While trying to come to terms with the death of a family member, do not be surprised if a condolence letter from none other than the chief minister comes your way.
This is part of a public relations exercise undertaken by the Punjab government, which will keep the information and public relations department staff on their toes throughout the year.
A thoughtful gesture, one might be inclined to think. But it is a herculean task for the PR staff, who are required to note down the contact numbers of the bereaved families from the obituary advertisements published in various newspapers everyday, and then call them or dispatch them letters to convey condolences on chief minister Parkash Singh Badal's behalf.
This task, which is at present being managed by the state information and public relations department in Chandigarh, will soon be delegated to district public relations officers (DPROs).
"It is not easy for us to make calls to all the people as a large number of obituary messages are published in newspapers on a daily basis," said a PR official in Chandigarh.
Talking to Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity, a DPRO said that the exercise would work out to be costly. "We have limited resources and calling so many people everyday will add to our telephone bills. Besides, the process is too tedious and time-consuming," he said.
The DPROs, who are responsible for circulating the department's monthly magazines, Advance (in English) and Jagriti (in Hindi and Punjabi), will also be assigned the task of dispatching condolence letters to bereaved families in their respective districts.
How the people of the state respond to this novel idea remains to be seen.