The BJP government’s preferred icon

BY SAI VINOD| IN Special Reports | 04/02/2016
Sardar Patel is energetically memorialized by this government, Ambedkar embraced, and Nehru snubbed,
discovers SAI VINOD using the Right to Information Act
Cartoon: Nituparna Rajbongshi

 

Who was the tallest among the founding fathers of the Indian Republic? If measured by the volume of government advertising allocated for commemorating his anniversary, Sardar Patel towers far above the other two, with B R Ambedkar coming a distant second. Jawaharlal Nehru barely figures in the state sanctioned memorializing spree.

In 2015 all three leaders had anniversaries of significance. The year marked the 140th anniversary of Sardar Patel’s birth, and the 125th anniversary for both B R Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru. Perhaps to compensate for the excesses of past Congress governments which advertised  copiously on the anniversaries of all Nehru-Gandhis to the diminution of other national leaders , the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been rubbing it in that Jawaharlal Nehru ranks at the bottom in its  commemoration priorities.

The Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) put in 1500-odd advertisement insertions worth Rs 8 crore for Patel’s anniversary. It spent Rs 5.3 lakh on Nehru for a grand total of four advertisements in English and Hindi dailies on November 14, 2015. But given the BJP’s efforts to appropriate Ambedkar for political mileage, the author  of the Indian Constitution fared far better than Nehru. There were 156 full page colour insertions in newspapers across the country to observe his 125th anniversary, as we have noted in an earlier story. Also, on December 6 last year the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment issued a full page colour advertisement to mark the 60thMahaparinirvan Diwas of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

The government also chose to divest Children’s Day of its customary association with the birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru. On November 14, 2015   223 half-page black and white advertisements were issued to newspapers across the country by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, announcing presentation of Child Day awards on November 14 on the occasion of Children’s Day “which is celebrated on the birth anniversary of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru”.   Nehru’s image did not figure though. Those of the prime minister and president, and of children, did. Total cost, Rs 62.53 lakh.

 

Comparative insertion of advertisements 

 

Sardar Patel's 140 birth anniversary

BR Ambedkar's 125 birth anniversary

Jawaharlal Nehru's 125 birth anniversary

No. of insertions

1525

156

4

Value of insertions

approx 8 cr

1.59 cr

5.33 lakhs

 

140th  BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF SARDAR PATEL

Number of ads published (All India)

Total amount

1,525

approx 8 cr

 

Details of advertisements

Number of ads

Size of the ads

Publish date

Colour/ Black and White

438

25x33 (half page)

31.10.2015

black and white

561

17x24 (quarter page)

31.10.2015

black and white

238

17x24 (quarter page)

31.10.2015

black and white

262

25x33 (half page)

30.10.2015

colour

26

25x16 (quarter page)

29.10.2015

colour

Total black and white adverts: 1,237
Total color adverts: 288

 

Periodicity and number of advertisements published

Dailies

Periodicals

Total advertisement

1287

238

1525

 

Total number of advertisements in dailies

Black & White (25x33)

Colour (25x33) (half page)

Black & White (17x24)

Colour (25x16)

Total number

438

262

561

26

1287

 

Total number of advertisements in periodicals

Black &White (17x24) (quarter page)

238

 

B R AMBEDKAR'S 125th  BIRTH ANNIVERSARY

Number of ads (All India)

Total amount

156

1.59 cr

 

Details of advertisements

Number and periodicity of ads (All India)

Size of the ads

Colour/ black & white

156 (dailies)

33x53 (full page)

colour

 

JAWAHARLAL NEHRU’S 125th BIRTH ANNIVERSARY

Number of ads (All India)

Total amount

4

5.33 lakhs

 

Details of advertisements

Number and periodicity of ads (All India)

Size of the ads

Colour/ black and white

4 (dailies)

17x24 (quarter page)

colour

 

How reliable is information given under RTI?  For the four advertisements which DAVP placed on Nehru’s birth anniversary the size given in the reply by DAVP was that they were of quarter page size.  But double checking with newspapers shows that they were actually half page advertisements.

On the number of advertisements issued on Nehru’s anniversary the first reply from the ministry of information and broadcasting said no specific advertisement had been released on Nehru’s birthday “through Campaign Div-II”  for Nehru’s birth anniversary except for the ads released about the Child Day awards. This was carried in the first story we did. But a separate and subsequent reply gave information about the four advertisements issued by DAVP commemorating Nehru.

Though three RTI queries were filed at the same time on the three leaders, the information on Sardar Patel was finally given only after an appeal.

 

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