Negative Media Coverage eroding Indian Army Image

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by Kunal Biswas, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

    May 26, 2010
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    Get the military a media plan

    The world’s fourth most powerful military worries that negative media coverage is eroding its image. For decades after 1947, even through the humiliating rout by the Chinese in 1962, India’s press placed the military on a pedestal. Foreign correspondents who rode into Dhaka with the Indian military in 1971 described our jawans fondly, even admiringly. This is no longer so. Now everyone is fair game for a brash, iconoclastic new breed of journalists and news organisations that operate in real time on digital media platforms. This is evident from the on-going feeding frenzy around one of the media’s own --- a newsmagazine editor who faces accusations of rape.

    The military community, both serving and retired, finds it hard to deal with this new environment. In forum after forum where I meet the military, officers bitterly criticise what they call an anti-national media and an ungrateful nation. They point to numerous poorly sourced news articles critical of the military to dismiss even legitimate criticism.

    Critics of the military reject this prickliness with the jibe that the services are stuck in a time warp and must understand that they too are subject to scrutiny. But that would be short sighted because self-esteem is a crucial driver that induces soldiers, sailors and airmen to function in professional situations where death is a real possibility.
    If militaries were compensated monetarily for the risks they encounter, employee costs would be unaffordable. The respect that a military is accorded, therefore, should be viewed as cost-free remuneration that drives soldiers to do what they do.

    One winter morning in the early 1980s, I was a young lieutenant motorcycling down from Ferozepur to Delhi for a weekend of leave. With my shiny new Yezdi (yes, there was once a mobike called that!) stalled by a tyre puncture, I was admiring the mustard crop in the fields around me when a passing farmer saw my uniform and stopped his tractor. He loaded my Yezdi on his trailer and took me to a tyre repair shop in Moga, the nearest town, waving aside my offer to pay him. The tyre-shop owner peremptorily told his other customers to wait, fetched me a steaming glass of milk, repaired my tyre and had me back on the road in 20 minutes. There was no question of payment --- it was only a puncture, he said. This public regard kept us functioning as soldiers, not the princely Rs 790/- that I was drawing each month.

    The truth is that the military knows very little about the world of journalism and has no plan in place to learn more. It has no filters to distinguish one news report from another --- credible from amateurish, one that needs rebuttal from one that should be ignored. Instead of a careful evaluation of reportage, what comes to the fore is an unstoppable urge --- rooted perhaps in military training --- to respond, and respond now. Even as officers respond to a news report with reflexive denials and inadequately crosschecked “facts”, the digitisation of the communications space permits others inside the organisation to pass on contradictory narratives. A senior television journalist who specialises in this tit-for-tat says that 70 per cent of the calls that he receives contradicting army statements come from the rank and file, not from officers.

    Nor does the army know when to be silent. In the recent intrusions in Keran, J&K, top generals appeared repeatedly before the media, promising a swift end to the operations. With no end in sight the conspiracy theories began, terming the intrusion “another Kargil”. Why did the army set deadlines when a simple statement could have sufficed --- that the army has the situation under control and would brief the media when operations were concluded?

    This readiness to comment on on-going operations is matched by an inexplicable need to cloak administrative matters in secrecy. Instead of letting journalists file “exclusives” and “exposes” on issues like rape by military men, there must be a website where administrative statistics are freely available? The generals seem unwilling to admit that 1.6 million soldiers, sailors and airmen represent a slice of society that will reflect the trends and ailments of the broader society they are drawn from.

    With survey after survey underlining that the military remains India’s most respected organisation in the eyes of the public, the generals must have the confidence to step back and unhurriedly prepare a media plan. In 2003-04, the army set up a new department to interface with the media --- the Army Liaison Cell. The ALC must now be manned by specialists, officers who have worked as journalists, who can conduct daily briefings, put mistakes and even debacles in perspective, and release harmless information that continues to be treated as secret.

    Source : Broadsword


    @Ray Sir & @Decklander Sir ..

    Your Views Please ..
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
  3. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

    Apr 11, 2010
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    Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
    Our media is to be blamed for the gain of TRP they sensationalise issue related to IA or any defence service. On the other hand IA leadership is also responsible for letting this happen.

    Recently the corruption/scams right from sukna land scam to Tatra truck issue has certainly damaged the image of IA. The V.K Singh issue also highlighted the corruption among the top rank leadership and ,manipulation in the promotion hierarchy related favoritism, which all are very serious issues.

