LOPSIDED MEDIA COVERAGE of MILITARY MATTERS
I have before me the Sunday Edition of The Times of India (Sunday Times) [November 17, Pune Edition].
The top banner headline, covering almost two-thirds of the first page of the newspaper is devoted to the incomparable cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar, and rightly so, since he retired yesterday after a fantastic cricketing career and was conferred the nation’s highest civilian honour – The Bharat Ratna.
The rest of the first page is occupied by other main headlines pertaining to the weather in Pune, other miscellaneous news items, the News Digest column and an almost quarter-page colour advertisement.
Tucked away in an insignificant tiny slot, towards the bottom of Page 1, there is a brief news item comprising a few lines about the commissioning of Air Craft carrier INS Vikramaditya into the Indian Navy (The full report has been banished to page 9 of the newspaper).
It seems that the newspaper does not think this military event is of sufficiently high significance to merit a bigger headline or prominent place.
I noticed the same thing on TV yesterday where it was Sachin Tendulkar dominating the news all over throughout the day (and rightly so, for his spectacular achievements do deserve all the adulation).
But is it proper for the electronic media to almost ignore the news of INS Vikramaditya – I did not see any TV channel covering live the commissioning ceremony of the warship.
I am a fan of Sachin Tendulkar and he fully deserves the prominence given by the media for his magnificent contribution to the nation throughout his glorious cricketing career.
But is it fair to ignore an important military event like commissioning of an Aircraft Carrier which has a significant bearing on India’s defence capabilities?
I agree that in today’s world, as far as citizens and media are concerned, sportsmen are given much more importance than soldiers.
But tell me, God Forbid, if there is a war tomorrow – do citizens and media expect sportsmen to pick up their sporting gear (cricket bats, hockey sticks et al) and rush to the battlefield to fight the enemy?
By the way, I once saw on TV that Sachin Tendulkar was conferred the Honorary Rank of Group Captain in the Indian Air Force and I am sure he will agree that the citizens and media ought not to totally ignore the soldier, sailor and airman and they must not treat military news as insignificant.
It seems that today’s media in India is obsessed with cricket and politics.
As far as matters military are concerned, the media neither thoroughly covers them nor has in-depth knowledge of defence subjects.
The citizens too are not very interested in security matters, despite the fact that we have one of the largest armed forces in the world and spend a huge amount of money on defence.
I hope the media introspects on this and gives balanced coverage to news pertaining to military matters and the armed forces and the citizens too evince take more interest in defence issues.
As an afterthought, a question arose in my mind:
Eminent persons from almost all fields have been awarded the Bharat Ratna – Freedom Fighters, Politicians, Social Reformers, Academicians, Artists, Sportsmen, Scientists, Businessmen, persons from other fields too.
But has any eminent military personality been awarded the Bharat Ratna?