For Your Eyes Only: The 15-point note journos received on how to spin the “mutual disengagement” at Galwan Valley

Or, why you didn't hear more of "the land grab by China” that is “unlikely to end well"

Once upon a time, Indira Gandhi called journalists “glorified stenographers”, but at least there was some dignity of labour in that epithet. For, stenos physically take notes of what is dictated to them, and then take the trouble to transcribe it.

The Narendra Modi age has robbed journalism of even that iota of respect. “Headline management” has made the ‘qwerty’ keyboard all but redundant and it looks like the keys a, c, x, v and command are all a journalist needs these days.

After the all-party meeting on June 19 on the border issue, the NDTV journalist Arvind Gunasekar tweeted a set of nine talking points that was circulated to the media by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) even when the meeting was underway.

The points—laudatory of the prime minister, critical of the Congress, and driving divisions in the Opposition—were to be attributed to unnamed “government sources”.

Written in the staccato language that fits a TV screen “chyron”, such talking points are usually sufficient for unthinking beat reporters to belt out uniform tweets merely by using their thumb, or four keys on their computers.

Highlight: Ctrl + a

Copy: Ctrl + c

Paste: Ctrl + v

But the job of “manufacture of consent”—of getting the media to sing a common tune that the image managers have composed, and to get the audience to believe in a common narrative—gets Quiet Easily Done.

Q.E.D.


Headline management” of this kind, designed to hegemonise the media producer’s mind, is an addictive habit and there is no getting off.

So, after yesterday’s claim of “mutual disengagement” by India and China at Galwan Valley after a phone call, senior journalists and editors on a WhatsApp group were sent a set of points, again attributable to “sources”.

“Modi Effect loud and clear.”

“Taming expansionist China is a herculean task but the right strategies and actions can yield to outstanding results.”

“China hasn’t pulled back. China has been pushed back, by a united nation led by a leader who led from the front.”

“Chinese had come to expect that India would be ‘soft’ going by past precedent. However, within days, they got to know they’re dealing with New India of Narendra Modi.” 

“PM has made it clear that this is an India that knows to embrace friends as well as to embargo adversaries.”

“By taking decisive military, economic and strategic moves, PM Modi has pushed back China.”

“On China, PM Modi was clear since day 1- India’s sovereignty will not be negotiable.” 

“From the EAM (external affairs minister) to the NSA (national security advisor), the full admin machinery was roped in to play their part. The network of Indian embassies and the diaspora was activated to convey India’s view point. After that, many American Congress leaders Senators like Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Eliot Engel, Ami Bera also spoke out against China’s antics and designs.” 

All options on the table were exercised

“PM Modi’s visit to Leh seems to be the final nail in the coffin.”

“It showed the world India will fight and overcome any challenge to its strategic interests.”

“His speech to the army personnel has boosted the morale of the forces, who are more than ready to deliver a severe blow to any expansionist eyes.”

“In the past, people have seen how in Doklam also PM Modi showed remarkable patience and strength.” 

“Even in case of the talks on One Belt, One Road initiative, PM Modi stood his ground and did not even send any representation worth talking about. This when other nations send high ranking representatives for the talks.”

“The notion of economic infallibility of China has received a tight slap with the PM’s clarion call of Aatmanirbhar Bharat.” 

Etcetera.


Little wonder, then, that the interpretation of analysts that the “mutual disengagement” is “nothing but a land grab by China”, that India is “giving credence to China's freshly minted claim to the entire Galwan Valley”, and this is “unlikely to end well for India” gets drowned out by the chorus.

So much so that even Subramanian Swamy makes sense once in a way.


Also readThe veterans who unmasked the Chinese incursions

Stop showing satellite images, TV editors get a nudge

A well-travelled story that goes from Rediff to Washington Post

Press Club of India tears into attack on Press Trust of India


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