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Independence Day’s tryst with Modi

The Red Fort decked up for the Independence Day celebration

New Delhi, Aug. 14: Live-streaming in high-definition by YouTube, a text-message blitz, capsules on past and present Prime Ministers, a diktat to the babus to show up or else….

The government is sparing no effort to turn Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden Independence Day speech from the Red Fort into a mega event.

Sources in the information and broadcasting ministry said private companies like YouTube had been drafted to live-stream the speech in full high definition in the country and overseas.

As soon as the speech ends, the Press Information Bureau will send out crores of text messages highlighting its salient points.

A girl has her picture clicked in front of a floral arrangement resembling the Indian flag

State broadcaster Doordarshan will begin the coverage the traditional way with Vande Mataram at 6.25am, but will for the first time also feature patriotic songs in several regional languages.

This, sources said, is in keeping with the new government’s emphasis on regional representation and “inclusion of the sentiments of all states”.

Doordarshan also plans to telecast a three-minute capsule profiling Modi just before going live to show his arrival at the Red Fort and the guard of honour. This will be preceded by capsules on former Prime Ministers. After the speech, a panel of experts will analyse it.

The entire programme will be telecast live in full high definition on the DD HD channel, and in standard definition on all the other DD channels.

It will be simulcast in sign language on DD News, a practice started during this year’s Republic Day ceremony and followed during Modi’s swearing-in.

The public broadcaster will deploy 20 cameras, three high-definition OB vans and three digital satellite news-gathering vans. A team of more than 100 engineers, programmers, cinematographers and commentators has been assigned the task of ensuring “excellent coverage”.

Marking a first, all the senior bureaucrats have been warned of stern action if they fail to attend the Independence Day ceremony.

In a letter, cabinet secretary Ajit Seth has asked the secretaries of the various departments and ministries to not only ensure that the babus serving under them attend the event but to convey that absence would be viewed seriously.

India Gate spruced up ahead of Independence Day. Pictures by Prem Singh and AP

“It has been observed that there is, at times, low attendance of the official invitees to the ceremony. This is unacceptable considering that the occasion is of great national importance,” the letter says.

It makes it clear that a “serious view would be taken of their absence on this occasion”.