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Plenary Session 7

Role of Media in National Security | Plenary Session 7

The role of the media is mainly to rouse the social conscience of the public about the apparent miscarriages of justice and governance. On some occasions, the media has done a remarkable job, but there have been many occasions where the media has been found wanting. Television news in India, with far too many channels – Wikipedia lists the channels as per language and at last count there were more than a hundred – competes for viewership 24/7, and with the ‘Breaking News’ sensation, sets the pace for the print media. The distinction between facts, opinions, and speculation, which are the basics of any journalism course and taught all over the world, has blurred into irrelevance. A government needs the media to keep a check on its policies as a mirror and a scalpel; instead, if a nation has a blunt-axe media, then the society is not well served and the media would not be playing its role efficiently. In India this should be a matter of concern for right-minded citizens, if the information provided to them were impulsive, for then the opinion would also be ill considered.

Wednesday, 23 Sept 2020 (3.30 pm to 5.00 pm)

Animesh Dongare - The learned speaker clearly elaborated on the topic of this session. The speaker was of the opinion that national security and media are very entwined especially in this information revolution. Thus he was looking forward to the speakers so that they could elaborate upon the significance of media for national security.

Omkareshwar - The learned speaker spoke with command due to his long history of reporting and journalism. He was of the opinion that there was definitely a huge role that the media plays for national security. He quoted the recent rise of tensions between India and China and the fact that the media was very responsible for tying together the morale of the country and of boosting support for a sterner response to China. This process has been around as long as journalism has. He states that it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Anup Mudgal - The learned speaker believed absolutely of the integral link between the media and national security. However, he is of the opinion that as much as national security influences the media, the media also influences national security. He quotes his own example of when he was reporting on the UN and when he was reporting on the EU. The approaches were very different and he believes that the EU is working towards integration, something the media also supports. He then quotes the collapse of Yugoslavia and how the media aided in that but were still bit players for larger entities. He elaborated upon the intricacies of diplomacy and included it as another player between the media and national security that it influences and gets influenced in return.

Dilwar Singh - The learned speaker started by stating that we must understand what national security exactly is and what the media is. He then discussed the multiple ways in which the two are interlinked, but also spoke about how they are detrimental to each other. Again quitting the recent example of India China relations he explained that sometimes the media unwittingly revealed the position of the Indian army itself. But again, without the media, one could not know of what China was doing on our borders and we could not have formed a national consensus about it. He then speaks about the ideal way in which the media can be used to aid national security from the perspective of pre-conflict, conflict and post conflict.

Jaibans Singh - The learned speaker was of the opinion that the media and national security are indeed intermixed. Then he explained about propaganda and though propaganda has existed since roman times, nowadays it has become a refined process. He states that Germany started this trend, but today's its greatest applicator is China, where their state machinery works tirelessly to portray their own agenda for national security. This he believes is the advantage totalitarian states possess. Then he went on to elaborate upon the role of the media for not authoritarian states. He states that it was him who had started the trend of a dedicated defense journalist in India, where once it was not a separate entity. He believes that all democracies must have dedicated defense journalists as they best serve the nation by bringing forth issues of national security to the people of a nation for them to decide on the future course of action. Again, caution must be exercised to not fall under the influence of big business houses or political parties. National interest basically means just that, that should be enough incentive to hoist the profession itself.

Dr Satish Misra - The learned speaker was of the opinion that the entire link between the media and national security hinges on the quality of the journalists who are reporting on national security issues. He rues that in the present time even very senior journalists are not subject matter experts, rather they are concerned exclusively with TRPs. Matters as grave and sensitive such as national security must be handled by individuals who have a tremendous amount of knowledge on the subject. This is the only way that the media can impact national security. Everything else is basically a sham built towards an edification of TRPs. He believes that the very survival of media hinges on the quality of journalism and journalists which he finds missing today.

Sanjay Singh - The learned speaker stated that he was quite aghast at the level of unprofessionalism within the defense journalism community. He states that this is probably the most important role a journalist has since it concerns the entire nation. But it seems, in today’s context, that anyone is sent to cover the story with the sole criteria being sensationalization. Without that quality, no one is selected. He believes that this fallacy must end as it colours the imagination of all people who watch it and also aids the enemy by revealing information and content that is not meant to be revealed.

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