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Projecting Power and Territorial Disputes: The BJP and Indian News Coverage of Border Conflicts

Author: Ravale Mohydin

Affiliation: TRT World Research Centre

Organization/Publisher: TRT World Research Centre

Date/Place: June 17, 2021/Istanbul, Turkey

Type of Literature: Research Report

Number of Pages: 21


Keywords: Media, Framing, India, Hindutva, BJP, Conflict, Security, Pakistan, China


This paper examines the Indian media’s role in bringing to Indian masses and beyond the conflicts that India is engaged with China and Pakistan along its western and northern borders. The study focuses on the influence of the ruling Hindutva-professing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its framing of the coverage of India’s border conflicts. This paper also links electoral successes of the BJP with the reportage over border conflicts with China and Pakistan which present Hindu-nationalist Premier Narendra Modi as a “strongman”. Pointing to the media-government nexus in India, the author looks at the exponential rise of the BJP from 1984 when it had just 4 seats in parliament to its winning provincial elections of Uttar Pradesh in 1999 and holding nuclear tests in 1998 when it was leading a coalition government. It whipped-up and used Hindu-nationalism to win over the electorate. Modi’s Rise to India’s chief executive in 2014, the paper argues, was also a result of his “relationships with the Indian business community that has significant investments in the Indian media industry.” The author picked India’s most-read Times of India English newspaper for this study where she found the daily-promoted peace process with China to solve the border conflict; different than the escalation rhetoric used with Pakistan. India shares an international border with Pakistan but tensions remain high along the Line of Control (LoC) that has divided the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region. India is likewise in battle with China along the border of India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh and in Ladakh, part of disputed Kashmir region, along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The tensions along the LAC, that turned fatal in mid-2020, analysts insist are the result of India’s annexation of Kashmir in August 2019. China has slammed and opposed the move. Research also found that the Indian newspaper significantly promoted international support in resolving the border conflict with China (more than with Pakistan) in addition to “conflict capacity and economic consequences.” The coverage also “attempted to diminish power asymmetry with India significantly more than with Pakistan,” the paper notes.

By: Riyaz ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-Resident Research Associate



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