High on propaganda low on work

By Santosh Bhartiya

The government’s working style is distinctive. They have firm conviction that their way of functioning is correct. They devise plans, set them in motion, and hold back the information about their progress. Most of their time and energy is spend on adverts, supposedly after the completion of all the projects. The government has spent more than 11 billion rupees to buy space for advertisement, which might be troubling for the party supporters who never shy away from calling the media bikau (sold-out). Anyway this information is obtained from government papers and there is no doubt about its authenticity. The government, which is already on back foot owing to unfavorable demonetization data, may face the heat of this expose, though it is too much to expect a hard-hitting attack from the opposition.

Be that as it may, Modi government has spent more than 11 billion rupees on its propaganda. Rambir Tanwar, an RTI crusader, in order to know Modi Government’s expenditure on advertisement from its inception to August 2016, he started his investigation from 29 August 2016. To his astonishment he found that the government has spent 11 billion rupees on advertising. He shared that information with me, and after authenticating his information I am sharing it with you.

Here are some of the facts related to government’s spending on advertisement or promotional campaign, which includes money given to broadcast, community radio, the Internet, Doordarshan, digital cinema, production, telecast, SMS and some other media. Following are the break-up of expenses: On SMS rupees 9.07 crores were spent in 2014, rupees 5.15 crore in 2015 and rupees 3.86 crores spent till August 2016. On the internet rupees 6.6 crore were spent in 2014, rupees 14.13 crore were spent in 2015 and rupees 1.99 crore till August 2016. On broadcast rupees 64.39 crore were spent in 2014, rupees 94.54 crore in 2015 and rupees 40.63 crore until August 2016. On community radio rupees 88.4 lakh were spend in 2014, rupees 2.27 crore in 2015 and 81.45 lakhs until August 2016. On digital cinema rupees 77 crore were spent in 2014, rupees 1 billion in 2015 and rupees 6.23 crore were spent unit August 2016. On telecast, rupees 2.36 billion were spent in 2014, rupees 2.45 billion in 2015 and rupees 38.71 crore till August 2016. On production rupees 8.20 crore were spent in 2014, rupees 13.90 crore in 2015 and rupees 1.29 crore till August 2016. If we look at the year-wise figures, then we will find out that from 1 June 2014 to 31 March 2015, rupees 4.48 billion were spent; from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016, rupees 5.42 billion were spent; while from 1 April 2016 to 11 August 2016, rupees 1.20 billion rupees spent.

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The government claims that most of its senior leaders pay the bill of their tea and snacks from their own pockets. Now the question bobs up, if this information is correct, and to me there is no doubt about its authenticity, then it would not have accede 5 to 10 crore of rupees. But spending rupees 1100 crore on advertisement is annoying, and demands audit as to in what stage the work of the advertised schemes are? As of now no television or newspapers look into it. If in two and half years, the expenditure on advertising is rupees 1100 crores, then the total estimated expenditure for advertisement in five years would be somewhere near rupees 3000 crore.

Compare government spending on advertisement with that of the campaign of newly elected American president Donald Trump. He high-tech campaign cost Rs 800 crores. If a central government spends so much money in our country, then it is a matter of concern. Now I am putting this fact in front of you because andh-bhakt will not understand, but desh-bhakt will do and these are worrying facts. Because the Prime Minister himself has said that those who criticize are people who are spreading despair. He went on the extent that inflation is not new; prices kept increasing. If the growth rate falls, let it be. Had it not fall earlier? He also said that the growth rate has dropped five times. The question arises as to how can you tell that you are better than others?

The fruition of your schemes is not being seen by common people, which is a matter of concern. All we have to say is that people whom you accused of spreading despair are not spreading despair; they simply bring facts which the government has been ignoring. Our Prime Minister and the Finance Minister have few days earlier emphatically denied that the pace of our economy has weakened or we are on the verge of recession. Growth rate has decreased. Both of them had said that our growth rate had increased, though at that time we had written and said that analyzing our data, the whole world is saying that there is slowdown, and our growth rate may fall. But in high-pitched tone the government maintained the growth rate will not fall at all. According to them growth rate has increased, people are lying. Now the Prime Minister himself is conceding the fact that the growth rate has come down, with the rider: has it fallen for the first time? He is trying to prove himself right by calling the criticism pessimism of the frustrated people.

As for slump in growth rate, of course it often comes down, but you need to be at guard, lest you should not have to say that recession is commonplace. Of course the world has experience recession earlier? But, politicians do not run the country; the country is run by officials. They will be asked after this government is gone that in what mess they have let the country to plunge in?

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