Budget 2021

Budget 2018: I&B Ministry tracks social media response

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As Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stood up on Thursday to deliver the Budget speech this year, a real-time monitoring of public online conversations around the word “Budget” was being carried out by a small unit set up by Minister Smriti Irani in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

The longer than usual budget speech spawned many talking points and reactions, much of which was tagged online by this group of around six IT professionals, with interesting results.

Monitoring impact

“We are basically monitoring online conversations on open forums like Twitter, public Facebook pages and comments on blogs etc., for any chatter on government programmes and how they are being received to sharpen government communications. For example, during the Budget speech, while the volume of chatter on raising farm income was high among those who usually kept an interest in the subject, the health insurance scheme showed dots of conversation coming up across the country. The volume shot up dramatically,” said a person involved in the project.

The tracking shows not just the volume of chatter, but also breaks it down to geographical location and whether the comments are positive, negative or neutral.

What this would do, according to officials in the I&B ministry, is give pointed directions to where government communication could be focussed and some veracity in the feedback.

“For example, when it came to announcing the standard deduction of ₹40,000 on health and transport expenses to salaried classes, it was prefaced by the Finance Minister that he would make no changes in personal income tax slabs. That overshadowed the later standard deduction announcement and a lot of the chatter was on how there was nothing for the middle class in the budget. For government communication therefore, it was an interesting input when talking about the Budget later on,” said an official.

“This is just to arm you with genuine feedback so you don’t go in blind when talking about government programmes and how they are perceived,” he added.

The reports of this unit are sent to concerned departments to take note of.

The unit was set up just this week and may expand later. In fact, there have been reports that a “social media communication hub” may be set up in regional centres including some districts, and that the Broadcast Engineering Consultant India Limited (BECIL), a PSU under the Ministry, had floated tenders for the supply of software for the project. But it is not clear whether the two projects are the same.


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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 3:12:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/budget/budget-2018-ib-ministry-tracks-social-media-response/article22636731.ece

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