It’s was thirteen years ago, on this very day, that India attained victory in the Kargil War. The war that took place in 1999 between India and Pakistan came to an end today and is celebrated throughout the country as Kargil Vijay Diwas (Kargil Victory Day).
For people like me, the Kargil War was the only time that we saw and heard about warfare in real life (other times were in history books). Fortunately, I was very young when the war was being fought, leaving me with little memory of what happened.
So, for those of you who were equally young and remember little of the war, here is a recap.
Kargil was fought as a result of infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants on India’s side of the Line of Control. From May till July, the Indian Military Troops fought to regain possession of Kargil. Finally, on 26th July 1999, India regained control of all the positions that were on the southern and eastern side of the Line of Control and announced its victory of Kargil.
While Kargil is an extremely important period in India’s history (it was the first war between India and Pakistan since the war of 1971 and since both countries had become nuclear powers), it was also a turning point in Indian media.
While newspapers and television existed before Kargil, it was during the war that news channels branched into live coverage of the news. Doordarshan, NDTV, all the channels were showing live footage from the war zone in Kargil. One can distinctly remember Barkha Dutt covering the war on NDTV.
Many optimists argue that the media greatly helped India gain sympathy and diplomatic recognition for its position, but what started in Kargil with positive outcomes has now become an unshakeable disaster, one that provokes (not helps) a crisis.
Take the Guwahati molestation case for example. A recent investigation into the issue has shown that the reporter who filmed the entire incident was in fact responsible for prodding and encouraging the mob to molest the girl and teach her a lesson in public. Stripping a teenage girl in full public view to increase the TRP ratings of the channel was the aim of the reporter. This is what the media does now.
Footage of shelling, blasts and open fire were novel images during the war but today there are common sights. Television coverage of such events, especially bomb blasts, comes with a bowlful of the scorched faces of burn victims. The Bombay blasts are a clear example of this, of the gruesome reality that everyone must be exposed to (one doesn’t have a choice anymore) during a crisis. Twenty years ago, parents protected their children from such horrific images, but today’s children are accustomed to such gore and deadly reality.
They all say that every war leaves its mark. Lost lives, lost land, lost fortune, it’s all part of the bargain. But Kargil left another impact; one that has been there since then and will continue to be for years to come.
I guess live coverage and 24/7 television was our loss in the bargain; because no longer can one be blissfully oblivious of the disasters that are taking down the world.
Image Source [http://www.indiatalkies.com/images/artillery-gun13759g.jpg]