CAN’T SAY IF BHARAT NIRMAN DID HAPPEN, AND LO! HERE COMES YET ANOTHER UPA-II AD-SPEND BLOOPER

We are going to be burdened (indirect effects of which we are to feel later that might come in form of some more subsidy cuts) a bit more and as usual, it is the immense wisdom of our comfortably numb prime minister Manmohan Singh that is (or going to be at play again) at play again.

But before going into that let’s scratch our heads to know a little that what Rs 200 crore can do the life of some ordinary Indians:

Let’s take a simple corollary. India is the youngest nation in the world and millions of its young representatives are staring at the prospect of a stable livelihood.

To go into that let’s pan across some data:

  1. ‘Around 7 crore people are unemployed or underemployed in India’ said Labour and Employment Minister Mallikarjun Kharge in Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Indian Parliament) last December.
  1. According to an assessment from the latest Economic Survey of India report, the per capita income of India at current prices in 2012-13 was around Rs 5200 (with the national average of Rs 61,564 an year).

According to an exclusive story by the daily DNA (www.dnaindia.com – DNA exclusive: UPA-II’s India story is going abroad, for Rs200 crore, June 6, 2013), the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is planning to launch a massive advertising campaign to go for an overseas image makeover to address the brand UPA hara-kiri and disgrace. The report says: “After being battered at home and abroad, the UPA government is planning a Rs200-crore blitzkrieg to shore up its nirman story with a desperate bid to woo foreign institutional investors, particularly from North America, western Europe and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations.”

What does it mean for you and me and for an Indian who elects the people who make the governments like the UPA?

Nothing, except, some more misuse of the resources that were supposed to be used for the betterment of the public by the ‘people from among the public elected by the public’!

Rs 5200 per month, we all know that it is not a level of income to lead a satisfactory standard of living but let’s see what 200 crore can do for a rich country of poor where millions survive on less than 2$ a day.

This Rs 200 crore can employ around 3.2 lakh people for a year with Rs 5200 in monthly emolument. If we consider an average family size of four members, it effectively adds to the support system of 3.2 lakh families or around 1.3 million people in those families.

See! This much of the resources are going to be wasted again and this much, like always, like the Rs 150 crore for the recently re-launched Bharat Nirman campaign, would be taken out from the public fund that is supposed to be used for the public betterment. Okay, the government would justify it with more than one reason, in reality, nothing can justify it, especially when the very same government is shedding the crocodile tears to reduce the energy and fuel subsidies under the garb of increasing burden on the financial health of the nation.

Simultaneously, Rs 150 crore can effectively add to the support system of 2.4 lakh families or around 9 lakh people in those families. It becomes even more glaring if we take into account the ad-spend of the UPA-II government since 2009 when it retook the office.

According to the reports, the ad-spend figures available till February 2012 show the UPA-2 government had already spent Rs. 2246 crore on advertisements by then. Going by the corollary of the Rs 5200 per month per capita income, it could have translated to an effective aid to the support system of 3.6 million families and around 14 millions of individuals of such families.

We all know who Rajiv Gandhi was and what he did for India. Why do we need multiple advertisements across multiple platforms by most of the government departments and ministries commemorating Rajiv Gandhi on his birth and death anniversaries?

Okay, if they have to do so, why don’t they do so from their own, private funds? Why to waste the money meant for (and must be) used for the betterment of the public?

Okay, the argument may be propagated that the ad-spend was necessary but such an argument easily gets punctured in the light of the related developments.

Such arguments sound sham when we come across regular reports of massive corruption in almost every government project. Almost nothing, not even the rural India centric massive projects with an ambition to cover the most parts of the nation are beyond the web of the neck-deep political and bureaucratic corruption.

Advertisements by the government departments and ministries are supposed to act as tools to aware and empower the people intended to be the beneficiaries of different programmes and projects to ask for what is rightfully and legally theirs.

Instead, their ignorance and their inability to convey the wrongs happening as reflected in the large-scale corruption tell either the government efforts to aware and empower the people are failing or the government is not at all serious about the ultimate aim of such initiatives – making aware and empower and instead is busy in bushing the beat making such advertisements a personal branding exercise for the person or group of persons involved. And if that be the case, it is certainly not an acceptable practice. Such wastage of public funds is deplorable.

