The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Feel-good show with Rs 250 cr
- Govt unleashing ad blitz in run-up to elections

New Delhi, Jan. 18: India Shining is not enough. It has to be “on the move” as well.

The Shine and the Move will cost at least Rs 250 crore.

Following up on the finance ministry’s “India Shining” series, which started in the run-up to the elections to four Assemblies, the Planning Commission and the ministries of health, rural development, roads, power and tribal welfare will launch an ad campaign to showcase the BJP-led government’s “achievements” as the siren wails for early Lok Sabha polls.

The normally stodgy, publicity-shy commission, which has already kicked off its print media campaign with two newspaper ads, plans half a dozen television releases of 60-90 seconds each. Top ad firms, including Rediffusion and Ogilvy & Mather, have been shortlisted for the job.

The brain behind the effort is a task force headed by Sudheendra Kulkarni, an aide to the Prime Minister.

The health ministry alone is set to splurge about Rs 25 crore on one channel — Doordarshan — alone to highlight the “good work” it has done in taking medical care to the masses on one channel.

Three sets of booklets — one on the government’s milestones, another on five years of achievements and a third on states — are in the works, too. These are to be published in English, Hindi and major regional languages. The booklets, expected to be printed in lakhs, are being rushed to beat the Lok Sabha’s dissolution and the announcement of polls.

Government media officers in the Press Information Bureau and the Directorate of Audio-Visual Publicity (DAVP) have been engaged to do this work.

Once elections are announced, the Election Commission will not allow these publicity campaigns. The DAVP’s former chief had to be moved out after the chief election commissioner pulled her up for releasing the India Shining ads before the Assembly elections.

The upcoming ad blitz thus has to be compressed between now and mid-February by when the Lok Sabha is expected to be dissolved.

Officials involved in these campaigns said they had been told not to try to be too scrupulous about the fine print of these ads.

Under the catchline “India on the move”, the Planning Commission’s second ad, for example, speaks about employment going up, despite the government’s own statistics saying that 4.2 lakh jobs have been lost in the organised sector and the small and unorganised sector is facing large-scale sickness.

“Contradictions later by opponents will seem like nitpicking. People see the large picture, not the fine print,” said an official.

The large picture in the commission’s ad, for instance, compares Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s commitment on employment creation and achievement. It says: “Promise: 1 crore employment opportunities every year; Performance: 84 lakh employment opportunities every year.”

As in India Shining, the theme is to shovel more fuel into the “feel-good” engine the government has been driving on the strength of high economic growth and the booming stock market.

As BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu said again today what he does not tire of saying: “There is a feel-good factor everywhere and we want to convert it into a feel-great factor.”

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