    All these issue are very much evident therfore media only can not be blamed for the present IA image.
  4. angeldude13

    angeldude13 Lestat De Lioncourt Senior Member

    Dec 18, 2010
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    Indian media is total BS.
    I remember a news channel calling jf-17 as a french fighter plane.
    Media is corrupt to it's core and they'll do anything to get TRP.
    I've heard worse cases of rapes in america but american media didn't over hyped them and hence people around the world have not known about those cases.
    But on the other hand Indian media first over hyped the delhi gangrape case and when the court sentenced those mother effers capital punishment then these media mother effers to get more TRP started saying what is the mistake of these culprits parents.They have there only son in prison who will be hanged and bla bla bla.

    Indian media is the most sold out thing in the world :rage:
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    There are many reasons why the image has taken a beating.

    It is not the media or the country’s fault.

    To a large extent it is OUR fault.

    First of all, we want to be a People’s Army, as was what Nehru desired since he was in mortal fear that the Army might see thorough his façade.

    Of course, independent India required an Indian Army that was Indian, but it did not mean discarding the goodness that was there imbibed through history. The Chief of the Army was known as the C-in-C. He was the British Commanderin-Chief, who had been, in order of precedence, next only to the Viceroy and Governor-General of India.
    It was made into COAS. Fair enough. Now he is 12th in the Order of precedence even below the following:

    • Chief Justice of India,
    • Speaker of Lok Sabha,

    7 • Cabinet Ministers of the Union,
    • Chief Ministers of States (within their respective States),
    • Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission of India,
    • Former Prime Ministers,
    • Leaders of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha,
    • Holders of the Bharat Ratna.

    8 • Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and High Commissioners of Commonwealth countries accredited to India,
    • Chief Ministers of States (when outside their respective States),
    • Governors of States (when outside their respective States).

    9 • Judges of Supreme Court of India(Justices of India),
    • Chief Election Commissioner of India,
    • Comptroller and Auditor General of India,
    • Chairman Union Public Service Commission.
    • Chairman, National Green Tribunal (NGT)[2]

    10 • Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha,
    • Deputy Chief Ministers of States,
    • Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha,
    • Members of the Planning Commission,
    • Ministers of States of the Union.
    11 • Lieutenant Governors within their respective Union Territories,
    • Attorney General of India,
    • Cabinet Secretary.

    Indian order of precedence - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    While one understands, that certain democratically elected personnel require a higher precedence, it does not mean all and sundry. How is/are the Ambassadors, the Cabinet Secretary, Deputy Planning Commission, Chief Election Commissioner of India, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Chairman Union Public Service Commission, Chairman, National Green Tribunal (NGT),, Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha, Deputy Chief Ministers of States, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, Members of the Planning Commission, Ministers of States of the Union in anyway doing a greater job than the Chiefs of the Military?

    It must be remembered that teh Chiefs of the Military are responsible for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Nation. If they fail, then there is NO Nation. And if there is NO Nation, the whole lot of these people are redundant and jobless if not non citizens! ;)

    It appears, prima facie, a deliberate action to ensure that the military is downgraded. The reason is not far from it to be seen. Nehru had a mortification that the military would abandon the very democracy that had been won with such sacrifices. One cannot blame him since he was at the wrong end of the police baton many a time and hence a dislike for the uniformed classes, who in his infant democracy vision required to be ‘shown their place’. The police became servile, but the military maintained its dignified ‘independence’ of apolitical application, much to the dislike of Nehru and his man Friday, Krishna Menon.

    Both Krishna Menon and Nehru did everything to ensure that the military remained toothless and hence till 1962, it was debilitated into a ‘ceremonial army’, with the Ordnance Factory running overtime producing coffee machines! Not satisfied, they commenced the ‘politicising’ the Army, wherein side stepping others they had their chosen few given plum position, which they were hardly equipped to hold, like Lt Gen Kaul, being the CGS notwithstanding that he was a logistic man, an ASC officer! Then Kaul was sent to ‘throw out the Chinese’ and we know the result, which is history!
    This politicisation was not missed out by the rank and file and this possibly started the trend towards the real ‘People’s Army’ with no hold barred. But it was still only a trickle that did not really ruin the backbone of the military honesty.

    The real rot came and set in 1962.

    The regimentation held the Army still in good stead till 1962. Misdemeanours were not that cataclysmic as it is today wherein the image and prestige of the military is not what the military should project itself of.

    With the Army expanding, almost uncontrollably to meet the demands of 1962 and post 1962, the rapid influx of officers in the Emergency Commission stream caused a lower degree of morality to seep in since a large number were from subordinate rungs of officialdom. The elevation to the Officer cadre, and that, too, of the military (which till then had an aura), they did everything to ensure that they were retained in the Army. Having been in the lower civilian officialdom and organisational structure even of civilian organisation, they were conversant with the ‘ways’ how to curry favours. When these people were retained, they expected the same ‘ways’ to be applied to them by their subordinates. Hence, the degradation started.

