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‘ Beware of false knowledge : it is more dangerous than ignorance’
George Bernard Shaw

Even before official announcement of dates of elections in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh or elections to the lok sabha, campaigns, rallies and advertising have already started. Politicians are already beginning to woo voters. Parties have begun to promote fake news and disseminate false information with contrived statistical data to convince people. Huge money is being spent on advertisements.

Money wasted

The BJp seems to be in the forefront on spending money for advertisement and publicity. Aam Admi Party member Ashutosh questioned in 2014 itself on spending Rs.400 crore on ads ( Aam Admi Party question BJP’s 400 crore spending on ads, February 20,2014, indiatoday.in – video) . Also, the party spent Rs. 2,000 crore for 3 year anniversary according to Sisodia. (BJP Govt. Spent 2,000 crore on 3 year anniversary : Sisodia, Shorbori Purkayastha, 27 – 5 – 17, thequint.com). The article also states that CAG report accused Delhi AAP government of spending a total of 33.40 crore on releasing advertisements outside Delhi, violating advertisement guidelines issued by SC. In 2015 , SC issued guidelines to ruling politicians from misusing taxpayers’ money on advertisements.
According to reply to an RTI activist Anil Galgali, the central government has splurged Rs. 4343.26 on advertisement and publicity in media. ( Edited by Arun Nair,May 14,2018 www.ndtv.com). The Bureau of Outreach and Communication( BOC) Financial Advisor Tapan Sutradhar in his replies, gave figures of government spending on publicity, print publicity, electronic media publicity, outdoor publicity, etc. Mr. Galgali said that after the criticism of opposition on government’ s squandering of scarce public resources, it had to finally cut down spending. However, the spending is still higher this financial year when compared to its first year in office. The spending on publicity is high.

Productive use

With the money spent on advertisements and publicity, the NDA government could have provided mid-day meals for 45.7 million children for a year. One day wages for 200 million workers under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme could have been disbursed. About 6 million latrines could have been constructed or at least 10 mars missions could have been undertaken. The government spent 4,480 crore($753.99 million) on advertising its flagship schemes in the 52 months between April 2014 and July 2018 according to information available to Rajya Sabha by Rajavardhan Rathore , MoS information and Broadcasting. (Rs.4,880 cr spent by BJP ….by Shreya Raman, dated August 10, 2018 , firstpost.com). This amount is double the amount spent by its predecessor in 37 months. According to indiaSpend, many welfare measures like financing secondary school education, building roads, electricity generation could have been done. There has been a rise of 34% in spending on publicity and advertisement from 980 crors in 2014-15 to 1,134 crore in 2017-18. The trend may continue this year.

People must question

Spending enormous amounts on mere ads should be questioned. Publicising welfare schemes is necessary because people should know the provisions: but spending on just propaganda and achievements of the party is a wasteful expenditure. Since peoples’ funds are involved, they must question whether spending large amounts is essential for the government. Taxpayers money must be used judiciously keeping in view the welfare of the people and not promoting the chances of victory of ruling party in the next elections. Civil rights groups and educated intellectuals should explain the importance of judicious spending of public money by the government.

The writer, from anywhere and everywhere, believes that freedom is birthright and the people of kashmir, adivasis of central India or tribes of Manipur and Nagaland and other marginalised sections are struggling to have their rights on ‘ jal, jangal and jameen’ that are being ruthlessly snatched away by the corporates and state

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