Freaking News: Making sense of the army revelations

30 Mar,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


Not surprisingly, the extraordinary revelations coming out of the army have consumed most of our days and nights. Kudos must go to DNA for first carrying the letter, which the army chief sent to the prime minister, about our lack of defence preparedness. Of course amidst all the high-decibel hot air about “high treason” and calls for sacking, we have as usual wandered into all kinds of marginal territories and taken a little time to put matters in perspective.


Arnab Goswami on Times Now felt great shock that former prime minister Deve Gowda’s son Kumaraswamy said that arms dealers had tried to approach his father through him. Twitter took this as a joke with someone pointing out that Deve Gowda probably never took up the offer because he was asleep at the time. The innocence of television – is it endearing, annoying or just so put on?


On NDTV and CNN-IBN, there were sometimes back to back discussions on the same subject with different anchors and guests. No great purpose was served by any of these – people who once wore uniforms claimed that the uniform-wearers were all purer than the driven snow, defence analyst Ajai Shukla said everyone always knew that India was badly prepared except probably Parliamentarians. Tarun Vijay of the BJP took great exception to being called ignorant but was told that he didn’t know what he was talking about for all his troubles. Brajesh Mishra felt that this government had spent too much money on development and “giving money to villages” and other unimportant stuff like that instead of presumably spending it all on national security. Luckily there was very little Chandan Mitra in all this.


It, therefore, took the newspapers to explain to us the inner workings of the Tatra-Vectra-BEML deal, the connection between Ural trucks and army chief VK Singh and the problems with defence procurement. To be fair to Mishra however, he also said that the armed forces wasted time testing equipment in the snow, desert, mountains, plains, wind, water and so on till everything had become obsolete. All former uniform-wearers blamed the bureaucracy for the same.


At the end of it all, you had to read the papers to find out who was who and who was doing what to who. This is a familiar pattern now and perhaps TV continues to be the saving grace for newspapers which have to make sense of the sound and fury. We now need some comprehensive stories on what appears to be some sort of internecine warfare within the army. It would also be good to know where the other service chiefs stand on all this.


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As a break from all this, was the BRICS summit which just concluded in Delhi. TV did focus on that as well but sometimes when the reporters babble on and on saying the same thing in 16 different ways to guarantee their 2 minutes of air time, your eyes just glaze over. The business channels, however, had more focused coverage, including interviews with industrialists and so on. BBC and CNN were also more interested in the summit than in our military mis-manoeuvres.


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A quick look at Pakistani papers this morning showed that in spite of all the fears of our former generals with moustaches quivering with rage, the Indian army’s lack of preparedness has not consumed them.


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The Hindu has written a very welcome editorial, if a little late, slamming spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for his ridiculous comment that government schools are breeding Naxals. Does the media usually treat them too kindly?


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The felicitation for Sachin Tendulkar by Mukesh Ambani provided the relief factor. TV, of course, pointed out that Bollywood attended in full force, leaving out the industrialists, politicians, artistes, literati and other movers and shakers in evidence. Where Bollywood ends, India ends I guess.


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One response to “Freaking News: Making sense of the army revelations”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am agree with you.

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