PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: There are 58 government advertisements amounting to 26¼ pages in 12 English newspapers today to mark the birth anniversary of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. In contrast, there were 108 ads amounting to 48 pages to mark his grandson, Rajiv Gandhi‘s birthday in August.
All told, so far this year, between three death anniversaries (Nehru’s, Rajiv’s, Indira Gandhi‘s) and two birth anniversaries (Rajiv’s and Indira’s), various ministries of the Union government and Congress-ruled State governments have spent taxpayers’ money in buying 323 advertisements amounting to 158¼ published pages in the 12 surveyed newspapers.
The breakup of the Jawaharlal Nehru ads are as under:
Hindustan Times: 24-page main issue; 11 Nehru ads amounting to 4½ broadsheet pages
The Times of India: 30-page issue; 9 ads amounting to 3¾ broadsheet pages
Indian Express: 24-page issue; 9 ads amounting to 4¼ broadsheet pages
Mail Today (compact): 36-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 2¼ compact pages
The Hindu: 24-page issue; 7 ads amounting to 2¾ broadsheet pages
The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 5 ads amounting to 2¼ broadsheet pages
The Statesman: 16-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ broadsheet pages
The Telegraph: 22-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1 broadsheet page
The Economic Times: 30-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ broadsheet pages
Business Standard: 16-page issue; 2 ads amounting to 1 page
Financial Express: 22-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ page
Mint (Berliner): 24-page issue; 0 ads
This computation is only for 12 English newspapers; many other English papers have been left, as indeed has the entire language media which are more numerous than the English ones, several times over.
Among the advertisers wishing the dear departed leader happy birthday this year are the ministries of information and broadcasting, commerce and industry, steel, women and child development, health and family welfare, human resource development, micro small and medium enterprises, youth affairs and sports.
The state governments advertising their love are those of Rajasthan and Delhi. Besides, there are ads of Nehru Yuva Kendra and the national book trust.0
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.”