New Delhi: A report by a Group of Ministers (GoM) has recommended identifying and engaging journalists — who had lost jobs but have been “supportive or neutral” to the Modi government — in various ministries so that their services could be used to project the government’s image positively.
The GoM comprising nine ministers of the Narendra Modi cabinet also suggested in the report, drafted last year, that there should be regular interaction with foreign media journalists as part of the government’s global outreach so that “its perspective” is put out correctly in the international forum.
According to the report, the government should have an increased engagement with journalism schools as part of its long-term strategy since “present students are future journalists”. It also calls for creating a pool of journalists who would “understand and appreciate the stand of the government”.
The report has also suggested that persons with ability to give out good arguments or a “pool of spin doctors” should be identified. It also says authors in different regional languages sympathetic to the government should be listed.
“Same fact can be presented with different narratives. So, a pool of spin doctors who can do it for the government should be identified and utilised,” the report states.
Other action points highlighted in the report include tracking 50 negative influencers who give out false narratives and discredit the government, and regularly engaging with and encouraging 50 positive influencers who project the government’s work in the “right perspective”, and also providing them with required information.
The Information & Broadcasting (I&B) ministry has been given the task of engaging with journalists and other influencers. It has also been given the responsibility of promoting and supporting select online portals as the GoM feels most of the existing portals are critical of the government.
The recommendations also call for mass circulation of positive stories, success stories and testimonials to highlight the work done by the government and the difference they have made in people’s lives, rebuttal of negative stories, ensuring advertisements and outreach programmes in regional languages for “better connect with local people” as well as identification of two major initiatives or schemes by every ministry to organise public outreach programmes “in a big way”.
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Calls for govt-party collaboration
The report has a section that suggests establishing a direct connection with people. Under this, it lists how the government, as well as the BJP, should be engaging with people at the ground level.
It states that while there are cabinet briefings on Wednesdays, there should be a press conference or sammelan at the state level on Thursdays and by district presidents on Fridays. It also states that on Saturdays and Sundays, there should be a jan sampark organised by MPs and MLAs.
“These actions would ensure that decisions and initiatives of the government reach the ground level,” the report states. “Through this, whole party machinery and elected representatives will remain in active contact with people.”
It further states an “audio bridge” should be carried out with all the spokespersons of the party at a fixed time so that the party line could be properly explained to them and everyone could be on the same page.
The report states there should be proper government-party coordination of social media management.
Ministries tasked with outreach plans
The report recommends tasking different ministries with different outreach goals. It states that the ministries of Human Resource Development (HRD) and Youth Affairs & Sports will ensure the various initiatives and schemes of government shall be taken to the people through volunteers of NSS, NCC, and party leaders.
It also says the I&B ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) should work on increasing the international presence of public broadcasters. The MEA, the report says, should ensure that outreach in other countries can be made more effective by making media units in the Indian missions more active.
The report states that an effective system of communication with the NRI community should be established and they should be supported so that they can also raise their voice against negative stories or narratives in foreign countries.
It calls for engaging with platforms such as Twitter and Google to increase the government’s outreach positively.
The GoM report puts the responsibilities of identifying prominent groups of people and organisations whose opinions are recognised internationally on the MEA and HRD ministry.
It also states that physical copies of the government magazine, New India Samachar, should be distributed to 6 lakh people and the e-version to 8 crore people.
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