After cloud theory, Modi caught in troll downpour

After Modi's cloud theory, the chowkidars are all missing from radar
Prime minister Narendra Modi

Twitterati had a field day with memes after Prime minister Narendra Modi claimed in a recent interview that the timing of Balakot air-strike was influenced by his suggestion that overcast weather will aid the mission by hiding Indian planes from radar.

“It's my raw wisdom. There's so much cloud and rain. This could benefit us. We can escape their radar. Everyone was confused. Finally, I said ... let us proceed [with the mission],” was Modi's comment during the interview.

While cloudy weather can affect military readiness, such as preventing bombs like the Crystal Maze from deploying their video feeds, it will not have as much of an effect on military radar systems. Military radar can operate on low frequencies that can see through the cloud cover.

After cloud theory, Modi caught in troll downpour
Urmila Matondkar

The interview was soon the most-discussed topic on social media with defence journalists, opposition leaders and Twitter-journalists all poking fun at the PM. A simple Google search got many, who did not have the right facts then, what they were looking for.

BJP handles which had tweeted a link of the interview with translations of PM's comment were all subsequently deleted. Screenshots that Twitterati had promptly saved floated around on the internet in various forms undermining the swing in popularity that the Modi-led government had had conducting the surgical strikes.

CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury wrote to the Election Commission demanding action against the PM, on the grounds that he gave our sensitive “operational details” with the intent of “influencing voters”. In addition, the letter adds that the Model Code of Conduct does not allow for the armed forces to be the subject of hyperbolic and false claims.

Two things have become distinctively clear in the wake of the interview – PM Modi thinks his raw wisdom is apparently superior to the opinion of experts to the detriment of national security, and the fact that his brash remark was left uncontested during the time of the interview leaving us to wonder if it was scripted in the first place.

The Congress-led opposition has hit out at Modi for “disrespecting war strategy”. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted, “In 70 years no PM has made fun of military might, but Modi Ji kept his raw wisdom above military's professionalism.”

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi also took a jibe at PM Modi during a rally in Indore saying that he is such a “defence expert that he thought, the weather is cloudy and the planes won't come on the radar”. Priyanka Gandhi also attacked PM Modi on the Rafale deal. She said, "He is such a defence expert that he himself decided who will manufacture planes, he decided those who have never made a plane in their lives will make it."

While the BJP has not come out openly defending PM Modi's remark, the bhakt-brigade and chowkidar-gang on social media had, despite knowing quite well (or perhaps not) that defence experts have shot down Modi's theory, displaying in full light how "the Hindu Right has made a virtue of ignore, anti-intellectualism, fake news and propaganda".

“The joke then is not on Modi. The joke is on the “educated” elite/middle-class supporters of Modi who have made idiocy and ignorance fashionable,” tweeted Nissim Mannathukkaren, department Chair, associate professor, development studies, Dalhousie University, Canada.

While there was some sparring from BJP's side, most remained uncharacteristically non-responsive to the many attacks on Twitter. BJP leader Baijayant Jay Panda quoted a Quora article in an attempt to defend Modi, but in vain. A pilot with two decades of experience, Panda was reminded that he is the national vice-president and spokesperson of BJP now, and an explanation was sought for the deletion of BJP's tweets.

So here's the radar technology again simplified to the level of chowkidars and chaiwalas:

Radar is a system for detecting the presence, direction, distance, and speed of aircraft, ships, and other objects, by sending out pulses of radio waves which are reflected off the object back to the source.

The technology was first developed by Sir Robert Watson-Watt who demonstrated it successfully in 1935 to the British Military. Radar was a decisive factor in influencing the Royal Air Force’s win over the Nazi Luftwaffe during World War II by detecting the enemy planes, identifying its direction and the distance between. Britain’s victory in WW II hugely rests on the radio detection and ranging, or simply called, the radar.

The Mechanism

Radar basically works by transmitting radio waves from an antenna which then is detected by a receiver when it bounces back from the objects encountered on the path. The wavelength can easily pass through the clouds and hence the objects beyond are detected. The receivers detect only those waves that are reflected from the target objects thus promising accuracy and amplifies the radar waves to display it on viewing screens.

The waves received help in deciphering the presence, location, and velocity of the objects. The distance of the object is determined by measuring the total time taken by the wave to return to the receiver since its transmission. By formulating the velocity of transmission and the time taken, the distance can be easily obtained. The steady emission of waves helps predict and establish the future course of the target object, hence widely used in surveillance.

While echoes from all sources can hinder detection, yet the capacity of radar technology to discern the kinds of echoes keeps the target in focus. The Doppler frequency principle helps distinguish waves of moving target objects from other stationary objects. Rain too doesn't cause much trouble as the raindrops symmetrical and aircraft’s asymmetrical structure ensures the echoes coming from the two will be different and thus can be easily distinguished.

Thus, it can be concluded that cloud or sunshine, military radar systems are well equipped to detect aircraft and that its precision is only improving.

India had conducted air strikes on Balakot, Pakistan after a suicide bombing attack conducted by a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist killed several Indian soldiers on February 14.

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