The UPA government’s ambitious plan to counter online propaganda in the wake of corruption scandals and improve its social media image has not found favour with the country’s top advisory body, the Planning Commission.
The information and broadcasting ministry had circulated a cabinet note seeking the financial approval for starting an online newspaper, considering the huge reliance of people on the online media for news and views.
The ministry felt that the government newspaper would be an effective tool to tackle the negative image of the government and will also help in disseminating news faster to people with rising internet penetration.
The plan panel, however, had a different view.
It thought that the government’s online newspaper will not click. “Considering the low credibility of the government, the project is unlikely to succeed… There is a huge people-government trust deficit,” said a senior planning commission functionary.
The panel believes that instead of starting a new wing, the ministry should concentrate on improving functioning of its existing units to have better impact of the communication strategy. The ministry’s proposal is said to have been rejected by plan panel deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
The panel wants senior government functionaries to use the existing online media tools to project the government in a better perspective. Ahluwalia had been on Google hangout and National Innovation Council chairperson Sam Pitroda had held India’s first twitter press conference. The panel wants other ministers to follow suit.
The ministry’s proposal to set up a newspaper was unique as no government — state or Centre — runs a newspaper. It had been a norm in the government not to start a newspaper as having an independent media was a model adopted by India.