I happened to attend a workshop on writing skills and we had the first session on report writing. I took part in it as it was compulsory. It was informed to us that reports contain more of facts and less of opinions. But during our sharing sessions, I became conscious of opinions hiding even within the narration of facts and the innumer
able general statements made by all. The danger of opinionated facts looms large, which for me is the greatest danger in present day India. It’s not strange as we live in a post-truth world where facts are given equal or less weightage than opinions.
The best way to change a country is to invest in the formation of young minds. The governments in India are engaged with the creation of curriculum and rewriting of the history of India to facilitate their needs. A common quote states, “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts”. The suggested opinions of some right wing authors are considered to be facts and history is replaced without an
y scientific analysis. Any contradictory opinion is scorned, as it affects the process of pre-meditated conversion of opinions to facts by some sections of the society. (Opposition to many historical dramas and fictional movies (not exclusive to India), to Delhi University girl commenting on peace with Pakistan,).
The Wikipedia defines Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics) as a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. Indian elections are no different. The concepts of Hindutva and Islamic terrorism are beneficial to the parties than development. The flowery language in opinions get more likes in social media than the monotonous language of development. Is the rhetoric to be measured only on the basis of effective delivery of the speeches?
There is always a question,” are there any true facts?” But it is equally clear that facts are not opinions. One could say that facts are not always true and all opinions needn’t be false. So we should be able to find a middle ground where objectivity is measured through subjectivity, but not sacrificed for it. As Indian culture is immersed in religiosity and associated emotions, it is very natural for us to fall into a trap of emotion-filled speeches and opinions rather than dry factual statements.
The intellectuals and the activists have a role to play i.e. to educate the public on distinctions between facts and opinions. I would surely encourage introduction of critical thinking skills in schools and in informal education for the general public via mass and social media. I conclude with the comment of Nissim Mannathukkaren in an article in ‘The Hindu” that secularism, socialism and anti-caste ideologies should try to create roots not only during elections, but also in between elections to challenge the progress of one-dimensional ideologies.