Political dirty linen is beginning to be washed in public. And hung out to dry. Yet again.

The governments of the BJP-ruled states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat have been caught with the smoking gun. They have no place to run, neither to hide. Sedition is the unspoken thought in many impressionable minds.

Only the state governments of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Uttarakhand (UK) have come out smelling roses, their patriotism and good intentions beyond reproach. Only the state governments of UP and UK have bothered to publish half-page advertisements extolling the central government and its efforts in rolling out the world’s largest free vaccination campaign. With a photograph of the Prime Minister (PM), apart from their own Chief Minister (CM).

One is published on the page facing the one where the central government has placed a half-page advertisement extolling its own efforts in rolling out the world’s largest free vaccination campaign. The other is published on the page just behind the central government advertisement. And I am referring to The Hindustan Times here, the daily newspaper I read. I cannot say which other daily they are not published in.

Finish reading the central government ad, spend a moment in contemplation of your blessings, after you have already read the UP government ad and spent a moment in contemplation of your blessings, turn the page and the UK government ad catches you smack in the face, forcing you to spend yet another moment in contemplation of your blessings.

Did I even turn the page? Am I seeing double? Or triple? The insecurities of advancing age also come rushing back as the same ad stares back page after page.

But I guess I am missing the point, as usual. After all, unless three government advertisements say the same thing in the same edition of the same newspaper on the same day, how is the common man to understand?

To make sure the common man understands, since they understand the common man so well, they have taken the trouble to ensure that not a shred of additional information is shared in either of their advertisements. The copy is exactly the same as in the central government ad. Except for the “Thank you PM Modi!” extra line over and above the exact copy of the central government ad that both the state government ads have.

Check it out for yourself.

Can the non-Indian readers identify the central government ad out of the three?

This is clear evidence of both the state governments, even the central government for that matter, having independently conceived the idea and worked on the creatives. One cannot even begin to imagine the senior leadership time that would have been spent in fine-tuning the language of these ads. Publicis, Dentsu, WPP, Omnicom, Ogilvy and Euro RSCG, your loss of creative advertising talent has been the Indian common man’s gain of political talent.

Coming as it does on the day the central government has told the Supreme Court that they cannot make ex-gratia payouts for Covid deaths, as provided in the Disaster Management Act of 2005, as it is ‘beyond fiscal affordability’ of the government, it has particular relevance for the common man.

Fiscal affordability?

The centre, as well as the UP and UK state governments, have risen above the challenge of fiscal affordability and issued these ads.

Are the other states trying to convey an impression that they understand what it actually means? There will be hell to pay. Central governments have rarely been bothered with such trifles.

Besides, not taking up opportunities for publishing advertisements with a picture of the PM, preferably preening with a peacock…sorry, with a preening peacock, when the opportunity presents itself, could well be made an act of treason soon. These state governments are not trying to become test cases, are they?

I heard from a cousin that his children have questioned his claims about graduating from a prestigious college in Delhi University. “But where is the PM’s picture?” they asked him when he proudly showed them his graduation certificate. The children, adults now, had just received their Covid-19 vaccination certificate with the PM’s mug. Never mind that in the early eighties when he graduated the PM was not the PM, not even the CM of Gujarat. He was probably not even an elected representative of a municipal corporation at that time. Poor chap has returned his degree certificate and requested the University to issue a fresh one with the picture of the PM.

I believe from the next renewal, all driving licences issued in India will have the picture of Mr. Modi, instead of the driver.

And silly me. I never realized that PM Modi is funding this vaccination drive out of his personal fortune. I am sure if that was not the case the ads would have said “Thank you, central government!” or “Thank you, government of India!” Simple man that he is, he has never made a hue and cry about his fortune. Messrs Ambani and Adani have much to learn from him.

But I must admit that I was caught off guard by the declaration of this being the world’s largest free vaccination programme.

If you have the world’s largest population, or thereabouts, how can you have the world’s largest free vaccination drive as well? Isn’t something amiss here? Should you not be having the world’s smallest free vaccination drive while the world’s largest free vaccination drive is carried out in Singapore, or Luxembourg, or Vatican City? Especially when the government that is implementing it has been elected by the largest voter list in the world.

It’s a bit like proudly claiming in a public-money funded ad and thanking the PM for India having the world’s largest number of children. Or the largest number of adults. Or the world’s largest number of employed people. Or the world’s largest number of unemployed people. Or the world’s largest number of construction workers. Or the world’s largest number of non-construction workers. Or the largest number of children in school. Or the largest number of children not in school. Or the largest number of, well, anything.

Wouldn’t you be surprised?

18 thoughts on “Adwords

  1. Nothing unusual; convoluted politics is the new normal. (Or maybe it’s still the old normal.) Now if the PM’s photo is on all driving licences, traffic stops will be very confusing (Cue Benny Hill theme song). 😀

  2. Tooting their own horn seems to be something all governments on earth have in common especially before elections.
    I looked up The Hindustan Times and read that a tiny Hawaiian squid has been shot into space to be examined in the international space station. I heard nothing about it on CBC.

    • Would propagation of self not be the driving force behind each politician as well, like it is for the rest of us? Many of us have a tendency to get lulled into thinking they are in it for our good. Maybe it is escapism. We don’t want to take the trouble to think and act and like to believe someone out there is taking care of us.
      After reading your comment, I searched yesterday’s and today’s (22nd June) printed versions and could find no mention of the squid. But I looked online, and there it was. Strange.

  3. Covid-19 is like Alum. You sprinkle it in murky water and the useless politicians settle out. Hopefully we will be left with a certain clarity. No we won’t; how naive of me.

  4. Evidently, not all the people of India believe in the effectiveness of the vaccine. When governments spend that kind of advertising to move people into their direction it is because there is a problem, i.e. with government. Great post, wear a bullet proof vest everywhere you go.

    • You’ve made a fairly accurate assessment re. the belief in the vaccine. It is only after the mayhem caused by the ‘second wave’ in April/ May that vaccination numbers have moved up.
      Thanks for the advice too. My local friends say I am safe till my blog is not very popular. Hoping it stays that way 🙂

  5. I and millions of others have received form letters from Trump and now Biden advising me of the wonderful stimulus checks and other alleged benefits available due to COVID 19 repercussions relief. In the case of Biden and the democrats 90% of the trillions going out have nothing to do with the effects of COVID 19 on the individual’s pocketbook and economy in general but for petty projects and other social projects to addict the public with their generosity while needed matters go unfunded.

  6. So many people in USA resist getting the vaccinations and wearing masks. They argue it violates their freedom and represents Big Brother government. I try to tell them “It’s not about freedom. It’s about germs.”

    • I am on the fence on this one. Germs, or microorganisms are a part of our lives; we have zillions inside us playing a role in our health. For me, the efficacy of the vaccine is a bit of a mystery. What does 81% efficacy mean when we seem to have a 95% natural resistance; most people who get infected show no symptoms and tide over it without any knowledge of it. Besides, vaccines have been rolled out after the pharma companies have been given protection by governments against claims arising from the vaccination not being effective. Sounds like a political vaccine, not a medical one. Besides, even after vaccination, you can get the infection and spread it. I support masks, however, when in a public place, as it is non-invasive and should not have any lasting side-effect.

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