Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.(PTI)
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.(PTI)

Action being taken on GOM communication report, says Govt

“Action taken on the GOM report is still continuing,” the RTI response said, adding that “it maybe premature to disclose the details as it would serve no public interest.”
By Anisha Dutta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 14, 2021 04:17 AM IST

The government is working on recommendations made by the working Group of Ministers on communication (GOM) formed last year to improve the centre’s media outreach strategy, the ministry of Information and Broadcasting said in response to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by Hindustan Times.

“Action taken on the GOM report is still continuing,” the RTI response said, adding that “it maybe premature to disclose the details as it would serve no public interest.”

Hindustan Times, which reviewed the GOM report, on December 8 reported that the Union government was working on a strategy to overhaul its media and public outreach, with a group of ministers (GoM) comprising nine Union ministers recommending a focus on 10 key areas as well as detailing ways in which criticism could be addressed and positive messaging can be spread wider.

“The final deliberations of the GOM will have to be cleared by the Cabinet,” a senior government official said on condition of anonymity.

The recommendations also focused on social media discourse, saying there is a need to constantly track 50 “negative influencers”, and to engage with 50 “positive influencers” to put the “government’s view point in the right perspective.”

The RTI filed by HT seeking details on the action taken by the GOM was disposed by the First Appellate Authority citing section 8 1 (I) of the RTI Act, 2005. The section refers to cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers: “ Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over: Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed,” it states.

The GoM comprises Cabinet ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Smriti Irani, Prakash Javadekar, S Jaishankar, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, and ministers of state Kiren Rijiju, Hardeep Singh Puri, Anurag Thakur and Babul Supriyo.

The group made its first presentation to the Prime Minister, who guided the GoM with his insights and gave vital inputs, the December report noted.

“After detailed deliberations, it was decided to identify 10 big narratives of the Government. These narratives are reflective of the good work / initiatives taken by the Government for the welfare of the people. It was agreed to identify the strategies that can be adopted to take these messages to the people and to suggest the specific action points by which it can be done,” the GOM report said.

The 10 areas identified were: India at 75; plans to make the country a $5 trillion economy; initiatives under Aatmanirbhar Bharat; the overall Sabka Saath, Sabha Vikar, Sabha Vishwas philosophy of the government; Digital India; the Swach Bharat, Swasth Bharat campaign; welfare schemes for women; Skill India; the focus on sustainable development; and the projection of the country’s soft power.

The report attracted criticism from the opposition. CPM chief Sitaram Yechury earlier this year said: “So much focus on managing headlines, spin and PR, all this in the middle of a global pandemic, record and growing unemployment and economic collapse.”

The report also included recomendations made by the members of the GOM . Anurag Thakur suggested that “right-wing parties of other countries need to be roped in so that some common ground could be found”.Aviation minister Hardeep Puri said “we are in confrontation situation with political interest and commercially-backed interests” and emphasised the “strong need to deal with the international media and shape the global narrative”.Union minister for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi Proposed to identify a “strategy to neutralise people who are writing against the government without facts and set false narratives/ spread fake news.”

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