New Delhi: When it was launched on 31 October 2015, the Narendra Modi government’s Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat programme had one objective — to promote national integration by engaging states and union territories in cultural, academic and economic exchanges.
Four years on, the government wants to use the reach of the programme to push through another objective — promote 20 of its flagship schemes by carrying out a multimedia publicity blitzkrieg right down to the districts where the Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat is active.
The schemes include the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Digital India, Poshan Abhiyaan, the Mudra scheme, Ayushman Bharat, Jan Dhan Yojana, Indradhanush and the Swachh Bharat Mission among others.
The publicity efforts will include highlighting success stories of the beneficiaries and conducting different countrywide activities on the schemes.
The decision follows a high-level meeting at the Prime Minister’s office on 17 October attended by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and other senior officials of various ministries that was to provide a push for the Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat.
All the stakeholders will have to submit an action taken report to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) that is the nodal ministry for the programme.
Announced by the PM on 15 October 2015, the Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat programme purely aimed to promote national integration, by celebrating the “unity in diversity of the country”.
It was launched on 31 October, Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary that is celebrated as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas.
Under the programme, every state and union territory in the country is paired with another in a particular year and both ensure “reciprocal interaction between people” and promote an exchange of culture, experiences and practices among them.
Big publicity drive of Modi govt’s flagship schemes
According to highly placed sources in the government, it was decided in the latest meeting that while the existing format of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat will continue, it would be scaled up by identifying and integrating nearly 20 flagship schemes of the Modi government in it.
The HRD ministry has also decided to maintain an annual calendar to keep a tab on the activities to be undertaken on the schemes. It has been decided that the planned activities will be first held in the states before culminating with a national level event on 31 October.
Following the 17 October meeting, the Information and Broadcasting ministry had suggested actively involving state-owned broadcasters, Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR), in promoting the integration programme and the schemes brought under it.
Sources said each regional news unit of DD News will produce and telecast at least five success stories on beneficiaries of the identified schemes in the local language, which they will share with their partner states. The partner states are to then translate these and share them in their local languages.
According to the ministry, reports on these beneficiaries would be an “inspiration” for the people of other states. All such success or the good news stories on the government schemes will then be uploaded on social media for a wider reach, ThePrint has learnt.
The ministry has drawn up a detailed plan on which states will produce stories on which schemes and the frequency of such stories.
Other suggestions for Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat
The meeting also saw suggestion to improve the Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat.
PM Modi had on 12 October held a meeting on the programme and its average performance so far. It is also understood to be one of the reasons behind why the former school education secretary Rina Ray was abruptly sent back to her parent cadre earlier this month.
As part of one revamp, DD and AIR will now have to podcast 100 sentences in different languages for 100 days for students to learn the languages of the paired states. They will also keep aside dedicated time for the broadcast of the Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat programme in 12 different themes.
The HRD ministry has also proposed making films on the activities under the programme which could be uploaded on websites on articles on paired states in regional newspapers.
A review of the paired states was suggested to ensure that culturally similar states are not paired together and states as different as J&K and Tamil Nadu are paired together. The visit of legislators and public representatives among the paired states was also suggested.
The government will also explore the possibility of exchange of state armed police and CAPFs among the paired states and also an exchange of administrative personnel among the paired states, to push the programme. It will explore if travel concessions could be given to people travelling between paired states.
It was also suggested that a permanent implementation and monitoring mechanism for the programme be set up as part of a revised action plan for the programme. Headed by the cabinet secretary, the initiative will involve secretaries of all ministries for regular monitoring of the implementation of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat.
The Ministry of Defence will also explore if armed forces could take up various initiatives of the programme.
- The copy has been updated to incorporate the fact that the PM held a meeting on the Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat on 12 October.