How (And Why) We Made The Narasimha Video

Getting a handle on 'fake news' and information pollution.

Ask the right question and you'll get the right answer. Define the problem correctly and you'll find the solution.

For several years now, I've been playing around with different metaphors to understand the 'fake news' situation, with a sense that we were not defining the problem in a way that would yield solutions.

When First Draft came up with 'Information Disorder' to describe our modern predicament, the voices in my head that were clamouring for a good 'definition' quietened down for a bit. Classifying the world of 'fake news' into 'misinformation', 'disinformation' and 'malformation' was neat, and I also appreciated that they preferred the term 'information disorder' to 'fake news'. (I now think 'information pollution' is an even better term.)

In 2017, during a Medianama event on Fake News, my friend and colleague Nasr ul Hadi spoke about the need for a portfolio of solutions. Something clicked into place, and I realised that I had been looking for a framework that would tie together all stakeholders in the fight against misinformation.

A few months later, I came up with what I called the #5pFramework:

This framework argues that the only way we could fight 'fake news' was by waging a war on several fronts simultaneously involving the five 'Ps': Publishers (the media), Platforms (technology companies), Policy (politicians, governments, think tanks), Psychology (behavioural sciences, university labs) and People (civil society and individuals).

This felt comprehensive. But I was always looking for a better metaphor.

Enter Lord Narasimha. The fierce half-lion, half-human is a god and an avatar of Vishnu's. As a child, I was fascinated by the figure, and I thought Narasimha's story worked as a great way to illustrate the problem of 'fake news', hate speech and polarization.

First, Narasimha appears as a unique solution to a unique problem. 'Fake news' too is a unique problem.

Second, Narasimha, like all Hindu gods is portrayed with several hands, with each hand holding a different 'weapon'. In the fight against 'fake news', we would need several 'hands'.

To know more, watch the video. We had a lot of fun making it. Our video editor (who prefers not to be named) said he spent several hours looking for depictions of Narasimha and his enemy, Hiranyakashipu. See what he found.

Catch the full interview on Youtube or click on the link here.

Updated On: 2020-12-17T11:17:24+05:30
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