ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Univocal Political Symbolism


A rguably, public figures in the present Indian context seem to be using symbolic artefacts such as lamps and metal plates as the means to effectively communicate the complex idea of unity or solidarity in a simple fashion. The symbols when used for mass mobilisation have always acquired a political character. Thus, the symbolic use of artefacts, such as khadi or salt by M K Gandhi and symbols of lamps in Buddhism by B R Ambedkar, was aimed at energising the mass struggle for political freedom in the first case and social one in the second. Different modes of symbolism used by both the thinkers, however, projected a unified meaning: freedom. Thus, the symbols in a historical sense had acquired a multivocal character as a successful mode of communication of complex meanings.

Univocal symbolism, on the other hand, involves at least two dimensions. First, in such symbolism, the leaders of the people as well as the state are privileged to frame, for example, the COVID-19 crisis in preferred ways of selecting the symbols (lamps and metal plates) and its timing (at 9 pm for 9 minutes). Second, symbols, in an univocal framework, carry with them a single meaning to be accepted by every member of the community or citizenry. Thus, symbolism, which involved the act of clapping or banging plates adopted by the Prime Minister, was intended to carry the meaning of solidarity with those medical personnel who are actually fighting COVID-19 in the field.

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Updated On : 20th May, 2020
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