Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Home Opinions War isn't a video game: Let's not play with the national security

War isn’t a video game: Let’s not play with the national security

War is tough enough without cyber warriors and keyboard commandos making it tougher for the soldiers and decision makers. Remember that the next time you tweet or forward a Whatsapp message.

Kargil was the first war on the subcontinent beamed live into our living rooms via satellite, bringing in new dimensions to warfare. Near real time dissemination of information from the war zone made people hungry for more details, and faster. This led to a feeding frenzy amongst the video journalists, a rush to be closer to where the action was. War was turned into a voyeur sport. Each reporter also wanted to be the first with ‘breaking news’, even if it meant talking about operations still in progress, or even being planned. The unfortunate  consequence of this was leakage of information to the enemy, putting soldiers’ lives and success of impending operations at risk. The army hierarchy, with very little prior experience in dealing with television crews, and with more important things than ‘media management’ on their minds with a war on, probably didn’t even realise the damage being caused until much later.

Read also: Book reveals that Army was spooked by Barkha Dutt’s reporting in Kargil

Twenty years later, yet another dimension has been added to this milieu. Interactivity. The current situation, if it escalates into a full blown conflict, will be the first time war is streamed from and onto millions of smartphones and laptops. From being passive consumers of news, ordinary people have become active creators of opinion and influencers of sentiments. War has thus become a ‘participative sport’.

But there’s a catch – while pretty much of a long distance sport for the stimulus hungry netizens, it remains a matter of life and death for the soldiers, sailors and airmen who are at the forefront. And no, they aren’t computer generated video game characters who can re-spawn when you restart the game.

Social media has put tremendous power in your hands. The anonymity, coupled with instantaneous and wide reach afforded by social media platforms makes the potential for harm caused by injudicious exercise of this power unlimited. Shooting a video of a military convoy passing by and posting it online may make you feel cool – like you are a part of the country’s war efforts. But the same video can be accessed and analysed by the enemy, giving him valuable intelligence.

Read also: IT ministry asks Youtube to remove 11 videos of IAF wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman who is in Pakistan’s captivity

While most might act out of ignorance but no ill intent, it also enables some people to propagate their own agendas, which may be detrimental to national interests. Political biases, personal hatred and vested interests can be disguised as righteous concern and propagated in an attempt to pressurise the government into taking hasty decisions or the opposition into taking an injudicious stance.

If war does break out, you will be bombarded with ugliness. War has always been an ugly business, but only so for the direct participants. Those sitting in the comfort of their homes were shielded from the gory and exposed only to the glory. All that has changed. Social media will be used as a potent propaganda and psychological warfare tool by the enemy. The images of dead bodies, videos of prisoners of war will be circulated widely. War could be long drawn, with invariable highs and lows. You need to brace yourself for that. Maintain a balance between euphoria and despair – either won’t last long.

And remember, the enemy could be all around you in cyberspace. Misinformation propagated by pseudonymous and anonymous accounts, and even official accounts of the enemy, is par for the course. Rumours will abound. People around you will take pot shots at you. Just because you feel strongly for your country, there may be some who mock you to go and fight at the borders. Taking pot shots at fellow countrymen who’s opinion you may differ with isn’t going to help the war effort. The armed forces has all the people required, and winning the war is more important that winning an argument on social media.

Read also: Caught red-handed, Pakistanis spread fake news that the missile used to target Indian military assets does not belong to them

So if you do join the war as a long distance participant, make sure you’re fighting for the right side. You can do that by following some simple rules. First and foremost – trust your armed forces, and by extension, the government that’s acting on their advice. Now is not the time to make them toe the line YOU think is right. They have far more information than you – and all of it authentic. They also have a far better understanding of the situation and consequences of various decisions. And, at the end of the day, they also have to bear the burden of responsibility for their decisions.

Secondly, don’t make the enemy’s job easier by posting any information about our own forces – however innocuous it may seem to you. Don’t forward or share any information unless you are completely sure it is from an authentic source. Or better still – avoid forwarding anything for the time being. After all, your friends have access to the same sources that you do.

War is tough enough without cyber warriors and keyboard commandos making it tougher for the soldiers and decision makers. Remember that the next time you tweet or forward a Whatsapp message.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

rohitagarwalhttp://www.rohitagarwal.in
A former Army officer, now a Learning and Development consultant, Author of 'Delhi Durbar 1911 - The Complete Story', 'Riding the Raisina Tiger', 'Brave Men of War - Tales of Valour 1965', 'In the Line of Fire' and 'Academy - Bonded for Life'. He was also part of the panel  engaged by Ministry of Defence for writing official history of India's participation in First World War. Follow Rohit on Twitter @ragarwal

 

Related Articles

Trending now

Congress MP and head of AICC’s legal department appeared in MP HC to demand bail for Munawar Faruqui who insulted Hindu Gods: Details

Munawar Faruqui was represented at the Madhya Pradesh High Court by senior advocate Vivek Tankha. He is a Congress MP.