    Corruption seeped in, in all forms, but were overlooked because of a false sense of izzat. One of ‘ways’ was to curry favours of the ‘people’s representatives’ to include the Ministers and even bureaucrats. Politics became a way within the Army. And the ball rolled on merrily.

    It might be added, that more than financial irregularity, the corruption took the form of promotions and postings and that made other realise what was the rules of the ‘jungle’.

    Further, the Brass has lost its spine. What could be worse an example to the society at large, to see soldiers lying on the platform, unshaven and dirty, in a camouflage uniform with a towel wrapped around the head and generally acting as a law to themselves? Isn’t it necessary to ensure that soldiers are instilled with the basic discipline of shaving and have pride in themselves to look neat and tidy and an example to the Nation? Who is to blame? The society? Should there not be a more streamlined and organised manner in which soldiers transit from place A to B, on duty or on leave, without lying on the platform like refugees from the Partition Days? Shouldn’t this be a priority for the Brass, than cosmetics like changing the salutation by Officers from ‘Good Morning’ to ‘Jai Hind’?

    Now that the media, especially the electronic media, has taken upon itself to be the ‘conscience’ of the nation, there is no way that the infirmities can be hidden from view.

    I feel that it is not the media or the civil society that is responsible for the lowering of the prestige, it is the military itself, which has sold its soul and lost its spine for personal aggrandisation .

    Lastly, one cannot blame the Civilian administration. For them, the task of national security, territorial integrity, and sovereignty of the Nation is taken to be a ‘done thing’ by the sentinels i.e. those in uniform. The unfortunate commentary is that due recognition is not paid to these ‘neither sentinels’, nor the Army brass has the spine to remind them that the military is not their paid retainers. And extraordinary is that the people who claim to be the ‘representatives of the People’, interestingly and many of them are but the worst example of citizenry, given their character qualities and even thievery and even being brigands .

    And we, of the military accept that!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
  6. Ankit Purohit

    Ankit Purohit Senior Member Senior Member

    Jun 20, 2012
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    Indian army Zindabaad ,Media sucks:angry:
  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    The media is wrong on many issues.

    Like that fool Shekar Gupta, who for some axe to grind, claimed sensationally that two units on routine exercise moving towards Delhi was aimed to topple the Govt and they were stopped by roadblocks by some non entities.

    Utter nonsense. If they (the units) were on that mission, then the roadblocks would have met the Maker!

    To imagine that such a fool of a man could exist as Shekhar Gupta and God gave this donkey the pen to write nonsense.

    To imagine, with a whole Republic Day contingent with the latest weaponry in place in Delhi, brigades in Delhi and a WHOLE division at Meerut, the Chief would mobilise just two units to topple the Govt!

    Can there be a bigger nincompoop that Shekar Gupat?

    Or did he have an axe to grind?

    We are aware of the paid media.

    He should come clean!

    He owes an apology to the Nation and to the military to suspect its loyalty to the Nation!

    If Shekar Gupta likes to write fiction and on coups, he should see the film 'Seven Days in May'!
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
  8. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Long walk Elite Member

    Feb 21, 2012
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    Inside a Cage
    I never follow any Indian Medias ..It's only for Bollywood and propaganda

    Rather more every media has a Strong Politics
  9. Twinblade

    Twinblade Senior Member Senior Member

    Dec 19, 2011
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    Ajai Shukla is spot on. The army's PR department is horrible.
  10. akash_iyer

    akash_iyer New Member

    Nov 27, 2013
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    I think the Indian Navy, Army and the Air Force, each need a new and active Public Relations department.

    The PR department should be responsible for all the communication that goes out from the Indian Army.

    The tarnished image of the Indian Army can only be removed overtime by effectively managing its image.

    The current spokespersons need better training and understanding of how and what to say, to whom to say and when to say things.

    With steps taken in this regard, the currently tattered image of the World's 4th powerful military can truly be overcome.

    Jai Hind!
    Kunal Biswas likes this.
  11. TrueSpirit1

    TrueSpirit1 The Nobody Banned

    Nov 5, 2013
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    What tarnished image, mate ?

    It's just that the moral fabric & value-system of our society has undergone a steep deterioration, over the years (read, Ray Sir's musings on this) while Information-Communication technologies have rendered media & common citizenry lot more aware of the works, as things stand/happen in the inner echelons of once-hallowed IA.

    IA brass as well as rank & file come from this very society, not some Martian eco-space. Hence, IA is no more on the same pedestal of yesteryear's.
    OneGrimPilgrim and Kunal Biswas like this.

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