The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under Smriti Irani is overhauling and strengthening the entire system so that the work undertaken by the Central government is disseminated amongst the masses ahead of the 2019 general elections.
In a first, the ministry is going to hire 716 contractual employees from almost every district of the country who will act as the eyes and ears of the government. These employees will work on the ground to make people aware of the good works done by the Modi government in the last four years.
A senior official from the ministry told The Sunday Guardian on the condition of anonymity, “The ministry will soon start hiring people, who are well-versed in communication and networking, to gather intelligence from the ground from almost every district of the country. These people will let us know about the mood and response of the masses to the work done by the Modi government. They will also be responsible for monitoring the content being put out by the electronic media throughout the day. They will also analyse the contents of newspapers and the social media at the local level.”
“These individuals will be entrusted with the responsibility of sharing a report on a daily basis directly to the ministry in New Delhi. Their feedback will be analysed and the highest level in the government will be apprised of the same on a weekly basis,” the senior official quoted said.
The ministry recently floated a tender for developing a software for the analysis of the voluminous data that would be collected from the ground on a daily basis and according to sources in the ministry, almost 17 companies had applied for the bid. The ministry has also earmarked more than Rs 18 crore for the project.
According to sources, the ministry has also formulated an internal policy through which it would be able to furnish information about any decision of the government through all channels of the media, including the social media.
“The minister has issued a clear direction to develop a 360 degree approach for putting out any Cabinet decision of the government at the earliest. Officers here have to prepare all the publicity materials even before the Cabinet decision is taken and the publicity material will have to be sent to the Cabinet meeting. Such material will include traditional media releases like press releases or a media byte or write up, video messages if needed, infographics, and SMS contents. Tweets and Facebook posts of the decision have to be prepared in advance, so that as soon as the approval is made, it can be shared on the social media,” a highly placed source in the ministry told this correspondent.
Smriti Irani has merged three divisions, Directorate of Advertising and Publicity (DAVP), Directorate of Field Publicity (DFP) and the Song and Drama Division (S&DD) into one “Bureau of Outreach and Communication” in order to make the publicity division of the government more effective. This bureau will work as the media unit of the government from 60 different centres across the country.
Apart from the capital cities in the country, even smaller cities like Agra, Bareilly, Muzaffarnagar, Aligarh, Rohtak, Bhuj, among others, have been selected. The ministry has also focused on all the seven north eastern states which will have seven different “Bureau of Outreach and Communication” centres in their respective capitals.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting told this newspaper, “This system has been developed to streamline the dissemination of information as per the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I&B Minister Smriti Irani is committed towards doing that. We have devised a thorough plan and strategy for the entire project and the minister wants to break the stagnancy in the media units that existed and is personally paying attention to every detail of these projects.”