President and Mrs John F Kennedy smile at the crowds lining their motorcade route in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Minutes later the President was assassinated as his car passed through Dealey Plaza.
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Review: The Ultimate Goal by Vikram Sood – books reviews

304pp, 699 rupees; Harper collins

“The battle of narratives has never been as cruel as it is today, because real power does not come from the barrel of a gun, but from those who control the narrative,” says former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Vikram Sood . With these words, he delves into delineating how narratives are crucial to the “final goal” of any country, not only of domination, but also of not being dominated by another nation.

In his book, The ultimate goal Sood shows how nations build narratives. In a fascinating and comprehensive analysis of how countries improve their strength and position, the author frankly admits that narratives are not always based on truth, but explains why they must at least be plausible to create the desired perception.

Sood headed India’s external intelligence agency and knows how agencies like the US CIA and the Russian KGB contributed to controlling the narratives.

The book, in fact, begins with an interesting case study of the assassination of US President John F Kennedy in 1963 and talks about how the powerful conspired to construct a narrative that JFK had been shot from behind by a lone assassin while there was evidence. . even from a passerby, that the former president, in fact, had been shot from the front and from three directions.

Five years later, JFK’s brother Robert was assassinated. Like his brother, Robert also favored peace in Vietnam. Someone had written and executed a different narrative for the brothers. It was clear that there were powerful interests in the country that did not want John F Kennedy to continue as president and also did not want Robert Kennedy to be president, ”writes Sood. “The narratives are not the truth; rather, they push you to understand the truth in a particular way. They are never neutral or innocent; they are always strategic… It is very similar to advertising: it creates a brand, a dream and a need for the product. That is the ultimate goal of any global domain seeking power, “he adds.

A timely book, neatly divided into chapters that effortlessly narrate the stories of the United States, Russia, and China, also takes into account how China is dealing with criticism about how the deadly Corona virus, now ravaging the world, emanated from its soil. . The former spymaster explains how he is trying to damage control of a narrative that interferes with his geopolitical and economic goals and notes that the Corona crisis has deepened the dividing lines between China and the United States under Donald Trump; especially now that the United States is in the middle of an election.

The book will interest intelligence agencies around the world, but it will surely have a larger reading audience as well, as the narrative construction factory has a wide range of actors including the military, the media, the film industry. , the Church and the powerful corporate world that it is. closely linked to the governments of all countries.

Read it to learn how a narrative can become true through persuasion “something like a Coca-Cola ad, or through mind manipulation, as the American administration did in the run-up to the Iraq War in 2003 “. Sood writes: “Narratives are for self-justification; they are designed by the storyteller not only to tell his version in his own way, but also to tell his version in his own way. “You should know. He’s been in the spy ship business for decades and is now part of the Observer Research Foundation, a group of experts in public policies.

Where the book disappoints and leaves you yearning for more is when it finally reaches the India chapter. In the introduction, Sood teases the reader about how the West created the narrative of India from the time it ruled the world. He also says that the chapter “deals with how India now tries to answer the question: who are we and what is one India for all, no favors?”

Author Vikram Sood

Author Vikram Sood (Courtesy of the editor)

The answers, however, are not detailed through a case study of how any contemporary Indian government has tried to construct a “narrative” with the help of the media: print television or the Internet, its intelligence agencies or its technological and corporate worlds.

According to the author, “A premeditated disgust by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in the Indian government has added to a global narrative encouraged by negative perceptions appearing in the Indian press. The term ‘fascist’ spreads, but no critic of the government, however virulent, has been repressed.

Many would find this controversial and point to recent events, including the Bhima Koregaon investigation, the Delhi riots charge sheet, and the drowning of voices against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act.

This is an interesting book that shows the reader how governments, the entire world, and their intelligence agencies push narratives in their attempt to achieve the “ultimate goal” of domination.

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