The Army has been the favourite punching bag for the media lately. From dishing out ‘expert advise’ on how the army should handle the Doklam crisis to hailing terrorists as rebels, media leaves no stone unturned in denigrating and disrespecting the armed forces.
However, India Today has recently gone a step ahead. In their new magazine cover titled ‘The Army Is Broke’, the magazine has run a morphed photograph of an Army general with medals and regimental insignia. The image shows the Army General showing his empty pockets and the sword hanging on his side been torn out.
The photo also has an eerie resemblance former Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag. The attempt to show a decorated army officer as broke and depicting turned out pockets of the uniform was objected to by the Indian Army.
Morphed photograph as cover photo in #IndiaToday for the week ending 14 May 2018 has deeply hurt sentiments of veterans and serving soldiers. Concerns have been conveyed and response of #IndiaToday has been requested. pic.twitter.com/f28u1Zchva
— ADG PI – INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) May 8, 2018
The Indian Army’s official Twitter handle has stated that the cover has deeply hurt the sentiments of veterans and serving soldiers and they have conveyed the same to the concerned people at India Today. It also added that a response to the magazine is being awaited.
The social media too did not take the cover photo well. Several people have condemned the cover image and called out the magazine’s attempt to insult the soldiers.
Once again; @IndiaToday shows that it will cross any boundaries of ethics to sell a few more copies
The latest cover page illustration about @adgpi is in bad taste.
Sharing with tweeple India Today’s one more example of bad taste illustrations pic.twitter.com/85PR9do1cT
— Manjinder S Sirsa (@mssirsa) May 8, 2018
There were people who tried to defend the cover and criticise the Army’s response to the cover. There were some who suggested that the Army’s reaction was uncalled for and some even went as far as to call it a ‘political response’. Twitter users saw through the irony and were quick to claim that to claim the Army’s reaction as politically motivated was itself a politicisation of the issue.
Exhibit A in ‘being fair’ – Starts with ‘To be fair to the Army’ and goes onto say the Army has become politicised.
So, I can say, to be fair to Mr. Sharma, this isn’t him tweeting. It is his political master tweeting through him.
But I won’t. https://t.co/zXYMBTLySY
— pracchannAstrin (@WordOfTheFree) May 8, 2018
There were many social media users arguing that the India Today cover is just a representative design and the Army is wrong to react to the cover in such manner. But the thing to be understood here is, for the Army, the uniform is a symbol of what they represent and pictures of a decorated officer turning out his empty pockets must have been hurtful to many. The Army has strict rules to adhere to when it comes to the uniform and it being a disciplined organisation, is expected to object to uniforms being used or rather misused for commercial gain.
A similar issue had come to light recently when an army veteran had objected to former actress Twinkle Khanna selling her husband’s costume in the Rustom movie as ‘Original Uniform’. Though the veteran’s choice of words was criticised by some people, it was a general opinion that selling a costume as ‘Uniform’ was not ok. While there might be differences of opinion on whether the Army is right to react or not, to term the reaction as ‘political’ is but a symbol of the mentality that views every issue from a political lens. The Uniform may seem to the rest of us as just a symbol, but for those who have served in the Army and faced the hardships, it is something they cannot take lightly.