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Parliament vs Military

Parliament vs Military

April 23, 2012

During the recent Parliament vs Military cold war, India's media failed to identify the issues of national importance.

The recent parliament vs. military cold war in India took the nation by surprise. From corruption to lack of preparedness, the controversy around the defense ministry and General Vijay Kumar Singh unearthed some defense-related issues in gory detail.

It all started with an interview the army chief, General Vijay Kumar Singh gave to the media. He revealed that he was offered a bribe of Rupees 14 crore. Since parliament was in session, BJP picked up the issue immediately are created halla over it. Then the media broke all its previous records of unethical journalism in covering the series of events that followed. The army chief's confidential letter to the Prime Minister about serious shortfalls in ammunition was covered exclusively by almost every newspaper and news channel. The debates ‘organized’ by the media were interestingly, centered only around who leaked the letter and not on the contents of the letter. Our heroes, the ‘intellectual’ TV anchors repeatedly yelled on screen to create sensation.

Gone are the days when journalists believed that matters of national security must remain outside public debate. Gone are the times when during Cuban missile crisis, on the request of President Kennedy, the US media successfully kept the country from panic. After all, TRP is more important than the nation itself. And in this case, TRP is spelt t-r-e-a-c-h-e-r-y. In this case, TRP means becoming informants of our not-so-friendly neighbors.

In-spite of 24 hour coverage of ‘the issue’, what is really interesting is the way our ‘intellectual’ heroes failed in identifying any of the real problems the series of events posed.

No journalist questioned the superiority of bureaucracy over the military. No journalist questioned why, 65 years after independence, the defense ministry of India is still controlled by the civilian bureaucracy alone.

Even the top military professionals have no say in formulating India’s security policy. Why are even junior-level bureaucrats allowed to issue instructions to army headquarters? The belief, that greater responsibility to the military would encourage them to seize power from democratic leadership, has denied the Indian military its due position in policy making. The military is integral to forming defense policy in the US and UK. Have we ever heard of a General there, trying to seize power?

No journalist questioned the lack of long-term planning in Indian defense. Most countries plan on a minimum five-year basis. We, on the other hand, plan on a yearly basis, owing to our long flawed budgeting tradition. By the time we finalize on our purchase orders, new decisions are made, reversing the previous ones.

No journalist pointed out the issues a jawan has faced over the past few decades, or will face after the fiasco the media has caused. For some time, we have been lamenting the dwindling status of the Indian soldier in society. The respect and glory associated with soldiering as a noble profession is diminishing, while our society is increasingly being driven by materialism. The media has successfully planted the seed of suspicion about the loyalty of these selfless jawans in the minds of ordinary Indians.

If not to the nation, if not to the people of this country, if not to themselves, every journalist who failed to identify the real problems and address them, is answerable to each and every soldier of India who chooses service before self. The sensation hovering around a measly 14 crore will soon be forgotten. The media will forget General V K Singh even before his retirement. But the damage they have caused to the image and the morale of the jawans of India, is everlasting!

Photo credit: Christopher Macsurak 


  • Joseph James
    Joseph James
    23.04.12 04:40 PM
    You do really surprise me. How could honest reporting by media do any harm to the image and morale of the Jawans of India. The jawans must thank the media for their relentess focus on the murky goings on in the army. This will in the long run lead to the weeding out of the unsavory characters within the army. Long before the present blitzkrieg by the electronic media, Chitra and N Ram wrote a series of articles in the Hindu to expose the Bofors deal. Did this lead to a cleansing of the Augean stables in the army or to a lowering of morale of the Inian Jawans? Truth will not hurt anyone; concealment will.

    If the media had not given wide publicity to the General's claim that he was personally offered bribes, the Defence Minister would not have ordered an inquiry and gone after the culprits. After all, this matter had been brought to his notice a year and half ago. What did he do, apart from beating his forehead in exasperation. It is the Media exposure that forced him to take prompt action.

    If the reports are to be believed, every outgoing General before the present one had written to the PM before vacating office, calling attention to the inadequacies of the army. Was any action taken on their reports? Apparently no. They were dutifully filed. But this time, with the Media dragon breathing down its neck, the Government has no choice but to act on it.

    I don't think any Jawan would be bothered by the Media reports. Most of them were already aware of the lacunae highlighted in the General's letter. On the other hand, they will certainly be grateful to the media for having made the whole nation ponder over defence-preparedness.

    The veil of secrecy has not done any good to national security; there should be greater transparency in defence matters, nuclear programme etc. Otherwise, they will become hotbeds of corruption. I am sure Indian Media is mature enough not to compromise national security; in the recent exposures, their aim has only to highlight the cancer of corruption that is gnawing at the victuals of the Defence Forces. If, in the process, they succeed in raising the TRPs, so be it!
  • Jyoti Agarwal
    Jyoti Agarwal
    23.04.12 02:51 PM
    An excellent write-up. Its an agony how media is desperate to make news of almost anything and everything. In fact one of my friends once pointed out that Indian media is so desperate for news that every Tsunami, flood, earthquake, murder or scam is what makes them happy rather than sad.

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