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AP Photo/Press Trust of India
Publicity sweepstakes.
BLITZKRIEG

The Modi government spent $52 million on just publicising its flagship schemes last year

By Manu Balachandran

Prime minister Narendra Modi’s mastery over the message is, by now, well known.

So it didn’t surprise many when a series of new government schemes were also backed by a blitzkrieg of media campaigns to promote them. These included flagship projects such as the Swachh Bharat Mission to help clean up the country, and the Make in India initiative to boost domestic manufacturing.

But exactly how much the dispensation banks on high-profile advertisements was revealed last week when the government released data on the cost incurred on these. In all, it spent Rs350.46 crore ($52.7 million) on showcasing its various schemes in fiscal 2016.

A massive chunk from the government’s exchequer was spent on Modi’s pet project, Swachh Bharat, which accounted for 83% of all advertisement cost. But there have been persistent doubts over whether the project has delivered the desired results.

Other initiatives that were backed by big advertising bucks include Indradhanush—a vaccination program to cover all children in the country by 2020—and the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, a crop insurance scheme.

Meanwhile, the advertisement spent on the much hyped “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” scheme—a program to educate India’s girls—was cut by almost half in the last financial year.

Overall, in the last fiscal, the government increased its spend on publicity by about 20%.