But, as has become clear, the insensitive political class doesn’t even think about such considerations. Rather, they prefer to suppress the voices trying to show them the reality. As the election time is approaching near, the UPA government and Mr. Manmohan Singh are ratcheting up the (empty) rhetoric again with heavy advertising to showcase what is not there; literally, to befool us again.

Coming back to where we began, on youth and unemployment in India, Manmohan Singh recently said: “The unemployment rate came down from 8.3% to 6.6% between 2004-05 and 2009-10. This period suffered from one of the worst global meltdowns in history and most of the countries, developed and developing, have registered increased in their unemployment rates while we were still able to create additional jobs. Employment in the unorganised sector registered a growth of more than 9% from 26.5 million in 2005 to 29 million in 2011.” 

But his assertions fall flat when we see the larger picture that is not what Manmohan is trying to make us see.

According to a report published in The Wall Street Journal (Young, Jobless and Indian, November 23, 2012): “The latest World Development Report by the World Bank says India’s youth unemployment — as a percentage of the youth work force — was 9.9% for males and 11.3% for females in 2010. In 1985, the figures were 8.3% and 8%, respectively. Youth unemployment in India, like most countries, has consistently been above the national average. But of late, the data indicate rising youth unemployment, now virtually 50% more than the national average, or total unemployment rate.”

Qualitatively disturbing! Now see this assessment from the International Labour Organization (ILO).

ILO says in its Global Unemployment Trends 2007-13, released in May 2013: What does it say about unemployment in India: “In India there is evidence that youth unemployment rates are higher for families with incomes over the $1.25 poverty rate than for those with incomes under this poverty line. “In developing countries such as India, as much as two-thirds of young workers receive below average wages and are engaged in work for which they are either over-qualified or under-qualified. Over-education and over-skilling co-exist with under-education and under-skilling. Such a mismatch makes solutions to the youth employment crisis more difficult to find”

A mismatch!  Indeed it is. A population of over a billion with majority of them quality-illiterate, poorly-fed and living a sub-standard quality of life needs a political and bureaucratic class that could understand this mismatch to work out effective solutions.

Instead, we have a political and bureaucratic class that has become synonymous with corruption, nepotism, insensitivity and elitism.

Instead of addressing such grave problems with the seriousness demanded, the Manmohan Singh led governments is pouring the money from the public funds freely into massive cover-up operations to create an illusion of the achievements that are not there, to create a layer of propaganda to hide the utter failure that his government has been during its second terms in the office since May 2009.

The insensitivity and the rashness reflect in the advertisement campaigns like Bharat Nirman or this reported campaign targeting the overseas audience or the reports of a Rs 100 crore campaign by the UPA government in September 2012 to justify the retail FDI decision and diesel-pricing deregulation and price hike or the Hindustan Times report (UPA ad blitz gets Rs. 630 crore more, June 6, 2013) that says the Finance Ministry okays Rs 630 crore more for the Bharat Nirman campaign.

Mr. Manmohan Singh, the youth from the 7 crore of the unemployed or underemployed people or 70 crores or more of the Indians, quality-illiterate, poorly-fed, the Indians forced to live a sub-standard quality of life, cannot buy your sham every time. NDA had learnt this lesson in a bitter way in 2004.

This time, it may well be a telling development for your government the signs of which you are not reading. Stop wasting millions that could give livelihood to the millions. That is not your private money. It is rightfully theirs.

 ©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

BHARAT NIRMAN-2: MAY WELL PROVE TO BE THE UPA’S VERY OWN INDIA SHINING!

It was over Rs. 150 crore for the ‘India Shining’ campaign in 2004. It was around Rs. 200 crore for the ‘Bharat Nirman’ campaign in 2009. Figures available till February 2012 show the UPA-2 government has already spent Rs. 2246 crore on advertisements.

To begin the campaign season formally, the government recently re-launched the ‘Bharat Nirman’ campaign with a reported budget of Rs 35 crore for an initial run of 15 days. Overall, the Javed Akhtar-Pradeep Sarkar output is expected to cost a whopping Rs. 180 crore.

But, for the UPA and the Congress party, the picture is not as rosy as it was in 2009.

