The PeaceWorks Human Rights Defenders Programme at Akshar : Day 6

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It was the last group’s turn to present their work in the propaganda assignment we began two classes ago. Having been busy with a host of extra curriculars, they had not had the chance to make a ‘negative’ propaganda assignment I was informed. Their presentation (image of poster below) was received unanimously with quiet approval and did not spark off debate like the previous days’ had.



ccccSince I wanted to encourage the students to dig a little further and ‘read’ the poster more closely, I decided to nitpick—why were the figures bordering the poster black and white — what did the poster-makers mean for it to imply, what does ‘equitable distribution’ mean, how can wealth, opportunity and power be distributed equitably in society, who has the power to do so, why is the ‘Equal Pay for Equal Work’ segment accompanied by the image that it is? These questions helped to allow inroads into a more nuanced discussion than what the poster’s presentation had initially permitted, forcing the students to think and articulate, some times even thoughts that were half-formed.


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ccccWhile I think the propaganda assignment, to some extent at least, helped the students immerse in the whole process of creating propaganda for a cause they believed was ‘positive’/ ‘negative’, it seemed relevant to (i) outline that advertisement and propaganda are not synonymous with each other, and (ii) to steer the discussion on propaganda towards its role in indoctrination. In light of this, I played them a short clip from The World Before Her — a documentary tracing the lives of two girls from contemporary India. The students watched with more attention than they  paid in the entire course of this programme at Akshar. The clip closed to a silence that lasted longer than a minute. I asked the students to share with me what struck them about what they had just seen. While a couple of students initially expressed some shock at the conviction with which both Prachi and her father asserted their beliefs, other students joined in with their views on how conditioning works—fertile ground for me to turn this towards exploring the kinds of socio-political factors that strengthen such conditioning, the nature of such conditioning, one’s agency in being conditioned and what factors determine the degree of said agency, among other things.