After the Indian Army efficiently carried out surgical strikes on terrorists camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), people in India congratulated the army and the central government for finally giving an appropriate response to Pakistan after the Uri terror attack.
And with good reason. The fact that the Indian Army personnel were able to destroy terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control without any casualty is truly admirable. Equally admirable was the decision of the Modi government to give a green signal to a proportionate response to the Uri attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed.
However, taking advantage of this situation, companies like MobiKwik, Burger Singh on Thursday announced special offers and discounts on their products.
Delhi-based food joint Burger Singh announced a 20 percent discount on its products.
Moreover, part of the coupon code in the offer was ‘fpak’, which again shows how Burger Singh was capitalising on hatred among sections of people in India.
MobiKwik, online mobile recharge platform, offered 20 percent cashback with special code named “ISTSTRIKE”.
This shameless and flamboyant use of the anger among people to get more of their products sold obviously generated a lot of negative response on social media.
At the same time, this marketing strategy actually worked to some extent, though, as there were tweets supporting Burger Singh and MobiKwik also.
While there is no doubt about how wrong the decisions of Burger Singh and MobiKwik to use the Indian surgical strikes for a cheap marketing trick were, it is not at all surprising that this trick worked to some extent.
Because a large section of the Indian media has been doing something very similar to what Burger Singh and MobiKwik were doing. And when compared to the outrage generated against Burger Singh and MobiKwik, the outrage against the exaggeration and jingoism of the Indian media is negligible.
On Thursday night, a popular Hindi news channel showed an anchor praising the Indian Army while the words ‘Elaan-e-jung‘ (call for war) were written in huge bold letters on a screen behind him.
An anchor on another Hindi news channel, in the most poetic way he could, stated how Pakistan was now ‘shivering’ because of the brave act of the Indian army.
On another established English news channel, the anchor and panelists were actually sitting in a newsroom that was more reminiscent of something out of Dr Strangelove than a newsroom. The news anchor brandished a pointer to show locations on a map of India — a pointer that looked eerily similar to the sort used by senior military officers when plotting out a plan for war.
Even before the surgical strikes, there were discussions held by the news channel with the words ‘War Room’ flashing on a screen in the newsroom, perhaps trying to hilariously give us the impression that we were actually in a war room.
In other words, if Burger Singh and MobiKwik were using the surgical strikes to sell products, a large section of the Indian media was using the surgical strikes to sell news and grab eyeballs.
In fact, that section of the Indian media has been using hatred against Pakistan for its own profit long before the surgical strikes.
The warmongering on TV news channels on Thursday night took place despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi having stressed on the importance of strategic restraint in his Kozhikode speech. Modi clearly gave a message to the aggressive calls for war when he said that a war must instead be fought against poverty and illiteracy.
The surgical strikes were certainly a proper response after the Uri attack. But the Indian media, instead of celebrating a warped sense of gleeful one-upmanship against Pakistan, should have remembered and mourned the death of the Indian soldiers after the Uri attack.
After all, the Indian surgical strikes took place to avenge those deaths in the Uri attack, not to satiate some hunger for war against Pakistan.
As this blog post in The Times of India says, “The media is the first to go to war. Its hysterical pitch provokes the tone of the national discourse. Mothballed retired generals emerge from their closets to argue how the war must be fought. They are joined by the crackpots of different political parties, including the ruling BJP, who demand that all Pakistanis be beaten and thrown out of India even if they are here on perfectly valid visas issued by our own Government.”
The massive outrage against Burger Singh and MobiKwik is apt. But what we should realise is that a lot of us do not express outrage against something vastly more important.
When a TV news channel asks ‘burning’ questions which are literally on fire on our TV screens, it is insulting our intelligence. When a news channel tries to portray a newsroom like a war room, it is using our emotions for profit, just like Burger Singh and MobiKwik.
What Burger Singh and MobiKwik did was wrong, but what sections of the Indian media do to us every single day is much more wrong and deserves more of our outrage.
With inputs from PTI