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Aarogya Setu is ‘priority’ as Modi govt plans big publicity campaign for its Covid work

The publicity campaign, also featuring fake news busted by PIB fact check unit, will be carried out by the I&B ministry in at least 13 states.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government’s flagship health mobile application Aarogya Setu, and fake news items busted by the Press Information Bureau’s fact check unit top a list of subjects that are going to feature in a large-scale publicity campaign amid the Covid-19 lockdown.

According to top government sources, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) will be carrying out the campaign in at least 13 states. While subjects like the app and the PIB drive will be publicised across the board, some campaigns will be state specific.

Publicity activities on other topics, such as making masks, and importance of social distancing in states like Bihar and Tamil Nadu, will follow. The state of Delhi will see a campaign on the initiatives taken to help migrant labourers and informal sector workers.

The move has been prompted by a set of suggestions received by an empowered group on information, communication and public awareness — one of the 11 such groups set up last month by the Ministry of Home Affairs to control the spread of Covid-19, and to tackle the challenges emerging out of the nationwide lockdown until 3 May.

The empowered group on information, communication and public awareness is headed by former I&B secretary Ravi Mittal. However, after his transfer last week, there are chances senior IAS officer Amit Khare, who is holding additional charge of the ministry, may also get an additional charge of the empowered group, according to sources.

Khare, who was I&B secretary before Mittal, is however already heading another empowered group.

ThePrint had earlier reported that busting fake news, examining media narratives for effectively predicting trends, showcasing a proactive India tackling Covid-19 and ensuring positive press coverage are among the tasks to be overseen by the empowered group.

Also read: Relaxed lockdown between 3 and 15 May but no public transport likely, PM Modi tells states

Aarogya Setu & busted fake news top priority in all states

The empowered group on information, communication and public awareness has received suggestions on a variety of topics to be publicised across the country and the need for carrying out wide-scale ‘Information Education Communication (IEC)’ activities on them, said the sources.

The publicity activities will be undertaken by regional media units of the I&B ministry, which includes units of PIB, Doordarshan, All India Radio, and Bureau of Outreach and Communication. A state-wise list has been drawn up for this.

Among the list of activities, widespread publicity of Aarogya Setu features prominently in the charter for the majority of states, including West Bengal, Bihar, Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

The government’s push for Aarogya Setu has been evident since its launch. On Wednesday, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) issued an office memorandum stating that all officers and staff working in the central government should compulsorily download the app on their phones.

Fake news busted by the PIB’s fact-check unit — like on the price of Covid-19 testing kits, among others — is the other prominent activity to be publicised across most states.

A senior government official said the “priority” could be to get the masses to download the Aarogya Setu app. “But the effort might be futile if the target group is not reading newspapers or social media,” said the official, who did not wish to be named.

List for states

The state-specific list features advice against mass gatherings for Friday mosque prayers in Bihar, creating awareness on sanitising hands and wearing masks in slums and rural areas of Karnataka, and public messaging on the need for vocational training for the people in Uttarakhand.

For Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh, publicity of the message of social distancing is also on the list.

Promoting content to motivate frontline workers in Haryana and creating awareness against social stigma related to Covid-19 will be the other activities.

Also read: This Punjab district was Covid-free for 28 days. Then one truck driver entered


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