Saturday, April 23, 2011


Lt Gen SA Hasnain recently took over as the GOC of 15 Corps and even before he could fly the Corps flag on the bonnet of his vehicle, the print media got a bee in its bonnet.
Apparently the print media was very taken in by the fact that he was the first Muslim General to get command of the Corps in two decades. It is a fact, yes. But apparently this has set off a series of journalistic orgasms which do not look like abating anytime soon. It has spread to a pink papers and now to full page coverage, and it may eventually reach a climax with some magazine devoting several pages to the phenomenon.
All these publications who harp on the Corps Commanders religious identity as their news peg do not waste any time to get on to his professional accomplishments as soon as they throw the first fact on the face of their readers. But unfortunately, all pails in face of the Muslim-Kashmir-General combination vomitted at the very outset. And this is doubly unfortunate for the General who is a outstanding soldier whose military career has not flourished just because he commanded a Brigade or a Division in the valley.

Is all this propaganda (yes, it is propaganda) going to help in the Army's role in the valley? The lovers of the first-Muslim-General-propoganda-campaign feel yes. On ground, it will be difficult to quantify. Lt Gen Hasnain is going about doing his job in a dispassionate manner, like he did in his previous assignments in the troubled region. He is not holding on to his religious identity just because he is the GOC of 15 Corps, just as one would expect a soldier of the Indian Army to do.

So is it just the sentiments of some journalists and pseudo-journalists or is there a larger game plan behind it? I would hesitate to call it a game plan but then there definitely seems to be a purpose behind it, mis-interpreted.

The fact that the Army is tacitly supporting such religion-based coverage is obvious because they have not objected to it. The sad institution called ADGPI would have been snapping at the heels of journalists had they felt that this was something which the Army really does not care having written about. But the fact that no letters to the Editor have appeared in the newspapers makes it apparent that they are OK with it. And in certain instances, it even appears that they might have given a encouraging nod for such coverage. Lt Gen Hasnain has done a good job in the past without all this stuff being written about him and by all indications he will do well in his present assignment too, even if the print media decides to clap their hands in merriment because he is a Muslim.

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