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Pavlov’s Puppies

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Ivan Pavlov was a famous Russian Physiologist (as famous as a physiologist can be) who is primarily known for his work in Classical conditioning in general and Pavlovian conditioning in particular. Pavlovian conditioning had three major takeaways that have wide applications in consumer behavior.

He experimented with dogs where first he gave them food as an unconditioned stimulus (US) that resulted in the dog salivating which was an unconditioned response (UR).

Next, he used the sound of a Metronome as a neutral stimulus (NS) which in itself created no conditioned response in the dog.

Lastly, he used the sound of a Metronome and placed food in front of the dog, shortly after the metronome made the ‘clicking’ sound. After a few days of this repeated exercise, at the sound of the metronome clicking, the dog started to salivate, well before the food was actually presented. Here, the Metronome was the conditioned stimulus (CS) and the dog salivating was a conditioned response (CR).

The dog was conditioned to react in a certain way to a stimulus that does not warrant such a reaction. Marketing gurus and Ad-men have used this conditioned stimulus on their target market customers to generate a conditioned response from them that they don’t even know exists within them. Every marketing miracle of the 20th and 21st century has its foundation in the conditioning of young minds.

The greatest marketing miracle though has been that of the People’s Republic of China.

To understand this phenomenon properly, lets go back in time.

China and India’s relationship has been pretty stale considering the fact that their joint history of millennia has resulted in only one major war (1962). That was about to change when Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister arrived in China in 1954. Their talks resulted to be counter-productive for India with Mao Zedong (then Chinese premiere) being left terribly underwhelmed by Nehru’s meek and spineless persona.

John Garver, one of the foremost analysts of contemporary India-China relations, studied the meeting of the two influential men thoroughly across the 1950’s. Mao, according to Garver, was highly unimpressed by Nehru’s liberal, altruistic worldview and was convinced ‘Power flowed from the barrel of a gun.’ Both of these men were the focal point of their respective country’s collective conscience. This laid the foundation for the public perception in each country for the other.

Mao became a symbol of what all Chinese are like for a generation of Indians and Nehru became the symbol of what all Indian’s are like for a generation of Chinese. Thus, laying the groundwork for the greatest magic trick a country could pull on another.

In the aftermath of the 1962 war, whenever the Chinese have violated the LAC, the communist left leaning Indian media, has managed to convince India that China is too strong an enemy to face in case of an armed conflict. The only way to solve a border dispute with China is to stand down and have talks. Conflict with Pakistan was never viewed in the same prism (Maybe if the 1948 war had gone a different way, we might have been singing a different tune today; but that’s a debate for another day).

China though, we were always taught to fear. We became one of the puppies Ivan Pavlov performed his experiments on. This experiment however has been going on for almost 60 years.

The Indian media, which otherwise loves to keep harping on the sovereignty of nations and the sanctity of their borders, habitually chose to keep mum the multiple Chinese misadventures across the Indian eastern front from Aksai Chin to Arunachal Pradesh. The fact that historically, we have had spineless governments at the Centre never helped matters. V.K Krishna Menon shut down General K.S. Thimayya when the latter classified china to be a more dangerous neighbor than the troublesome Pakistan.

After the recent Chinese incursions in Galwan, our leftist media outlets were at it again, questioning the government, demoralizing the army and watering the deep-rooted seeds of fear that were planted in our minds, all those years ago.

Sunil Sharan from Times of India says, “Where is the need for India to keep poking China? India has just been elected to be a non-perma member of the UN Security Council. China didn’t object. Instead it said that it welcomed all new members. Indian media went ballistic in saying that China did not specifically mention India’s name. Really? You are in a war-like situation with China, and you expect them to welcome you with open arms.”

India poking China. The narrative is set, to back off from China or face grave consequences. If I changed the name from Sunil Sharan to Chung Li, the article would be more believable. But this is our reality, where an India ‘journalist’ on Chinese payroll can spew venom against his own country on Indian newspapers.

Inderjeet Parmar and Atul Bharadwaj from TheWire try to make a case for the USA to be a bigger threat in Asian waters than China violating Indian sovereignty is. They write, “Galwan Valley – the flashpoint of the recent clashes between the Indian army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China is close to Aksai Chin – is the same area that became a bone of contention between the two Asian nations during the 1962 war. The Modi government brought the area back into the discourse, making it contentious once again. With the Indian establishment’s renewed resolve to reclaim regions in China and Pakistan, security in the area became tense and has finally resulted in the brutal killings of soldiers.”

Reclaim regions in China and Pakistan? Gilgit Baltistan, POK, Aksai Chin are considered Indian territory. Reclamation of Aksai Chin and its securitization by way of the Daulat Baig Oldie air base is considered a problem for these fake narrative spinning masqueraders.

Indian propaganda outlets like the Wire, the Print, etcetera ran from pillar to post trying to discredit the number of Chinese casualties but reported exaggeratedly on the Indian casualties without official confirmation, as fact. As the first salvo in their psychological war on India, these Chinese funded news outlets were desperate to present a grave picture for the Indian side so as to justify their paychecks from China.

But something was different this time. At the center, we have a government that did not shy away from the possibility of a full-scale armed conflict with China. PM Modi mobilized the armed forces internally while bringing in his massive international diplomatic clout to the fore. He activated the ‘String of Pearls’ a series of naval bases acquired by India in the Indian Ocean to counter Chinese aggression in the South China Sea while not flinching domestically and mobilizing the Daulat Baig Oldie air base thus neutralizing the Chinese in Galwan.

While all this happened, the Border Road Organisation (BRO) was commissioned to complete the Kalapani-Lepulekh road, which gives India direct access into China. For the first time the Chinese were scared.

India’s tough stand across the LAC, naval mobilization in the Indian Ocean and the economic sanctions on Chinese interests within India resulted in a sharp u-turn on China’s part.

For the first time in 60 years, Pavlov’s puppies did not salivate at the sound of the metronome. We are slowly but steadily conditioning ourselves out of responding to conditioned stimuli. The magician’s mask had been stripped away so the world could see him for the snake oil salesman he is.

–Thanks AM for reminding me of Pavlov

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