For effective Covid-19 messaging, I&B secy looks at local languages
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been at the forefront of this information outreach, addressing the nation on television and holding interactions to communicate the government’s perspective on the situation.Updated: Apr 28, 2020 07:12 IST
To ensure that the message of social distancing and the need to protect everyone from the coronavirus disease reaches each Indian in his or her own dialect and language will be the immediate priority of the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry, I&B secretary Amit Khare said on Monday.
The senior Indian Administrative Service officer took charge of the post at a time when the government is focusing increasingly on getting its communication strategy right in the midst of the pandemic before the 40-day lockdown to stop the spread of the disease ends on May 3.
“Our strategy is that the communication should reach the last person in their own local dialect and language,” Khare told HT in a phone conversation after taking charge.
This is the second time that the 1985 batch IAS officer of the Jharkhand cadre would be working as secretary in the I&B ministry. He held the position before being made secretary (school education) in the ministry of human resource development (HRD) in October 2019. Khare is also holding charge as secretary (higher education) in the HRD ministry.
The veteran civil servant returns to the I&B ministry, which decides the Union government’s communication outreach, at a time the government is trying to increase public awareness of Covid-19, and explain the need for the people to strictly follow lockdown measures it has put in place to curb the spread of the disease.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been at the forefront of this information outreach, addressing the nation on television and holding interactions to communicate the government’s perspective on the situation. On Sunday, in his Mann Ki Baat radio address, Modi again focused on the coronavirus and warned against any sense complacence in the battle against the pandemic.
With the government focusing on Covid-19 hotspots and devising different strategies for different districts depending on the extent of the spread of the virus, the I&B ministry is seeking to tailor its communication strategy to local needs and address the people in the dialect and language they understand best -- a challenge given India’s diversity.
Another challenge the ministry faces is misinformation about the coronavirus disease being spread on social media.
The traditional media -- newspapers and broadcasters-- have, meanwhile, been hit by the adverse impact of the virus in the form of a drop in advertising and circulation.
“Print, digital and electronic media are playing an important role in the battle against the pandemic Covid-19. They are also facing challenges, both in terms of outreach and in terms of their business model. We will try to resolve these issues,” Khare said in response to a question.