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India Shining – Lies, And
The PR Firms That Sell Them

By Raja Swamy

21 April, 2004

The BJP-NDA’s “India Shining” PR campaign is a project of the global PR giant ‘Grey Global Group’ ( The 7th largest PR firm in the world, Grey Global’s operations have earned notoriety in the United States on account of the activities of its subsidiary, APCO. The website documents APCO’s activities in support of such stalwarts as Philip Morris, the tobacco giant, the American Plastics Council, a lobbying group for the plastics industries (plastics are derivatives of petrochemicals), and more recently, in setting up a ‘task force’ for the “reconstruction” of Iraq – in other words, the cornering of lucrative contracts in an invaded third world country, for their US corporate clients. Members of the board on this ‘task force’ include political bigwigs like Steven Solarz, and Richard Allen, the former National Security Advisor under Ronald Reagan. Additionally, the CEO of APCO has ties with the fundamentalist Christian Coalition, an important supporter of the Bush administration (

What does this say about the nature of the BJP’s efforts to win this general election? First, it reveals the fact that the BJP has sought help from a corporation with an established track record of defending the indefensible. While the real state of India’s economy teeters on the brink of all out devastation for the vast majority of working people, particularly in rural areas (see for a devastating analysis of the real state of India’s economy), the BJP would like to project itself as the party that brought ‘prosperity’ to India: a classic inversion of reality! In order to do this, they have utilized all sorts of imagery and noise, as iconic representations of the BJP’s supposed ‘successes.’ Images of the artificially kneed, and rather tiresome personality of the Prime Minister, with his arm raised towards a glowing scenic background, are supposed to convey a sense of immaculate power and vision – an assertion neither borne out by facts on the ground, nor even remotely echoed in the contrary reality of grotesque Hitlerian salutes of Hindutva accompanying 5 years of fascistic violence, murder, and destruction.

Displaying greater loyalty to Hindutva, than to India, this Prime Minister and his cabinet of murderously anti-poor and anti-minority fascists, have repeatedly and brazenly assaulted the foundations of free India’s democratic institutions, its basis in the constitution, its heritage of pluralistic possibilities, despite all their flaws and deficiencies, and the human and civil rights of hundreds of millions of India’s Muslim and Christian citizens. Grey Global’s PR machinery is employed to mask this and present the Prime Minister as some sort of prophetic visionary perched atop the dizzy clouds of false achievements. While the loot taken from India has enabled western corporations and their domestic clients to make a literal killing at the cost of unemployment, malnourishment, and miserable starvation deaths throughout rural India, the managers of state find it appropriate to wave glossy images of contentment as if imagery and noise could mask the latter realities. It is an insult to the intelligence of any fair-minded human being, that the author and protagonist of the terrible genocide of Muslims in Gujarat, the fascistic Mr. Modi, pioneered the use of the grotesquely irrelevant term ‘feel good factor,’ while addressing hordes of Indian and NRI capitalists a few months ago ( Mr. Modi remains a warm host to capitalism, Indian and global – no condemnation from the U.S. government; Ambassador Blackwill, stated that he was “disturbed” while the massacres took place in 2002.

Secondly, the reliance of the BJP on Grey Global’s PR skills, reveals the extent to which the most egregious abandonment of the social development dreams of free India, goes hand in hand with a treacherous adherence to neoliberal led American imperialism. The BJP is firmly entrenched within a framework of loyalty to U.S. imperialism, and its primary beneficiaries, neoliberal capitalism. As a party that has gone beyond any other, to serve the interests of international (and domestic lackey) capitalism, the BJP is projected as the ‘favorite,’ by domestic and global corporate media. In addition, pro-Hindutva and neoliberal-friendly U.S. based outfits like the OFBJP (Overseas Friends of the BJP), have dispatched leaders and members to campaign for the BJP in India (! It is quite a travesty how the phrase “India shining” and various permutations of it such as “shining India” and “feel good factor” have dominated the corporate media, without any reference to the global PR corporations responsible for them.

The Public Relations industry itself has a fascinating history, superbly documented in Alex Carey’s “Taking the Risk out of Democracy” ( The importance of generating and mobilizing consent among the working class, towards the policies and interests of capitalism, has distinguished the United States for half a century, from standard forms of totalitarian control. The PR industry arose as a response of the ruling class, to the radicalization of the American working class in the early part of the twentieth century. Its growth and functioning drew admiration from no less a fascist totalitarian than Hitler, who while praising Allied propaganda techniques in World War 1, decried the crass incompetence of German propaganda as a factor in their defeat. This admiration and critique formed the basis for the renewed and much more effective assault for “hearts and minds” by the Nazi party after it came to power in 1933. As the former head of Hitler’s propaganda film department, Franz Hippler stated in an interview with Bill Moyers, propaganda relies on one important technique – simplification and repetition ( The U.S. PR industry now dominates a world in which ‘globalization’ is synonymous with the expansion of U.S. imperialist power and the interests of its corporate beneficiaries. It excels in setting up front organizations and manipulating the perception of corporate and government actions, in addition to selling products, brands and ideas.

Given this sordid history, it is not at all surprising that the fascistic BJP has turned to an American PR firm, which has an established track record of painting toxic plastics as good for infants and nursing mothers, opposition to giant tobacco corporations as unscientific, and the imperialistic plunder of Iraq as ‘reconstruction.’ In stark Orwellian terms, the BJP’s “India Shining” PR campaign is a fair equivalent of ‘poison is good for you’ style propaganda, whose roots, like the BJP’s own ideological roots, lie in a history of fascistic, totalitarian deception and genocidal thuggery. It goes without saying that beyond the “feeling” and beneath the “shine” lies the disturbing truth of ugly manipulation, in the shameless service of capitalist greed and imperialist domination, and in opposition to the true interests of the majority of India’s people, especially workers, peasants and all oppressed communities of India. The ‘CEO’ of Andhra Pradesh in response to farmer suicides in the countryside, once dispatched teams of psychiatrists: to alter the perception of the world among those responding in utter desperation to the cruel outcomes of the very policies he and his friends fervently promote. The BJP’s Grey Global Group “India Shining” project takes this venality to soaring new heights, through simplification and repetition of lies– and with a little help from their U.S. corporate friends. How appropriate: an imperialist corporation which treats lying to people like it were a professional science, is charged with representing the “shining” performance of the BJP led NDA government! Can things get more bizarrely blatant that this?