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

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Significance of the Petitionary Genre


The worsening effects of the COVID-19 pandemic seem to have pushed political and popular expressions into a petitionary mode. In such a mode, unlike the legal petition driven by a procedure, a rhetorical performance is at play calling out for the ethical and moral capacity of both the state as well as the people in distress. In such a petitionary genre, the capacity of expression gets mediated by the force of moral appeal that entails the invigoration of the conscience, which, in turn, makes it necessary to put compassion before reason and apology before ideological arrogance. Thus, the state, on priority, needs to be compassionate in mobilising various resources, such as transport, food, and medicine, for the footslogging workers. An appeal as a moral force seeks to compel the state and political actors to shake off complacency and the sense of arrogance that is informed by both ideology and politics. Apology, thus, comes as a subtext of appeal.

There is a wider spectrum on which the word “appeal” seems to be operative. It has almost a paradigmatic range. Put differently, the word currently under reference finds its public expression at different levels with distinct meanings. For example, the appeal made by the spokesperson of the state to the people to observe social distancing or the appeal to migrant workers to stay wherever they are wherever they are addresses this issue at wider levels and is infused with the meaning. Such meaning suggests that the state is not fully equipped to control the situation and is unable to provide adequate help to the workers in distress. On the other side of the spectrum, the workers, farmers and television artists have been appealing to the government to provide the former with immediate help for fulfilling different but dire needs. For example, workers have been making repeated appeals for transportation. The belief and knowledge of these sections that the state has resources to provide immediate help to the former form the basis of their appeal. On yet another end of the spectrum, the industrialists—big and small—have been appealing to the central government for help. Apparently, such appeal may contain an “altruistic” meaning, which is to say that the interest of the workers are more important than private interests.

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Updated On : 24th May, 2020
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