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SOURCE: RAJESH AHUJA / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

A day before the 13th round of Corps Commander-level talks were to take place at the Moldo border point on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, Chinese microblogging website Weibo was flooded with fresh pictures and video of the clash that took place between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Galwan Valley last years, where exchange of detained troops was seen happening but showing only one side of reality largely for its domestic audience. Fresh PLA propaganda was unleashed as soon reports of India temporarily detained 200 PLA Troops in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh hit media reports and seems to have been done largely to negate the fresh setbacks to the domestic audience.

It has become a virtual ritual for the PLA to realize fresh videos and pictures that are often multiplied by its 50 cent Army on Weibo and Twitter just before Commander-level talks are to begin or when PLA suffers some level of setback like seen when the Indian Army took over Kailash range coming as an embarrassment to the PLA and it again resorted to propaganda pictures of the clash.

PLA high command recently has suffered due to frequent change of leadership that overlooks India’s Ladhak and Aksai Chin sectors. Faster rotation of troops in the sector across LAC also shows that troops have failed to climatize to the harsh region due to which it has been relying on propaganda to boost the morale of its troops and its people.

India on other hand has not only failed to counter false propaganda unleashed by the PLA but has failed to start its propaganda war that could embarrass PLA and CCP leadership. India after Balakot airstrikes and aerial dogfight that followed the next day came as a rude wake-up call to the Indian military planners where Pakistan was not only able to build a narrative that the airstrike was a complete failure but also did mega propaganda of shooting down two jets without providing evidence for the second jet claimed by them when in fact they had lost much superior jet in the clash.

Pakistani pilots became instant stars and darling of the Pakistani media that was further used for propaganda purposes where else Indian pilots along with the Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman were never allowed any access to the media to tell their side of the story thus ensuring Pakistani narrative multiplied where else Indian provided hard evidence of second jet going down in Pakistan occupied Kashmir took a back seat.

Indian military planners are still to wake up to the propaganda warfare that plays a crucial role in relying on the narrative in the both online and offline world. India has large Open-source intelligence (OSINT) community in the internet sphere that is waiting to be tapped and most of them are ready to work pro bono, unlike China and Pakistan that require dedicated Online IT cells that often work on some kind of remunerations deals.

Indian propaganda warfare will work if the Indian OSINT community is tapped and there is the proper channel from where the flow of information for propaganda and counter-propaganda narrative can be set. propaganda warfare is here to stay and it needs to be developed in India systematically or for every bloody nose our troops give to the enemy, they will ensure that the act of slap on the wrist is only talked about narrative since they have better propaganda machinery at hand.

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