Not happy with bland press briefs doled out by ministries, the Narendra Modi government has decided to scale up its communication paraphernalia to publicise Cabinet decisions.
From roping in “influencers” and “prominent voices” who have worked on a particular issue to organising “nukkad nataks” and putting up hoardings for last mile publicity, sending personalised SMSes, WhatsApp and video messages — the Cabinet Secretariat has directed all central ministries to leverage the “range and reach” of mass, social and personal medias to aggressively communicate a cabinet decision.
The cabinet secretariat has also amended its handbook on writing cabinet notes and incorporated these new measures, which will now become part of the drill.
Along with their cabinet note, respective ministries will have to send a detailed communication plan with focus on specific target groups, beneficiaries and regions, a May 19 communiqué issued by the cabinet secretariat reads.
“With assembly elections due in several states and parliamentary elections two years away, it is clear that the government does not want to leave anything to chance to showcase its work.”
“Where the cabinet/CCEA decision furthers the philosophy of the government such as Minimum Government Maximum Governance, Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas, Ek Bharat Shresth Bharat…this aspect may be highlighted by the ministries/departments in their communication plan,” the cabinet secretariat’s note states.
In interactions with his cabinet colleagues, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly said that there was inadequate coverage of important government initiatives, and ministries are not doing much to disseminate information.
“With assembly elections due in several states and parliamentary elections two years away, it is clear that the government does not want to leave anything to chance to showcase its work; so the need to rework its communication strategy,” said a senior government official who did not wish to be quoted.
Currently, all Cabinet press briefs highlight just the details of the proposal, their possible impact and implementation strategy. But now the communication plan will vary depending on the importance of the decision that has been approved.
“It would also be advisable to reach out to influencers who have worked on a particular issue or are influencing voices on the particular issue. For example, on the National Health Policy, tweets and Facebook posts by leading doctors and health experts can have a strong impact,” the circular states.
For a social sector scheme, the communication plan will be of a different dimension altogether and may involve a multi-pronged strategy, including using regional language to amplify the message.
“When cabinet/CCEA decision affects a particular state/UT, prominent voices and media influencers from state/UT can be reached out to for sharing the salient features of the decisions,” the circular states.
For last mile publicity, the ministries have also been directed to write letters to elected representatives of local bodies.