The origin of the word “Propaganda” goes back to Athens in Greece. Before the First World War too, the term was regularly used (Casey, 1944). Propaganda can be defined as a method that involves persuasion, to ensure that the agenda of governments and people are achieved. This is done by the deliberate act of making false statements and giving wrong information (Bruck, & Manzaria, 2010).
Media is one of the most effective tools used for propaganda. In most cases, media, owned or supported by governments change what is real. For the interest of the government wrong messages are circulated, which people believe. For instance, the government of the United States spends millions for the Voice of America (VOC), which is a shortwave radio. The radio is referred as the ‘official’ spokesman of the US (Riddle, 2016).
In the media, propaganda is similar to manipulation of news. Journalists intentionally write and broadcast news, which say good things about a government or agency. Such things are done for different reasons. It can be done to make a government look effective and concerned about the people. It is also done to clean the bad-images of the government and agencies.
During propaganda, what is written in newspapers is information which are given by the one involved in the propaganda. Those who are behind the propaganda are able to do this by ensuring that journalists do not have contact with any other people. Sometimes, journalists are told that they will not get news if it is not written in favor of the propaganda makers. So stories with headlines telling good-things, which are not true come out. Due to the development of social media, using the media for propaganda has increased (Bruck, & Manzaria, 2010).
About the topic
On September, 7, 2014, the valley of Kashmir in India, saw the worst natural disaster in more than fifty years. The people suffered and there were chaos as over half a million people could not get out. 280 people died and the valley was devastated.
Apart from hospitals, schools and other buildings, the flood took away media houses also. Due to this the media in Kashmir could not do any kind of reporting. But media people from New Delhi came. They were supported by the Indian government, especially the Indian Army. As there were no one but the Army to depend on, all the reporting were done based on interviews of the Indian Army. This led to the spread of news about how good the Indian Army was (Mustafa, 2014).
What the international news wrote was different. For instance, media like BBC online, Al Jazeera, Reuters and the Financial Times, London, wrote about the work done by others and not just the Indian Army. Thus, it becomes clear that the Indian Army, by helping the Indian Journalists, used them as a propaganda machine to clear their image, which has been bad since the division of Kashmir. This incident shows the different ways used in propaganda and also the way media carry out the jobs as a propaganda machine.
After the British left India, in 1948, Kashmir was divided into two parts. One was Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir, and the other Pakistani-controlled part of Jammu and Kashmir. There is a big presence of Indian Army in Kashmir. By the beginning of 1990, people in Kashmir began to go against the Army. The Army reacted back. There were issues of human rights violation by the Army. The image of the Indian Army was not good. Due to this, the flood was a good opportunity for the Indian Army to use media as propaganda and clean their bad image (Khalid, 2016).
After the flood, it was mainly the Army that had access to everything. They had helicopters and boats. So reporters had to depend on them. Because of this, journalists were taken to places where Army was carrying relief works. Interviews were taken from the army. So, all stories that came out were from the army’s side. For instance, the army said that more than one hundred thousand people were rescued. Reporters had no ways to cross check (Bukhar, 2014).
One of the journalists, who were a Kashmiri, said that the Army had conditions. Not wanting to say his name, he told that the Army said “they would air lift,” him only if he made a story, “favouring the army and the air force and covering their relief and rescue efforts.” “I refused to go. Instead, I waded through the …. The majority of the media outlets from New Delhi were operating from the military airbase in Srinagar. They were embedded and did not shy away from openly running a public relations operation for the military. It seems they were reporting for the military, and not for the flood victims,” the journalist said (Khalid, 2016).
An analysis was done on reports of the Times of India (ToI) and New Delhi TV (NDTV). It found that coverage was done on behalf of the Indian government and armed forces. 57 percent of the ToI’s coverage was particularly on the army’s relief works. Both had ignored what was done by others, such as volunteers. Khalid (2016) says that the “Indian media coverage was also notably security-centric, possibly to create sympathy for the Indian army, typically viewed as an occupying force in the region.”
Mustafa (2014), wrote that stories just projecting the Army as heroes, have ignored people who were affected.
Photo stories, headlines, captions and even editorials written by the Indian papers spoke for the Army. All four photo stories on ToI’s online site had the armed forces, involved in rescue works. Headlines used were such as: “We salute Indian army,” “Without Indian army, J&K rescue efforts could not be possible (Khalid,2016).
When reports from local media came out 18 days after the flood, stories were different. It was not the Army only, but local population and volunteers who helped the people by establishing temporary houses and managing food (Qazi, 2014).
Similarly, international media’s reports were different and had interviews with the locals. Al Jazeera reported that thousands of people were still in flood areas even one week after the floods. News about people saying that Indian soldiers were first saving families of government officials and the rich came out.
The New York Times reported: “At a mosque where residents had set up a relief camp, Ghulam Hassan was coordinating efforts to feed 2,000 people. He said the volunteers were on their own”.
Qazmin, (2014) writes in The Financial Times: “Stories are relentlessly repeated of how Indian television stations have glorified the army, while troops have insulted Kashmiris by flinging down packets of out-of-date food from helicopters and ignored appeals for help from flood survivors on the upper floors of their homes.”
Propaganda, by using the media is examples where the true story is not told. The intention is political in most cases. Propaganda is also used to change the image of an organization. During the 2014 floods in Kashmir, India, the Indian Army found a golden opportunity to use the disaster mainly to show to the people and the world that they are not enemies of the Kashmir people. The Army provided support to media who wrote good stories about them helping the people. The media covered only stories based on Armed forces.
But reporting by the local and international media exposed intentions of the Indian Army and media agencies who had helped the Indian Army use the flood and relief measures as propaganda for their self-agenda.
- Aljazeera. (2014). Thousands still stranded in flood-hit Kashmir. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2014/09/thousands-still-stranded-flood-hit-kashmir-2014910982186136.html
- Bukhar, S. (2014, September 18). Volunteers wade into Kashmir floods to rescue thousands. BBC Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-29218301
- Bruck, J. & Manzaria, J. (2010). Media’s Use of Propaganda to Persuade People’s Attitude, Beliefs and Behaviors. War & Peace: Media and War. Retrieved from stanford.edu/class/e297c/war_peace/media/hpropaganda.html
- Casey, D, Ralph, (1944). What is Propaganda? School of Journalism, University of Minnesota. Retrieved from https://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/aha-history-and-archives/gi-roundtable-series/pamphlets/em-2-what-is-propaganda-(1944)
- Kazmin, A. (2014, September 7). Kashmir Flooding kills more than 150. The Financial Times Retrieved from https://www.ft.com/content/e5dc508a-364b-11e4-95d3-00144feabdc0
- Khalid, W. (2016), Media Propaganda and the Kashmir Dispute, University of Oxford. Retrieved from https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/research/files/Media%2520Propaganda%
- Mustafa, S. (2014, September 17).The Media and the floods in Kashmir, The Citizen. Retrieved from https://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/NewsDetail/index/1/602/THE-MEDIA-AND-THE-FLOODS-IN-JAMMU-AND-KASHMIR
- Qazi, W. (2014, September 19). Kashmir floods and the national media: A saga of shame and cynicism. Firstpost Retrieved from https://www.firstpost.com/india/kashmir-floods-and-the-national-media-a-saga-of-shame-and-cynicism-1720545.html
- Riddle, L, (2016). American Propaganda in World War II’ warhistoryonline.com. https://www.warhistoryonline.com/world-war-ii/american-propaganda-world-war-ii.html