Monday, February 17, 2014

Arvind Kejriwal's Nocebo Mantra and why you can't ignore him!


It will be a big mistake to underestimate Arvind Kejriwal's impact on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections!

Ever since he started his political campaign, Arvind Kejriwal has been two steps ahead of his competition. Be it his innovative use of social media to reach young voters, banners on autos across Delhi city or the incessant radio campaign amongst other things - his political rivals were always playing catch-up and it showed in the results of the Delhi elections.

Forty nine days after assuming power as the Chief Minister of Delhi, after creating one ruckus after the other, being labeled as an anarchist where everyday governance turned into a prime time reality show, Arvind Kejriwal finally resigned from his post. Fallout of this: 

A major part of Arvind Kejriwal's educated fan base has deserted him but he still magically manages to find new admirers and fanatic followers.

Free from the burden of the CM's chair, Arvind Kejriwal now seems to be in a hurry to reach out to a wider pan India audience. Post his resignation, he has already starred in (pun intended) two prominent interviews by two top journalists of India, Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai, both incessantly promoting those interviews on Twitter ensuing loads of free publicity. Kejriwal cleverly seems to avoid Times Now though. And the best part, all the uncomfortable questions that people had for him, he let Barkha and Rajdeep ask on their shows and answered them without fear. Whether the answers were convincing or not, his conviction is all that seems to matter now.

He even did the unthinkable by sharing on Twitter a spoof video song made to ridicule him. The after effects of which are quite hilarious where the guys who made the video, out of utter shock or joy, tweeted that they will now vote for him. One more vote bank captured - the comics on Twitter, a very critical element that shapes public opinion online in a jiffy.

But, the real secret behind Arvind Kejriwal's unstoppable juggernaut is a simple secret ingredient - The Nocebo Mantra or Effect!

Most of you must have heard of the term 'placebo' - an ineffectual/fake medicine that is used to deceive the patient into thinking that it will cure him or her. Almost like magic, and guess what, it actually works many times. It's more or less an instrument of faith.

The Nocebo Effect is the exact opposite of that, where the recipients are told that bad things will happen to them while administering similar ineffective and fake medicines. And guess what, bad things actually happen to them, almost like black magic. It is a medically proven science and the video below will give you a perfect summary of the full impact of the Nocebo Effect. Watch it before you proceed further...


One does not have to carefully analyze or interpret any of Arvind Kejriwal's speeches or interviews to see where the Nocebo Effect comes into play. He has a clear black and white agenda - "they are bad", no, it is actually…"THEY ARE ALL BAD. I am good, I will clean up the system, you help me in cleaning it up. Who am I? A nobody. An ordinary citizen like you, but they, the politicians...THEY ARE ALL CORRUPT, they are looting our country, sab chor hai, sab brasth hai". These are obvious takeaways from any of his speeches and we don't need rocket science to understand that.

In Arvind Kejriwal's dictionary Mukesh Ambani is running the country and Reliance is looting the nation. Congress and BJP are the Ram Lakhan of corruption. The Delhi LG is an agent of Congress. Dynasty politics is dangerous. Your electricity bills are inflated, don't pay them. Don't do this. Don't do that.

Where is the proof for anything? None at all, at least until now.

Yet, lots of people believe him blindly. Part of the problem lies with the demographic he seems to target the most, the aam aadmis, the rickshawalas, the ones living in the slums, the frustrated middle class, the ones who believe in placebos (promised by earlier governments) and the ones who unknowingly are victims of the Nocebo Effect. Thanks to the huge economic disparity between them and the well to do, the aam aadmi believes he is being deprived and has every right to be anti establishment. And guess what - they are the ones who actually go out and vote.

The day Kejriwal announced his resignation at the AAP party office to a thunderous applause from his supporters, he peddled multiple lies, or one can say he hid the truth effectively. A live television audience was following his every word too. As soon as his speech was over Kiran Bedi who was live on NDTV at that point of time was asked to react - the expression on her face was that of disbelief. All she had to say was:

Who will match Arvind Kejriwal?
Who will tell the citizens of Delhi the truth?

Despite her support for the BJP openly, her anguish over how things were turning out with AAP was very visible. There is no easy way in which one can counter the Nocebo Effect - a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth they say, and AAP is reaping the full advantage of this.

History on the other hand is proving to be the single biggest enemy of both the Congress and the BJP. They have been in power earlier and no matter how much they try, they are the system and Arvind Kejriwal is hell bent on making everyone question the existing status quo. No matter how many big budget advertisement campaigns the Congress runs, or for that matter even if they have done some good work in the last 10 years, they are bound to become the biggest victims of this Nocebo Effect.

BJP also has been criticizing Congress, and vice versa. There is a partial Nocebo Effect in play there too. But when two biggies fight, that is routine. The real drama happens when the newcomer challenges the big guns. And we all know - the underdog usually has our support and more importantly - sympathy, which can translate into votes.

The coming two months will be an acid test for all the parties involved - Congress will be the worst hit by the Nocebo Effect. BJP will try to hold on to the momentum that Narendra Modi has so carefully built, and... 

AAP will continue to be the destructive force whose only agenda right now is to upset the apple cart. 

Whether we shall have any apples to eat after that is a subject for another day and another blog post.

Till then, cheers!!!
Kartik Dayanand Boddapati

This post also appeared on 'The Times Of India' website - click here to read the post as well as the passionate reactions the post evoked over there!  



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