The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Foreign minister, home publicity
Sinha: Hungry for headlines'

New Delhi, Aug. 10: A move is on to spruce up foreign minister Yashwant Sinha’s image as his ministry feels his achievements are foreign to the Indian media.

Over a year into his tenure, Sinha’s important visits abroad have not got adequate coverage in the country’s media, believe officials of the ministry.

It is not clear if the bid to ensure full media glare for Sinha’s future achievements has the minister’s blessings.

Ministry spokesman and publicity division joint secretary Navtej Sarna has issued circulars to Indian missions abroad and divisional heads in South Block on measures to enhance coverage for Sinha’s foreign visits.

One suggestion is ensuring curtain raisers in Indian newspapers and television channels at least a week before Sinha embarks on an official overseas tour.

South Block’s secretaries and division heads have been told to provide the spokesman a detailed brief so that he could, in turn, brief the Indian media and focus on the visit’s salient points.

Overseas missions, too, have been asked to arrange visual coverage of all major events during a visit. For the purpose, TV footage and photographs would have to be arranged which would be sent to Delhi to be carried in newspapers and TV channels.

Secretaries and senior officials on a delegation and the chief of mission in the country of visit have also been asked to brief the ministry spokesman in detail on the achievements and high points of the minister’s meetings in the host nation.

Sarna, in turn, would disseminate this information to journalists during his daily briefings, thus ensuring adequate media coverage at home for Sinha.

The chiefs of missions have also been asked to arrange local media coverage during the minister’s visit.

In a reverse process, press clippings would be regularly sent to the minister while on tour to give him a feedback of his visit’s impact at home.

As many of the suggestions are routine and have been practised in the past, the sending of circulars clearly shows that either Sinha or his close aides are unhappy with his media coverage at home.

Many in South Block attribute the phenomenon to a guideline Sinha had invoked while he was finance minister.

As foreign minister, Sinha’s predecessor Jaswant Singh had managed maximum publicity and media coverage at home for nearly four years as he always carried a media team with him on foreign visits.

Sinha, then the finance minister, had reportedly objected to Singh’s practice.

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