Prosenjit Chatterjee breaks his silence on the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose portrait controversy: Read what Bumba Da has to say

Bengali actor Prosenjit Chatterjee has broken his silence on the nonsensical controversy over the Netaji Bose portrait.

Ashoka University Assistant Professor mocks Lord Ram while trying to troll President of India over false accusations

Neelanjan Sircar works as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Ashoka University and also a also at the Centre for Policy Research.

‘Naive and far from truth, just like imaginary Nehruvian utopia’: Read why veterans of Indian Armed Forces want Rahul Gandhi to apologise

Veterans of the Indian Armed Forced have condemned the recent statement by former Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

A Maulvi’s job is to teach religion, education of students is the govt’s responsibility: Himanta Biswa Sarma on madarsas

Answering to Badruddin Ajmal's allegations, Himanta Biswa Sarma stated that Hindus do not attack Mosques, it is Ajmal's own ancestors who had attacked and destroyed Hindu temples.

After getting offended over ‘Jai Shree Ram’ chants, Mamata Banerjee complains about being ‘teased’ in front of the Prime Minister

Mamata Banerjee was addressing a public rally in Hooghly's Pursura months ahead of state legislative assembly election

Recently Popular

Professor who translated Rahul Gandhi’s “don’t need army if farmers are strong” speech in Erode faints after the speech: Reports

Muhammed Imran, who translated Rahul Gandhi's speech at Erode, collapsed after interpreting the speech from English to Tamil

Is it actor Prosenjit Chatterjee in the portrait of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose inaugurated by President Kovind? A fact check

It was claimed that it was actor Prosenjit Chatterjee in the portrait of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose inaugurated by President Kovind.

‘I allow you housewives to have extra-marital affair with man of your choice’: Video of Mamata Banerjee’s ‘progressive’ speech goes viral

Mamata Banerjee says she is so "flexible" that she has given permission to housewives to have extra-marital affairs

Donating for construction of Ram Mandir? Beware of these fraud UPI IDs

Beware of fraudsters. UPI IDs which are similar to the real UPI ID for Ram Mandir donation have propped up.

Groping a minor’s breast without ‘skin contact’ not sexual assault: Details of the shocking Bombay High Court verdict

The Bombay High Court in a recent verdict has ruled that groping without skin-to-skin contact is not sexual assault.
- Advertisement -

 

Congress MP and head of AICC’s legal department appeared in MP HC to demand bail for Munawar Faruqui who insulted Hindu Gods: Details

Munawar Faruqui was represented at the Madhya Pradesh High Court by senior advocate Vivek Tankha. He is a Congress MP.

Arnab Goswami and his wife to make full financial disclosure, urge owners and editors of other media networks to do the same: Details

Arnab Goswami has announced he and his wife will make public all their financial details since they moved to Mumbai in 2004.

Almost 70 representatives from G7 nations pen letter to their leaders, urge them to take ‘allied action’ against China: Details

The G7 countries include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

‘Lot of similarities between current thinking of USA and our policies’: Pakistani Foreign Minister mourns loss of ‘shining secular India’

Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi has urged President Joe Biden to 'review' USA's ties with India.

After Republic Day, farmer protesters plan to disrupt the Budget session: Details

The farmer protesters would conduct a tractor rally in Delhi on Republic Day and march to Parliament during Budget Session.

Col Bikkumalla Santosh Babu who laid down his life in the Galwan valley clashes to be decorated with Maha Vir Chakra

Col Bikumalla Santosh Babu of the 16th Bihar Batallion had laid down his life in the Galwan Valley clash on June 16

Prosenjit Chatterjee breaks his silence on the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose portrait controversy: Read what Bumba Da has to say

Bengali actor Prosenjit Chatterjee has broken his silence on the nonsensical controversy over the Netaji Bose portrait.

‘The wind blowing from Punjab will burn Modi to ashes’: SP leader Abu Azmi instigates protestors to create mayhem

Abu Azmi made incendiary remarks at a protest staged in Mumbai in support of the ongoing farmers' protest. Sharad Pawar was present too.

Ashoka University Assistant Professor mocks Lord Ram while trying to troll President of India over false accusations

Neelanjan Sircar works as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Ashoka University and also a also at the Centre for Policy Research.

‘Naive and far from truth, just like imaginary Nehruvian utopia’: Read why veterans of Indian Armed Forces want Rahul Gandhi to apologise

Veterans of the Indian Armed Forced have condemned the recent statement by former Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
496,912FollowersFollow
22,900SubscribersSubscribe