Defense Against Defence Propaganda?

Death Machines. Taken by the author at an Army base.

Death Machines. Taken by the author at an Army base.

It is God’s duty to forgive the enemies, but it’s our duty to convene a meeting between the two

Note: I am no intellectual, I am merely sharing an experience and my musings on the same with a neutral audience.

I sat through a discussion consisting of intellectual elites and of course, the regulars. Some were enthusiastic, some trying too hard to make jokes and most were just zoned out. It was quite a set up and I, running a fever, was only waiting for it to get over.

It began post a presentation on the various achievements of the Indian Armed Forces; while the oration was sloppy, it was cleverly accompanied by two short documentaries highlighting the progress made by the various wings in the past few decades. With (for lack of a better word) badass visuals of warships, fighter jets and tanks accompanied by a high tempo soundtrack, it was a great watch. What nobody will talk of is how most of the data provided flew right above our heads as we were too busy watching missile launches and other advanced defence machines in action. But, wait, that’s not even the best part.

After the introduction, came the real reason why I even sat through the damn presentation instead of recuperating at home:

  • What is the government aiming to achieve releasing such videos for the layman to watch?
  • Is the government trying to manufacture consent?
  • Why is the government spending money trying to justify it’s defence spending?
  • Why would the government dramatize the video and try to ‘sell us the idea of nationalism and patriotic ideas’?

Sitting where I was, I couldn’t help but smile as I thought of these questions myself. The same was mistaken as me blushing over, well, romantic ideas of Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Understandably, I am not contributing to discussion, so it’s correctly assumed that I have no opinion and even better that I’m dreaming about Tom Cruise and his Ray Ban’s, right? Hey, no questions raised there.

Firstly, these videos aren’t specifically made for the public. They are mostly used in presentations in Parliament and other domains where decision-making is involved. There’s no particular channel on which they’re displayed, there’s no advertisements for the same and if you still don’t agree, watch the video, one is able to understand a very small portion of what’s being conveyed. Yes, they’re made available in public domain like ALL other central government departments, maybe? But no questions raised about the spending on Railways. Not even on the day the annual Railway Budget is announced. Because, just.

Secondly, why? It’s common knowledge that a majority of the public doesn’t really know about the workings of the defence and thus would question the spending. However, if you’re claiming to be smart enough to think of propaganda, why can’t you zoom out on the map and realize the importance of having a strong and equipped force? It’s only a percentage of the tax you pay anyway.

Thirdly, the question about ‘nationalism and patriotic ideas’ arises. One has to be extremely imaginative to come up with an answer for that, correct? Why would the government try to force the military, whose job is to protect the citizens and the physical borders of the country, to make you feel towards them? Isn’t that inherent considering the nature of their job vis-à-vis yours? Obviously, they’re guilty of stealing you of your money and creating expensive content you can make movies about every couple of years.

I’m not offering solutions; I actually wasn’t fantasizing about Tom Cruise but was just marveling at the importance being given to this topic over a whole lot more that I regard as a contemporary issue.

But, what the hell, thank you, Noam Chomsky.

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