At a time when the newly-formed Narendra Modi government in New Delhi is aggressively pushing for the use of social media platform to reach out to the public, the world's second largest army is finding itself in a spot as its headquarters has done the opposite – asked the soldiers to shun it.
On the lines of the US Army, a proposal was mooted to allow all commands of the Indian Army to use social media to project their achievements and disseminate information in the public. The issue was raised in the Army Commanders' Conference headed by the army chief, General Bikram Singh, in New Delhi last month. But the top brass at the army headquarters turned down the proposal of giving a 'free hand' to its army commanders to venture in the fast-growing field of social media.
During last year's Uttarakhand calamity, when the central command of the army had independently moved to use social media to project large-scale relief and rescue operation carried out the army units, the move had not gone well in the corridors of the army headquarters. Ultimately, it was asked to shut down.
Though the Indian Army has a Facebook page and a Twitter handle, which is maintained by the office of the additional director general (public information) headed by an officer of major general rank but all commands and units of army have to depend of AGD(PI)'s office for disseminating information to the public. And quite often, achievements of Commands and other units were not given adequate projections in the centralised social media section of the army.
"All commands wanted to have freedom to use social media to projects their achievements and to disseminate information in the public like the US Army, all commands of the Indian Army should also be given a free hand to use Facebook or Twitter accounts to reach out to the general public. To some extent it is necessary in the insurgency-prone areas like J&K,"an officer said.
Interestingly, IAF and Navy, where soldiers usually have higher academic qualifications, compared to army, prefer to avoid social media and do not have Facebook page or Twitter handle. Though Indian Navy created a Twitter handle to disseminate information, it later shut it.