The Telegraph
Saturday , June 21 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Twitter tutorials lined up for babus

New Delhi, June 20: Bureaucrats will be trained to “effectively” use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to put out information on policies, weeks after Narendra Modi asked ministers to use social media to highlight initiatives and connect with people.

“We have met secretaries of various ministries and urged them to choose a tech-savvy official for social media interactions. Training sessions will be organised for such officials,” said a senior official of the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry, which is overseeing the drive.

Sources said all ministries had been asked to appoint a joint secretary-level official as the nodal authority for the social media thrust.

Under the plan, while the information officers (IOs) in the ministries — mostly Indian Information Service officers — will be directly linked with a social media hub set up in the I&B ministry, their efforts will be supervised by the joint secretary-level officer.

The IOs have also been advised to appoint consultants if needed.

“With Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself leading the way on social media and asking ministers to utilise the medium, we are now set to guide the officials. Things will start from basics, such as creating a Twitter handle or Facebook page, to posting photos and other types of content,” the ministry official added.

Babus will also be taught how to use Google Hangout — an instant messaging and video chat platform — and upload videos on YouTube. The training sessions will mostly include practical how-to-do-it lessons from experts, with each lasting about a week.

Sources in the new media wing — the social media hub in the I&B ministry — said the biggest challenge was to find officials who were tech-savvy and comfortable handling various aspects of the new form of communication.

“Most of the officials we are being referred to are social-media illiterates and reluctant to learn. Many of them complain of being overloaded with work. But since this diktat has come from the top, they will have to comply and learn,” said an official who is part of the team that will organise the training sessions.

The wing will assist ministries in linking their Facebook and Twitter accounts and co-ordinating with each other on social media to amplify their messages and avoid conflicting signals.

I&B minister Prakash Javadekar had rolled out the initiative a day after taking charge. He wrote to all ministers asking them to use the social media extensively through the hub in his ministry, making it a point to mention this was being done on Prime Minister Modi’s instructions.

Almost all ministers now have their own Twitter handles, besides the official Twitter handle of the Press Information Bureau (PIB).

Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi is among those who have recently joined Facebook. She has announced that her ministry would use the platform to receive complaints and communicate with people.

Nirmala Sitharaman now has a new Twitter handle as junior commerce and industry minister for official tweets.

Sources said the I&B ministry’s new media wing had been asked to compile a report highlighting trends on Twitter and other such sites daily to find out which issues are on the top of people’s minds.

The reports are being filed with the ministry but will be sent to Prime Minister’s Office, home ministry and other departments if sought.