Rajiv Gandhi: 69 ads over 41 pages in 12 papers

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: On the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi‘s 20th death anniversary today, different ministries of the Congress-led UPA government are falling over each other to demonstrate that the “collective flame of political sycophancy” continues to burn brightly and shamelessly.

While Rajiv Gandhi’s widow Sonia Gandhi and their son Rahul Gandhi talk of “austerity” when it suits them, nearly a dozen Union ministries and a couple of State governments have released tens of ads through the government-controlled Department of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP) to remind Indians that such a man as he walked this earth.

In eleven English news and business papers published out of New Delhi, there were 65 advertisements amounting to 38¼ pages, glorifying The Great Leader, without whom India wouldn’t have entered the 21st century.

Hindustan Times: 24-page issue; 9 RG ads amounting to 5¼ broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 32-page issue; 10 ads amounting to 6 broadsheet pages

Indian Express: 28-page issue; 10 ads amounting to 5 broadsheet pages

Mail Today (compact): 42-page issue; 8 ads amounting to 7 compact pages

The Hindu: 22-page issue; 6 ads amounting to 3½ broadsheet pages

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 7 ads amounting to 3½ broadsheet pages

The Statesman: 16-page isuse; 4 ads amounting to 2½ broadsheet pages


The Economic Times: 16-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1¼ broadsheet pages

Business Standard: 14-page issue; 4 ads amouning to 1¾ broadsheet pages

Financial Express: 24-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ broadsheet pages

Mint (Berliner): 12-page issue; 1 ad amounting to one compact page

Among the departments and ministries seeking to remind the nation of Rajiv Gandhi’s magical powers are the department of information and publicity; the ministries of commerce and industry, tourism, human resource development, social justice & empowerment, power, micro small and medium industries, information and broadcasting, steel; the state governments of Haryana and Rajasthan; and Rajiv Gandhi centre for biotechnology.

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.”

On his birthday in August last year, The Telegraph reported that “Union ministries released more ads on Rajiv Gandhi’s birthday today than on the anniversaries of the rest of India’s Prime Ministers put together in the past one year, Press Information Bureau sources said.”

For the record, The Telegraph received four ads amounting to 2½ pages this year.


  1. yeap. reading newspaper today was painful.

  2. Mn seth

    You should be ashamed of pick and choose stories on this issue. You should be ashamed of not writing such stories when such ads come about A B Vajpaee n other bjp leaders etc in papers when NDA was in power. Don’t think yourself so dot less, everybody knows from which party you receive money to write such stories. Rajiv Gandhi was former PM of India and he had sacrificed his life for India. Such ads do remind us of this man’s greatness and revolutionary efforts in the field of telecommunications. You won’t get anything out of it, but it will surely amuse only anti-cong forces. Be positive in ur approach

    1. ms s srivastava

      sir u seem to be a congress man… dont u see the point where NDA did it or UPA is doing it, it is all from taxpayers money….goverment misusing money … mine and yours and all others who pay tax. in your sycophancy towards the Gandhi family… do not overlook misdeeds of the current govt. by the way neither i am paid by anyone to write this comment or do i belong to any party … i am ‘the common man tired of misuse of my hard earned money which i pay in tax’

  3. Ravi

    I want to express my opinion apart from the financial aspect. It is indeed proud to honor our leader but it confuses when a single newspaper is giving loads of space to different sponsors to commemorate a single man on different pages. No offence. It would seem more appropriate if all are praising one man united on a single newspaper in a single large article. They can join hands despite there differences at this time and publish a common article. It appears okay when there are separate remembrances on each different issues/ magazines/ papers etcetera but to find many in a same paper appears somewhat non-unifying. It is not wrong when they are doing it but I am talking about what seems more appropriate to me.

    And I want to add that I am not talking about just Shri Rajiv Gandhi but all remembrances or national events in general.

    Shri Rajiv Gandhi’s death was a day no one in my family can ever forget. It was a bad Sunday I remember when I was a teenager. Everyone felt bad about it. It is just that I found today time and intention to make an effort to comment. I even support a supplementary paper with articles, ads etcetera in his memory but spaces strewn randomly across the newspaper seems a less intelligent way.

  4. Moral of the story – even dead politicians are capable of wasting public money….

    how many schools could have been built with this kind of ad budgets. How many poor could have been fed!

    Alas, our media will not focus on this kind of wastage, because in such cases the buck stops in their pockets.

    1. arvind

      Could not agree more.You hit the nail on the head.

    2. Dr. Manish

      It has happened again. Check today’s TOI August 20 2013 edition.

      Today, 20 August 2013. Occasion: Rajiv Gandhi’s birth anniversary. !6 Ads in Times of India… at the cost of taxpayer’s money. How can these politicians BJP & Congress alike do this nonsense time and again. This needs to be seriously highlighted in Media.

  5. Hi Mr/Ms Seth… why don’t you calm down? Everybody knows that the state information and broadcast resources are used to fuel propaganda by whichever party is in power. The writer is just pointing out just how much abuse is currently taking place. He obviously needs something topical to make his point, and it seems from his calculations and the references to Ramachandra Guha’s article that the abuse is so gross that it is downright sick! Who knows, maybe the BJP would’ve done the same had they been in power in 2011, with media spends (official and unofficial) growing in every industry including politics…
    Anyhow, in all this discussion it seems to me that the comment made by Objectivist Mantra is most appropriate and can engender a real discussion if you would like one… Good day.

  6. All parties do this. I am sure BJP di similar antics.

  7. sanjay

    It’s very sad to know crores of Indian money got wasted(on 69 ads over 41 pages in 12 papers) on the dead politician “Rajiv Gandhi for his anniversary. It’s shame on all indian politicians & related all indiands who directly/indirectly supported this cause to suport this date now every yr for over now 5yrs consecutively.It was sheer waste of money from all Indian-tax-payers else it could be inrelligently utilise for the welfare of poor-Indians, indians who don’t get enough one day meal, for building many school buildings etc. etc.

  8. […] Rajiv's 20th death anniversary in 2011, media blog Sans Serif wrote, "In eleven English news and business papers published out of New Delhi, there were 65 […]

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