Why study proving BSF serves quality food to jawans is a wake-up call for detractors

Sanjiv Krishan Sood
Sanjiv Krishan SoodApr 08, 2018 | 15:25

Why study proving BSF serves quality food to jawans is a wake-up call for detractors

Faced with questions over the quality of food provided to jawans, the Border Security Force and ministry of home affairs commissioned an assessment by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).


The DRDO report indicates that the food served to jawans provides energy intake in the range 3,450 kilocalories (+/-350 Kcal) per day which is pretty much in line with the 3,400-3,500 KCal/day recommended range.


The report also says that the food contained all macro and micro nutrients as per guidelines.

More importantly 97 per cent of a sample size of 6,526 persons (out of a force strength of approximately 2.5 lakh, which is much larger than the sample sizes of almost all opinion or exit polls) from different frontiers said they were satisfied with the quality and quantity of food provided to them.

This is an "I said so" moment for me.

In January 2017, ex-constable Tej Bahadur Yadav of BSF had posted four videos on Facebook raising questions over the quality of food provided to jawans in BSF. The videos went viral tarnishing the BSF's image. The inspector general of the frontier was ridiculed for highlighting the fact that Yadav was a repeat offender and his remarks were subjected to widespread condemnation.

The videos encouraged some disgruntled jawans from other forces, including the Indian Army, to post similar videos on social media, levelling all kinds of allegations from poor quality of food to misuse of jawans for menial works at the residences of officers and so on.

The entire electronic media space for almost a week was taken up by the story. The media went all out to prove to the world that everything with the personnel management in the forces was wrong.


I was myself part of discussions on two consecutive days on a prominent English channel claiming the highest TRPs. The format of discussions seemed to project the officers and jawans as adversaries if not enemies. The tone and tenor of the anchor apparently implied that jawans were being treated as serfs and officers were behaving like colonial masters. The anchor went on to accuse that Yadav was not being allowed to talk to his family and his mobile was confiscated. He, however, fumbled for a response when I asked if such was the case how was his channel able to show a correspondent talking to Yadav in the presence of his family.

The discussions became so acrimonious that former chief of Army staff General Shankar Roychowdhury lamented to the anchor that his channel could not have done a greater disservice to the Indian armed forces.Many activists took up the cudgels on behalf of Yadav and some of their statements bordered on inciting the jawans to revolt.

I had then in my pieces published on this and other portals said that this was a one-off and the media needed to exercise restraint and not exaggerate or misreport such incidents without verifying facts. I had pointed out that the media had failed to highlight that there was another utensil seen in the video which contained - what appeared to be a well spiced dish, the way jawans like it. The media also failed to point out the fact that the unit concerned was deployed in a high altitude region where rations were supplied by Army and at times timely procurement of fresh rations was difficult due to snowfall or road blocks due to landslide etc. Media also miserably failed to investigate the aspect of local level supervisory failure.


The media, which proclaimed that BSF had lost the perception war because of pointing out Yadav's past misdemeanours, tried to investigate the credentials of his unit commandant to establish that Yadav was being victimised.

For some inexplicable reasons, tarnishing the image of armed forces in general and BSF in particular appeared to have been the aim.

The entire episode is a fit case study of the manner in which some sections of the media behave and sensationalise issues for gaining TRPs.

My naivety makes me wonder what makes them do it. I find that people in general have fixed choices of what they watch on television and the change generally is very rare.

My suggestion to media therefore is to resist the temptation of being first in "breaking news". Stories must be verified from all angles before being telecast or published and this is even more important in so far as stories concerning security forces are concerned. It rarely matters if some other channel breaks the story first. What is more important is that the reporting should be factual, not based on conjectures and should not give one-sided coverage.

Self-regulation is the most important requirement of the times to restore credibility of the media.

Last updated: April 08, 2018 | 16:05
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