October 31, 2011

life in general: another example of tax-payers' money being spent on wrong things

Many newspapers and other media channels are flooded today with advertisements issued by various ministries in the central government and a few state governments themselves marking the 27th death anniversary of former Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi. 

While reading the general newspaper, The Times of India, today morning I saw several half-page such ads. The ministers heading the ministries which have issued these ads are obviously not paying for the ads from theirs, or their party's (Congress'), pockets. It is coming from the government funds which is mainly tax money received from public, companies and other businesses.

Clearly, this is a obnoxious use of government funds. 

This particular blog focussed on Indian media has even gone into the details, provided some more examples from recent past, and made an estimate of the amount involved in the ads. Here is what that blog is saying:


Indira: 64 ads, 32 pages vs Patel: 9 ads, 3 pages

31 October 2011 
PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: After the advertising blitzkrieg to mark Rajiv Gandhi‘s birth and death anniversaries, and the death anniversary of his grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru earlier this year, Union ministries and Congress-led State governments and departments have once again splurged heavily to mark Indira Gandhi‘s death anniversary today.
In the 12 newspapers surveyed, there are 64 advertisements of various sizes, amounting to approximately 31½ published pages to mark the assassination of the former prime minister on this day, 27 years ago.
In contrast, Vallabhbhai Patel, the late Union home minister, whose birth anniverary too falls on October 31, gets 9 advertisements in the same 12 newspapers, amounting to 3 published pages. While there are multiple advertisements for Indira Gandhi, no paper has more than one ad for Patel.
The breakup of the Indira Gandhi ads are as under:
Hindustan Times: 22-page main issue; 9 Indira Gandhi ads amounting to 4¼ broadsheet pages
The Times of India: 30-page issue; 13 ads amounting to 6¼ broadsheet pages
Indian Express: 22-page issue; 9 ads amounting to 4 broadsheet pages
Mail Today (compact): 36-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 2¾ compact pages
The Hindu: 24-page issue; 8 ads amounting to 4 broadsheet pages
The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 7 ads amounting to 3¼ broadsheet pages
The Statesman: 16-page issue; 4 ads amounting to 2 broadsheet pages
The Telegraph: 22-page issue; 5 ads amounting to 2½ broadsheet pages
The Economic Times: 26-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ pages
Business Standard: 14-page issue; 2 ads amouning to 1 page
Financial Express: 20-page issue; 1 ad amounting to half a page
Mint (Berliner): 24-page issue; 0 ads
This computation is only for 12 English newspapers; many other English papers have been left, as indeed has the entire language media which are more numerous than the English ones, several times over.
Among the 13 advertisers wishing the dear departed leader happy birthday this year are the ministries of information and broadcasting, commer and industry, steel, women and child development, health and family welfare, human resources development, development of north east region, and social justice and empowerment.
The state governments advertising their love are those of Rajasthan, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh. Besides, most newspapers carry an advertisement inserted by the Congress party.
All told, so far, this year, tax payers money have been spent in buying 265 advertisements amounting to 132 published pages in the 12 newspapers.
Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:
“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

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