Amith Prabhu: 10 on 10 for the Modi govt on PR, but…

01 Jun,2015

By Amith Prabhu


The central government completed one year last week. The past 12 months have seen much fanfare around several schemes announced periodically. We have seen announcement of Clean India, Digital India and several other schemes. However, 12 months is 20% of the time the government gets as part of the mandate and the heavy lifting needs to be done during this period.


However, in the 52 weeks gone by I am personally yet to experience any difference from this regime in a positive way. The attacks on churches, the ban on beef, and the careless utterances by politicians of the ruling party are the only thing I can remember. A great project such as Clean India could have been implemented within six months after it was announced with three basic steps.


Hiring cleanliness marshalls or Swachh Brigade in a hundred Assembly constituencies in the first phase, deploy dustbins (there are hundreds of corporates who will be willing to sponsor these) and install awareness messages to create a mega-cleanliness drive. I live in Gurgaon which has a BJP municipal corporation, a BJP MLA and a BJP MP who is also a Union Minister. Even if the pilot was started in a city like Gurgaon the Government would have walked the talk because it has everything going for it in this part of the world.


Let me take another promise made by the government. This one is about setting a system that eliminates corruption. Even the basics on this one are not in place and 1/5th of the term has ended. If the system worked then the government should challenge citizens to experience a corruption-free system which is unlikely given that the government has done nothing on the black money issue based on its electoral promises.


Well, this column is completely based on the Public relations premise of the government which is outstanding given the way it has connected with stakeholders, created content and catalyzed moments. No other government in history has used communications tools available at its disposal to reach out. Most of the time citizens are not bothered whether promises are fulfilled as long as the one who made the promise is communicating.


The Prime Minister has used owned media – radio, television and social networks to their full potential. He has ensured his figurative Number 2. Arun Jaitley to write periodical blogs on Facebook. He has set the agenda for private news channels every single day. He has created a feeling of fear among those whom he does not consider his voters.


So as a Public Relations deployment this government gets 10 on 10. However. Public Relations can be sustainable for the doers. And doers show in the first 100 to 200 days. A lot of tall talk has taken place. It is possible that the government will keep the best for last and maybe unleash its potential in the last 110 to 200 days. In that case we will need to wait and watch.


I’m neither hopeful nor hopeless because if a government does its basics and gets corruption in check, creates more jobs and ensures law and order we will be in good shape. But until these happen we will have to wait with our fingers crossed. There could be someone else who looks at this government that has achieved a great deal in the past one year. But one look at the manifesto will say otherwise.


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