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Group of Ministers suggests steps to stem ‘negative narrative’ on government

Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Ravi Shankar Prasad were part of the Group of Ministers that met six times between June 14 and July 9 last year. File Photo   | Photo Credit: PTI

In an effort to “neutralise” the negative narrative, a Group of Ministers (GoM), formed to fine-tune the “government communication”, has come out with various suggestions, including tracking “50 negative and 50 positive influencers” on the social media and to “neutralise the people who are writing against the Government without facts and set false narratives / spread fake news”.

It emerges that the decisions on capping 26% of the FDI (foreign direct investment) for the digital media and the new IT rules that have a separate section dealing with code of ethics for the Over The Top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix were result of the GoM’s deliberations. The FDI cap was essential the GoM felt, to constrict the foreign influence on the Indian media.

Group of Ministers suggests steps to stem ‘negative narrative’ on government
 

Information Technology (IT) Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani, Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Prakash Javadekar, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (MoS) for Finance Anurag Thakur and MoS for the Environment Ministry Babul Supriyo were part of the GoM, which met six times between June 14 and July 9 last year.

The GoM report quotes suggestions made by the Ministers.

Prasad for preparing list

Mr. Prasad, suggested, “A list of media personnel and prominent persons, who are pro our line of thought – both nationally and globally, should be prepared. Few eminent academicians, Vice Chancellors, retired Indian Foreign Service officers etc should be identified who can write our achievements and project our viewpoint.”

 

Ms Irani, who held the I&B portfolio in the previous Modi government, recommended, “We should track 50 negative and 50 positive influencers.” The suggestion has been accepted by the GoM and the I&B Ministry has been given the charge to implement it.

Mr. Javadekar felt that the government overall should learn from Prime Minister Modi to communicate with the common man. On the negative narrative, he said, “The narrative is fuelled by around 20-30 people. The lines keep changing many times on a single day.”

Naqvi for direct action

Mr. Naqvi suggested direct action against those writing against the government. “We should have a strategy to neutralise the people who are writing against the Government without facts and set false narratives / spread fake news,” he had advised.

Among other action points recommended by the GoM include enlarging the Prasar Bharati News Service into a “main line news agency”. Among the long- term agreed strategies include “coordination with schools of journalism as present students are the future journalists.”

Mr. Puri told the GoM that the journalists who are supportive of the government, even if they are now unemployed, should be roped in. As per the report, this suggestion would also be acted upon.

Mr. Thakur wanted the BJP and the Modi government to reach out to right-wing parties across the world to arrive at a common ground.

The GoM’s report was published by sections of the media. The Hindu also has a copy of it. There is so far no official word on its contents. Attempts were made to speak to Mr. Javadekar, I&B Secretary Amit Khare and Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer Shashi Shekhar Vempati, Press Information Bureau Director General Jaideep Bhatnagar but till the time of going to the press there was no comment from them. Minister Naqvi was the only one willing to speak on the issue. He however, expressed ignorance about the GoM’s suggestions. Responding to the question about the comments attributed to him in the report, he said, “I do not know anything about the report.” He refused to elaborate further.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 11:37:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/group-of-minister-spells-out-steps-to-neutralise-negative-narrative-against-government/article33989853.ece

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