Wednesday, May 15, 2013



The Indian Navy is in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Damaging news reports in the media about sex scandals, wife swapping, extra marital affairs and “stealing affections” in the navy are appearing at an alarming frequency.

These shocking news reports appear in all forms of the media – in newspapers, on TV and also on the Social Media, especially on Twitter – and they tarnish the good image of the navy.

This morning I read a most appalling headline in a newspaper:


Indian Express:

On Page 7 of today’s Pune Edition of The Times of India (15 May 2013) there is a sensational headline:

Another “Sex Scandal” hits Navy – Officer’s Wife Says He Forced Her To Get Sexually Involved With Colleagues

Last month, on 12 April 2013, there was another news report in The Times of India about a sex scandal in the Navy with the outrageous headline:

There have been other news items about naval officers indulging in “stealing affections of brother officers’ wives” and other such “conduct unbecoming of an officer”.

Such news items flood the print, electronic and internet media and are widely disseminated and discussed on the social media like Twitter.

During all this, the Navy Public Relations (PR) remains conspicuous by its silence.

Since the Navy does not tell its side of the story, people start believing whatever is reported in the media.

The absence of authentic information leads to speculation and rumours.

The image of the navy is being badly hit by frequent news reports of scandals and scams.

Perception matters.

A retired naval officer like me wonders: “What is happening in the Navy? Something seems to be terribly wrong, as there is no smoke without fire. Why are such acts of Moral Turpitude happening again and again in a disciplined force like the Navy? Such Sex Scandals indicate lack of discipline and absence of moral values among officers. Has the Naval Value System and Service Ethos been forgotten? Have Senior Officers have lost the Moral Authority to enforce the Naval Officers Code of Conduct and ensure Ethical Behaviour by Junior Officers?”

As I talk to fellow retired officers, we all agree that the high reputation of the navy is being severely damaged and the good image the navy once used to enjoy has been tarnished by these frequent news reports of sex scandals, scams and misdemeanours.

It is no use being in “Denial Mode” and burying your head in the sand like an ostrich.

The saying “Silence is Golden” does not apply to Public Relations (PR).


The Navy must tell its side of the story truthfully and it must do this with promptness and accuracy. 

Navy PR must engage with the media in order to ensure that the media reports such news in a balanced, fair, credible and transparent manner after hearing all sides of the story.

There is an urgent need for Navy PR to be more visible and articulate.

Navy Public Relations Officers (PRO) must appear on TV Channels promptly without delay the moment such news is reported and the PRO must give the Navy version of the incident.

This will help the truth to be established and obviate speculation, gossip and rumours.

There is a vital need for Navy PR to optimally utilize the Social Media, especially Twitter which is highly effective in disseminating news almost instantaneously.

Navy PROs must make their presence actively felt on Twitter.

Alertness in monitoring news of interest and prompt response on Twitter is a highly effective public relations strategy. This will help project the navy point of view effectively.

In today’s technology driven world, it does not pay dividends for an organization to be media-shy.

Being media-shy will not be beneficial to the Navy, especially as far as its reputation and image are concerned.

Today, the media is alert and quick to report any news.

There is a rat race in the media to be the first in reporting sensational “Breaking News”.

In addition to the print and electronic media, social media like Twitter, owing to instantaneous speed and tremendous reach, has a huge power to affect your reputation in a split second with devastating effect.

In these modern circumstances, whenever there is negative, scandalous or sensational media coverage, orthodox PR strategies like “being in Denial Mode” or “burying your head in the sand like an ostrich” or “mouthing inane platitudes” may be counterproductive and may result in tarnishing reputation of the navy.

As I said earlier, there is an imperative need for Navy PR to be speedy and more visible and articulate.

We hope that the Navy PR rejuvenates itself to achieve Synergistic Public Relations which will help uphold the good image of the Navy.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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