition, plastic packaging at the cost of milk vendor, big companies at the cost of small dairy producer comes in the name of white revolution , while an assault on small fisherfolk and bio-diversity protective practices comes in the name of blue revolution.
The word liberalism was used initially to convey an openness to new ideas, a very positive trait, and later this got extended to convey a thinking which supports not just individual rights and civil liberties but also free enterprise in particular. So far so good, but increasingly it was the support of free enterprise which got more emphasis and this in turn got more associated with support of big business. And later by pre-fixing neo to it liberalism got associated more with a system of justifying plunder by big business and moving away from welfare responsibilities of state. Yet somehow the original highly positive connotation of liberalism survived, providing a strong linguist deception for a system of plunder and injustice.
In other languages the deception can be even harsher and sharper. In Hindi economic reform translated as aarthik sudhar creates a strong first impression in the mind of the reader that only something very good, some really nice improvement is being discussed, particularly when this sudhar is being supported by so many big names. And the translation of neo-liberalism as nav-udaaervaad takes the deception even further. After all . the Hindi reader feels, isn’t being udaar ( a connotation of not just being liberal but also being large-hearted ) intrinsically good, specially if it is an entire system of being udaar ( udaarvaad ) and on top of this new original thinking on this ( nav-udaarvaad)!
So many problems in proper understanding are being caused by linguist deception. Lies are being spread and truth is being hidden. It is high time this linguist deception should be challenged and opposed.
Bharat Dogra is a veteran journalist and author. His recent books include Earth Without Borders and Kathin Daur Mein Ummeed ( Hindi poetry).