To give a publicity boast to the UPA government before elections in five states and general elections in 2008, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is planning to rejuvenate the field publicity units, that were debunked on the basis of recommendations of the Expenditure Reforms Commission (ERC).
The government had stopped financial allocation for the field units from the current financial year in a bid to curb the ministry’s expenditure. However, the decision did not go well with the Left parties, as large number of people would have lost their jobs and many in West Bengal. Moreover, the decision had a direct implication for Left parties as many of the units being closed were in West Bengal.
In wake of the resistance from the Left parties and the government feeling paucity of a publicity unit at the ground level, the ministry has now mooted the proposal to revive 300 field publicity units in the country. Each unit is headed by a gazetted officer and the team of about 10-15 members is hired locally.
According to ministry officials, the field publicity units were created in 1959 was an aim to publicise government policies and create awareness about the programmes in rural areas. However, the Expenditure Reforms Commission found that these units had lost value in wake of emergence of radio and television and new modes of mass media.
Now, the ministry believes that the commission’s view was not correct. "The present day mass media is more about entertainment than information about government policies. Most of the new programmes of the UPA government are for development in rural areas and therefore we need these units," a ministry official explained.
Officials also said the need for publicity in rural areas of government schemes was being as elections in five states will be held next year and general elections in 2008. "We have plans to undertake extensive publicity programmes for all the flagship programmes of the UPA government," an official said.
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