By Dheeraj Mishra
The Narendra Modi government has spent about Rs 5,000 crore on advertising during its tenure of nearly four-and-a-half years, as much as the Manmohan Singh government spent in the ten years it was in power.
According to information received from the Bureau of Outreach and Communication (BOC) through a Right to Information application filed by activist Ramvir Tanwar, the amount that has been spent in propagating the schemes of the Central government from mid-2014 to September 2018 amounts to Rs 4996.61 crore.
The BOC, which works under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, is responsible for advertising the work of various ministries and departments of the government of India. Some autonomous institutions also funnel their advertisements through the BOC.
Out of the total expenditure of nearly Rs 5,000 crore, Rs 2,136.39 crores were spent for advertising in the print media. An amount of Rs 2,211.11 crore has been spent in advertising through electronic media. Apart from this, Rs 649.11 crore has been spent in outdoor publicity.
According to information received through the RTI request, Rs 470.39 crore was spent in advertising through electronic media in the year 2014-15. In the year 2015-16, this rose to 541.99 crore, and in 2016-17 to Rs 613.78 crore. In 2017-18, Rs 474.76 crore was spent while so far in 2018-19, the amount spent is Rs 110.16 crore.
In the same way, expenditure on outdoor publicity went from Rs. 81.27 crore in 2014-15, to Rs 118.51 crore in 2015-16, Rs 186.37 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 208.54 crore in 2017-18. In the current financial year, a total of Rs. 54.39 crore has so far been spent on outdoor advertising.
The greatest amount has been spent in print advertising. The government has spent a lot of money in outdoor publicity for schemes like Bharat Nirman, Yoga, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and Aadhaar. A total of Rs 3.27 crore has been spent since 2014 on advertisements of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDIA).
In July this year, Information and Broadcasting minister Rajyavardhana Rathore told the Rajya Sabha that in the past three years, a total of 52 advertisements worth Rs 60.94 crore were issued in 2015-16, Rs 147.96 crore spent on 142 advertisements in 2016-17, Rs 83.26 crore spent on 309 advertisements in 2017-18 to promote the Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Smart City Mission and the Model Gram Yojana.
‘Funds available for publicity but not for environment’
Ramvir Tanwar, a resident of Greater Noida who worked on the issue of resuscitation of ponds, sought information about expenditure on advertisements by the Modi government through RTI. He says the government is spending public money without restraint for its own publicity, but when it comes to allocating money for the environment, it says it does not have adequate funds.
He said, “The government does not have the money to fight pollution but it has enough for self-publicity. Thanks to inadequate funding for the environment, many cities in India are joining the list of the most polluted cities in the world.”
The Modi government has faced questions about the money spent on its own publicity almost from the beginning of its tenure. Especially since the budgets it presented saw the amounts allocated for several social schemes cut.
The Centre has greatly reduced the amount allocated for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers. While Rs 570 crore had been allocated for the year 2013-14, only Rs 5 crore was allocated in the year 2017-18. Not a single rupee has been released under this scheme in the past four years.
According to a report from Factly, the amount spent on publicity during the NDA’s tenure is much more than what was spent by the UPA government.
The UPA government spent an average of Rs 504 crore rupees on advertising every year during its ten-year tenure.
By contrast, the Modi government has spent an average of Rs 1,202 crore on advertising and publicity each year. This, is more than double the annual amount spent on advertisements during Manmohan Singh’s time as prime minister.
In the ten years of the UPA government, a total of Rs 5,040 crore was spent on publicity. In the nearly four-and-a-half years of the Modi government, a total of Rs 4,996.61 crore has already been spent.
Article first published on theWire.in