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The carrot and stick policy of government advertisements works wonders on Indian public

Both Google and Facebook introduced ads transparency tools in India ahead of general elections to make ads funding public.

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bjp, ads spending, advertisement, political ads, elections hoardings, bjp, bharatiya janata party
Hoardings put up for Nasmaste Trump event in Gujarat | Image Courtesy: The Patrika

Indian population is largely emotional in nature because they have yet to develop scientific irritability and analyse things realistically. They support the things which feel good rather than what is truly good for them. Elections are almost a yearly affair in India and the survival of politicians depends on the results that can be produced within a short period of 1-4 years rather than over a long period.

And you can’t produce a visible change in a vast country like India in a short period. For example, every politician blows his own trumpet of making India a developed country (or provide the citizens with the same facilities like education, roads, jobs, healthcare like a developed country) within a few years, if they are voted to power.

However, the difference between the economies of India and a developed country is so huge that it would take several decades to bridge this gap. Hence, even if India keeps developing at 8% per annum, its per capita growth of Income after adjusting around 2% of population growth would be hardly 6%. With this rate, it would take a minimum of 50 years for India to catch up with the USA as it is today. I am sure that in the next 50 years the USA would be much ahead and the gap would be even more then.

Hence, any political leader cannot produce results within a short period and fulfil their promises. When people start asking questions regarding their promises, the best way is to make them emotional so that they can’t think rationally.

All you have to do is to praise some people, build some statues, build some temples, rename some cities, divide the states, and create hatred against some cast, communities or region. Incite riots or allege a particular clan of politicians, you as a politician are sorted for the best future ahead.

The best things about emotion are that it costs you practically nothing and the results are instant. Once emotions are invoked and the feeling of love or hatred is created, people become blind to rational thoughts and follow their leaders like the rats are following the Pied Piper of Hamelin leading to drowning.

To fool people or to cover the flaws, politicians hire agencies to give their image a makeover. Sandeep Goyal, the founder of Mumbai-based communications agency Mogae Media, said the BJP has had well-oiled social media machinery and thought-through strategies in place for the past 6-7 years.

Besides ad spends, they have been able to use platforms like WhatsApp, Signal and telegram which are not paid mediums, to a far greater extent. In 2014, Narendra Modi had a good social media base and it has only strengthened. It won’t be surprising if the gap in advertising spends between the two parties, the BJP and Congress, increases further.

Google enforced its election ads policy for India on February 20. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam was the second-highest spender on Google after BJP at Rs 4 crore. The real spending on digital is not just this. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of people employed for Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Actual digital-related spending is much larger than media spends.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has emerged as the single largest spender on political ads on Google, social media giant Facebook and other sister platforms of the companies, spending upwards of Rs 20 crore through its social accounts. Out of the total political ad spends on Google, YouTube and Google’s partner properties of about Rs 27 crore so far, 60% of the ads were paid for by BJP amounting to about Rs 17 crore, a whopping 500% more than the main political party in the opposition, the Indian National Congress, which spent about Rs 2.7 crore.

Both Google and Facebook introduced ads transparency tools in India ahead of general elections to make ads funding public. On Facebook, the BJP spent close to Rs 4 crore from February to May 11, over 200% more than Congress. The Congress party spent about Rs 1.3 crore on Facebook during the same period.

The other day I was driving down from Mumbai to Pune on some personal task. The stretch between Mumbai and Pune on the expressway is relatively free of heavy traffic. All the way I was seeing colours of billboards and flexes change from garish pink to thick yellow hues as I leave Mumbai and enter Pune. This monstrosity that defaces a peaceful city in general self-congratulatory messages lauding their party leadership (Usually but not restricted to the CM) Some even as insane as giant Birthday wishes erected by the chota mota chelas of the party looking for earning some brownie points from their political lordships.

Huge banners to small posters in thousands were on display on each corner, I was thinking there is no facility anywhere amid the COVID pandemic, but posters and image building were in full swing. Smiling faces fitted in “round” circles and or life-size images of chieftains donning colour coordinated party flag clothes ( the colours can be saffron, pink, yellow, khadi white, blue or red etc. smiling patronisingly at you declaring their great achievements in bold fonts.

I have no problem with these so-called ugly displays of showmanship. In fact, it amuses me at their desperate attempts at peddling lies of ‘achievements’ where there were none. And the poor language of the scriptwriters sometimes leads to hilarious moments of mirth and fun.  I also don’t have problems with party propaganda where the bills for billboards are footed from the party funds.

The advertisements are print, billboards or TV ads that come from assorted ministries broadcasting their ‘achievements’. So naturally, the bills have to be paid from the Government chest. What is culpable is the impunity with which these political parties in power splurge public money to promote themselves more particularly the party leader who occupies the throne of state or central.

One can imagine what would be the bill on national exchequer when all state governments’ ad bills are also added up. Who gives them this entitlement to abuse public funds?

A large portion of it obviously went into buying allegiance of pliable media to give it a positive spin or conversely threatening adamant publishing houses with stoppage of Government ads thus buying their silence. The carrot and stick policy of government advertisements has worked wonders on Indian media which proved more than willing to bend over backwards for the lure of lucre.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for past 16 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazine Beyond The News, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs. Besides journalism, she is also an Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author.
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