A Committee set up by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has favoured “constructive usage” of social media in the defence services and frowned upon the curbs — like application forms introduced by the Army recently for permission to use social media — calling them “intrusive” and “not in tune with reality”.
The Indian Express had earlier reported that the Army had issued detailed instructions severely restricting the use of social media by its personnel, and had also brought out a form that sought details of the use of social media sites from them.
The committee on reduction of litigation in the MoD and improvement of the mechanisms of redressal of grievances, which submitted its report to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar last week, has made certain important recommendations related to the use of social media and methods of interaction between seniors and juniors in the military.
The committee, comprising High Court advocate Major Navdeep Singh, Lt General Mukesh Sabharwal (retd), Lt Gen Richard Khare (retd), Major General T Parshad (retd) and war disabled officer Major D P Singh, has recommended that constructive use of social media should be encouraged while “immature usage” should be discouraged.
Sources said the committee has stated that the only thumb rule should be that operational and strategic issues must not be discussed on social media.
The committee has disagreed with the “application forms” introduced by the Army for “permission” to use social networks, underlining that such formats are “intrusive and not in tune with reality”, and are not prescribed for any other service or employees.
The committee has stressed on issuing advisories in the form of ‘Dos and Don’ts’ and capsule courses in military academies to sensitise personnel on responsible use of social media.
The members of the committee have rather endorsed proactive use of social media by official bodies to counter rumour-mongering or misinformation.
In another suggestion, out of the total 75 recommendations, the panel has observed that senior commanders must maintain participative and interactive blogs with proper security checks to provide a grievances outlet to the rank and file since physical interaction at times becomes difficult in the military due to long distance and a stratified structure. The committee has asked all services to emulate the blog of the GOC-in-C, Western Command in this regard.
It has also recommended that an online forum, on the lines of the one introduced by the Indian Air Force, be adopted by all three services where personnel can seek answers to queries related to official policies.