Have you heard about Congress led UPA government’s flagship project - Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) that is meant to guarantee livelihood and security to villagers across India? Well I was not aware till the time I had read the story covered by Deccan Herald.
Now the recent development is that the government is pushing states to log on Facebook and spread the word about its flagship project. The move is being looked at as a way to do an image makeover by the government considering the 2014 polls. Interestingly, the whole move has been initiated after a recent audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) revealed lack of awareness about MGNREGS in villages.
From the time the findings have been revealed the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) has come out with a comprehensive Information, Education and Communication (IEC) strategy exclusively so that there is an increased level of awareness about the scheme. The strategy that has been formed reflects the increased initiatives on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
MoRD had opened a Facebook page last year for MGNREGS which has close to thousand fans. The page has been active for some time now by updating activities that are happening at different places. Additionally, states like Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram, Punjab, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, etc. have been cajoled to launch similar pages that would showcase the work being done in the respective states under the scheme.
The decision that was taken earlier this week during a meeting of the Performance Review Committee at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi also emphasized to show activeness on Facebook by posting constant updates and also make sure that they link their respective Facebook pages and that of the Central ministry to the MGNREGS websites of their Rural Development departments.
Another key focus is to connect with the “youth and other stakeholders”. However, I am yet to find any state driven page that is promoting MGNREGS except by Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh. Even though both the states have launched Facebook pages but they are dead in terms of activeness - a common problem for most of the government led social media campaigns.
The move to update the netizens of the country about such schemes via social media is not a bad one but why has this initiative come after the CAG’s findings and at a time when the elections are round the corner. Social media campaigns need time and it won’t happen if it is forced upon people. Else we are going to witness half-hearted attempts like we recently saw on the Facebook pages that were being run by the Delhi Municipal Corporation.