At the Chintan Shivir in the beginning of the year, the Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal had suggested that the Congress party would need 100 crores to deal with BJP on social media. Not sure if the allocated amount was passed but in recent times we have seen a massive push by the party. There have been plans to give high end gadgets to babus and to set up a social media cell. However, the proposal from Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry, has encountered a major road block with The Planning Commission objecting the initiative, as reported by TOI.
The proposal from I&B Ministry has not only been called as an expensive execution but also the setting up of another social media cell has been questioned, since there is already an existing Press Information Bureau (PIB). The commission has addressed the matter to finance ministry saying that – “The magnitude of procurement of such items is questionable.”
According to reports, I&B ministry was allotted Rs. 22.50 crore for the 12th five year plan for the social media cell. The funds were allocated to increase outreach of the UPA government’s achievements in the rural hinterland. However, things took a sharp turn after Delhi witnessed endless rapes and corruption cases. So to prevent the government from being bashed on social media and to push positive publicity, it was decided to push spends in to online medium. However the spends in social media have increased and the plan to buy costly gadgets has raised eyebrows.
Besides this, the proposal of a separate cell also seems unnecessary since the PIB is better-equipped to handle social media and different departments have their own social media cells. The creation of another cell would lead to more costs and the commission has questioned the scheme since most of the ministers have their own social media cells.
The questions being raised by the commission are not only rational but it also makes sense to have social media cells by individual ministers to address their respective departments. Creating a new cell by I&B Ministry is only going to increase costs and is a measure to rehabilitate more officials and bureaucrats.
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