The Congress party led UPA-2 government that is completing four years in office on May 22 has become synonymous with corruption. Scams like 2G spectrum allocation, coal blocks allocation, Commonwealth Games, many Defence deal scams and scams in projects that helped the UPA-1 win the 2009 elections like the farm debt waiver and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act have created an abysmally low credibility scenario for the government.

With the forced ouster of the two cabinet ministers, Ashwani Kumar from the Law & Justice ministry and Pawan Kumar Bansal, from the Railway ministry, the debates on the possibility of early General Elections, otherwise to be scheduled around May 2014, have got a step-up.

The only breather for the Congress party and the UPA is the absence of a united and clean opposition. The major opposition party BJP just lost the Karnataka assembly elections fought on the main issue of corruption, to the Congress. Important regional parties like Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Nationalist Congress Party, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Rashtriya Jatna Dal, Janta Dal (United), have had history of corruption with tainted leaders.

Also, in spite of growing corruption allegations and involvement of the UPA members in scams, the Congress party has been able to win assembly elections of Assam, Kerala, Manipur, Puducherry, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and now Karnataka in the second term of the UPA when the political and bureaucratic corruption have touched the newer heights. That makes the Congress strategists think that the ‘public memory is short and it can easily be swept away in the impulse of the moment’.

The strategy makers in the Congress party believe the populist schemes focusing on the rural India and marginalized population segments of the urban India could still help the Congress party win over the upcoming elections in case of a fractured opposition.

And so, the Congress party has already started working, in full throttle, on its campaign for the General Election 2014 with the launch of ‘Bharat Nirman’ version-2.

But, going by the indications and the negative sentiments against the Congress, its many leaders including Manmohan Singh as well as against the ‘Gandhis’ after the alleged Robert Vadra cover-ups, ‘Bharat Nirman’, this time, may well prove to be the UPA’s very own ‘India Shining’.

After all, every Javed Akhtar and every Pradeep Sarkar creation has not been a hit. They have had their share of duds.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

BHARAT NIRMAN VS INDIA SHINING – SOME RELEVANT ‘SITUATIONAL’ QUESTIONS

The Bhartiya Janta Party led National Democratic Alliance government launched ‘India Shining’ in the run-up to the 2004 General Elections. It lost. The Congress party led United Progressive Alliance launched its campaign led by ‘Bharat Nirman’ in the run-up to the 2009 General Elections. It won. The Congress party is again gearing up for a massive campaign in the run-up to the next General Elections with the recently re- launched ‘Bharat Nirman’ campaign that, according to the reports, is expected to cost Rs 35 crore in the initial run of 15 days.

Do such communication management campaigns really help in gaining a significant chunk of voters?

Did the NDA campaign fail or the alliance’s governance fail?

Was the UPA-1’s governance win supported by a meticulously drawn communication campaign?

Or was there lack of a political alternative after the NDA government failed miserably to reach out to the larger India that was known as ‘Bharat’ in the perennial ‘India Vs Bharat’ debate circles; ‘Bharat’ that represents the majority of India – poor, poorly literate, poorly fed and poorly kept?

Did the NDA’s campaign and the governance fail to make the people of ‘Bharat’ understand that their misery owed more to the long run of the Congress party that had ruled the Independent India most of the time (almost 53 years of the 66 years of independence) and other party or alliance governments needed time and that the five-six odd years were just not enough to undo the rot propagated by the grand old party of India?

An event in making, with the Congress party led UPA alliance government facing the credibility crisis with series of scandals, controversies and scams, it is going to be an  interesting observation to see if the Congress party is going to come up with a communication management strategy encompassing elements of crisis management working simultaneously on the measures to counter the massive negative publicity or it still believes in hard-selling its populist schemes like it did in the 2009 elections.

It would tell whether the Congress party had learnt from the mistakes of the ‘India Shining’ campaign in conceiving and designing the ‘Bharat Nirman’ campaign or if it was just akin to riding on the good show of the UPA-1 government.

But, was it really a good show of the UPA-1 government?

The country knows now that most of the massive scams today, the 2G spectrum allocation scam, the coal blocks allocation scam, the Commonwealth Games scam, irregularities in National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or in National Rural Health Mission or many other scams, have had their origin during the ‘good old days’ of the UPA-1?

Let’s wait to see. Let’s watch as the biggest event of the Indian democracy unveils!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/