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Media and Internal Security Threat

 Throughout history, nation & states have faced security threats from both internal and external sources, but in modern times internal security complications poses greater threats especially when these are accentuated by hostile states. Many nations, like Yugoslavia, Sudan, Congo etc. have succumbed to them and many, like Yemen are facing survival threat.

Political destabilizations, violent internal conflicts, legitimacy crisis etc are some of the internal security threats to which South Asia is not an outlier. These have disintegrated nations like Pakistan in 1971 and some have been able to return from the brink like in Sri Lanka but all continue to face challenges.

What are different components of internal security and challenges faced by India?

If we define security as the maintaining territorial integrity and keeping peace and harmony within, than internal security automatically presupposes:

• The feeling of nationalism, brotherhood among all citizens because without these maintenance of integrity will be difficult. In the absence of this there are always chances of nation breaking into pieces.

•  Respect for laws, policies and institutions among the people and the capacity of the state to earn respect through policies which promote inclusive growth, ensure justice, equity and participation.

• Capabilities of the organs of the state like police, security forces, judiciary to keep faith of people intact, earn legitimacy and respond to the new emerging challenges like organized crime,

In spite of the efforts by the constitution makers to provide independent and credible institutions, political mechanism to tackle any kind of internal security problems India faces many of them:

• India is diverse and large country and in such situations differences are bound to arise. Many a times such differences are aggravated naturally and sometimes because of politics which create internal security challenges like communalism, Caste and ethnic violence etc.

• Sometimes unintended consequences of government policies or inefficiencies of governments may also create internal security challenges like left wing extremism, organized crime, illegal migration from Bangladesh etc.

• Other times the threats are posed by well organized crime syndicates whose main aim is just to run illegal, underground businesses but they attack the psyche of people eroding the credibility of state.

What is the role of media in internal security?

Media role in internal security can be analyzed from the prism of news, views and issues. How it presents them to the populace can help either in strengthening or weakening of the basics of internal security. In the globalized world it has to strike a balance between people's right to know on the one side and national security and social ethics on the other.

If we look from the perspective of issues media can play a very important role in improving internal security as it plays the role of information provider, information disseminator. It can mould the perception of both people and government, can lead to re-formulation of policies if they are wrong and can prevent negative outcomes which could have arisen.

Through its ground reporting it can warn of governments about the issues which can become security threat in future, like it can inform about the growing discontent in a particular area or group of people.

Role of Awareness Creation

·         It can disseminate information about the various programmes and policies that government has launched for vulnerable section and areas and thus creating a feeling of belongingness and thus creating a mass based shield against internal security threats.

·         It can educate people about the long term benefits of various initiatives by government as people many a times fail to see beyond what is visible immediately.

·         It can act a morale builder by showcasing the gains country has made in different spheres, economic, social, technological etc. and thus creating a sense of pride among people, various agencies. This sense of pride along helps in creating sense of nationalism, brotherhood if gains are equitably distributed.

·         It can help in countering propaganda and act as a tool to play information war. For example, it can counter the propaganda by Maoists, North-East insurgent groups by providing right facts and figures.

·         It can help in creating social cohesion by showing such programmes which shows inter-group cordial relations, rich history of peaceful Coexistence etc.

·         It can bring accountability among government institutions by highlighting lapses, atrocities committed by them or other lacunas in their operations. It helps in making institutions ready for any emergency situation

Regarding news reporting the media should know the difference between information, curiosity and the rumour. It has to strike a balance between giving instantaneous news and not acting as a tool in the hands of the anti-thetical elements by telecasting horrifying, gory images, live telecasting or divisive speeches. It should not act as an intelligence tool for terrorists by live telecasting operation details of security agencies.

How has Indian media played its role in internal security?

Media in India has played its role very responsibly most of the times, but it also has its share of lapses.

• It has helped in bringing out the correct information regarding issues of naxalism, the ineffectiveness of the policies pursued and thus helping in course correction. It has fought tooth and nail against policies like that of SalwaJudum, which might have long term repercussions on national integration.

• It has highlighted the issues of displacement, inequitable growth, rising inequalities, forcible acquisition of land and other resources etc, which if not handled may become security threats in long term.

•  Many a times it has brought out the reports of lapses in governments preparedness related to internal security and thus bringing accountability. In India media has played great role in highlighting the issues of human rights violation by security forces, absence of latest arms and technologies with police forces and thus creating a public opinion against such lapses.

• It has brought atrocities committed by security forces in light and course correction, which has helped in bringing people closer to governments as they feel that government care for them.

•  It has helped in building resilience against any kind of efforts by ISIS to spread roots in India by creating a popular opinion against it.

• It has helped by giving a space for the dis-heartened people to vent their anger. This alternative has helped in maintenance of law and order in great way.

But, in recent times because of proliferation of news channels and them pivalry with another for TRP instances of yellow journalism, dissemination of unverified news and one sided information by some unscrupulous news channels have emerged. Such actions of media have negative impact on long term internal security.

• The concept of breaking news have many a times detrimental effect on National Security.  Amplifying the fear factor through news reporting, live telecast of sensitive information are some of the concern areas here. For example, during the time of Mumbai terror attacks TV channels live telecasted operations by security forces. In recent Gurdaspur terrorist attack also same thing happened.

• The instances of playing too much with divisive issues, blowing news out of context have also surfaced in recent times. Seeking opinion of irresponsible individuals on sensitive issues may disrupt the social fabric of the country.

• This has also been aggravated by spread of social media which is taking the shape of public sourced media and also as a barometer of acceptance & popularity. This has made media houses dump objective reporting and playing to the tunes of masses who don't have knowledge of long term ill-effects of such things.

What should be done?

Media is an important tool of statecraft and ‘fourth pillar’ of democracy. Our constitution ensures freedom of speech and expression which also includes freedom of press. But, it should be kelp in mind that, this freedom must be exercised responsibly otherwise it can turn into a tool for creating disorder, confusion and mistrust. This in turn will bring media regulation by government in future, which will weaken the fourth pillar and democracy itself. The reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech must be treated as sacrosanct by media houses and must be self-adhered.

• The media houses must evolve their own code of ethics and self regulation mechanisms through which actions against those acting against the interest of the national security can be taken.

• Governments must also be proactive and must continuously provide immediate, accurate and reliable information so that public is not influenced by sensational and biased news reporting.

•  Media houses must also strengthen their local networks so that they can provide actual ground reports, can provide information in local languages because at present there exist a gap between local and national news which should be bridged.

•  With emergence of multiple sources of information the credibility of information is lost. This aspect must be taken care of because credibility is of paramount importance for media.

Conclusion

It is said that, media should do objective reporting without any objective but sometimes reporting with objective of strengthening of the National Integration can be carried. The example of role played by media in unification of Germany must be kept in mind and that should be the objective of the media, uniting the divided.

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