PR kiya to darna kya: How Modi buys media


The request for proposal (RFP) document of the Gujarat government that sets ‘targets’ for the PR firm that wins the contract to promote Narendra Modi’s image

In the latest issue of Open magazine, Jatin Gandhi lays his hand on a “Request for Proposal” (RFP) document of the Gujarat government that shows how “almost every day, the Indian media—and sometimes the foreign media too—is tricked or influenced by Narendra Modi‘s public relations machinery”.

Exempli gratia: “Modi’s Rambo act, saves 15,000” (The Times of India, 23 June 2013) .

The RFP besides setting targets for the PR firm that bags the contract (see image, above) also lists what is expected of a PR firm if it bags the contract to manage the Gujarat chief minister’s image.

# The hired PR firm should ‘arrange for national and international media to visit Gujarat and attend various events organized by the different departments of the Government of Gujarat’.

# ‘The number of media personnel for any event shall be decided by the Commissionerate of information after deliberation on the scale of the event.’

# “It is the Firm’s responsibility to arrange for the visits of journalists to Gujarat, any other part of the country or abroad. The expenses for the same will be reimbursed by the Commissionerate of Information on the submission of actual bills.’

The story quotes sources as saying the state government has already borne the expenses of scores of journalists, paying for their flights, travel within Gujarat and stay on assorted occasions (and multiple visits in some cases).

“Senior journalists are usually assured of luncheon meetings with Modi, with seating plans drawn up to boost their egos. The current Indian PR agency (Mutual PR) has so far arranged meetings between Modi and a range of newspaper and magazine editors.

“Starting this year, the government also has a budget allocation for taking journalists abroad on Modi’s foreign visits….

“At the Vibrant Gujarat summit earlier this year, a list of 20 journalists was drawn for a luncheon meeting with Modi. On this list was Madhu Kishwar, editor of Manushi and a fellow at the Delhi-based Centre for Study of Developing Societies, who has turned from being a critic to an advocate of Modi.

“Internal communication accessed by Open shows that the agency was wooing Kishwar, something she firmly denies.

She says that she is writing a book on Modi: “I am going to include a chapter, I think, on the myth and reality of Modi’s PR. There is no PR. I have written angry letters to the CM’s office asking for information for which I have been waiting several weeks now. They are so overburdened.”

“With Kishwar claiming she is oblivious to the machinery at work, the Gujarat government nevertheless gave her special attention because she was seen as one of the lone voices emerging from the ‘the Left liberal space’ favourable to Modi’s policies with ‘captive column space available to her in The Hindu, DNA and Manushi…’

Read the full article: The Modi mythology

Also read: ReutersModi interview: ‘sensational tokenism’

‘Network 18’s multimedia Modi feast: a promo’

For cash-struck TV, Modi is cost-effective TRP

Modi‘s backers, media owners have converged’

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27 Responses to “PR kiya to darna kya: How Modi buys media”

  1. Hindu Says:

    same is the case with congres as well. By the way how much congress has paid you to publish this post LOL :)

  2. Mahesh Says:

    What kind of stupid response is that @Hindu? Does this mean everytime someone publishes an anti-congress post, they are paid by BJP??

  3. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Just a routine RFP document needlessly sensationalized by Churumuri; a fair comparison would be the spending of 800 crores of Govt ad money to several friendly MSM?

  4. Anon Says:

    Forget Gujarat (it’s just one state & its people aren’t complaining), tell us about Central govt money being wasted in crores on BN & other promotional ads. They have been showing us ads about free iron tablets being available in anganwadis & today, we read that kids who swallowed these tablets in Delhi, are ill. When will you highlight these real issues?

  5. mysore peshva Says:

    @DB, i agree with you 100%!

  6. Goldstar Says:

    I don’t know what is wrong with Churumuri. This is just routine PR done by any state/country.

    Doesn’t the central government do the same for India? If so, it is blatantly failing in its duties.

  7. ತುಳುವ Says:

    what about ‘bharat nirman’ and the likes? Cong anyways gets publicity in return to the other favours. media protects vadras and bansals anyways

  8. Bankimchandra Desai Says:

    Media is ‘mythological may danav’ for NaMo@ Narendra Modi.May Danav built a palace at Indraprastha for Pandavs & Draupadi.The palace had a pond designed to look like a carpet. Duryodhana set his foot on the ‘carpet’ & tumbled down in a pond.Everyone present laughed ,so Draupadi remarked,’Like father,like son’. a blind man ( Dhrutrashtra) ought to have a blind son( Duryodhana).The way readers/viewers are exposed to NaMo@ Narendra Modi by national & international media by every piece of calculate positive and / or negative publicity , it is proved beyond doubt that media is a real May Danav of 2013 having its definite price.It proves beyond doubt that media is corrupt and it can be corrupted totally & thoroughly.To my guess naMo has amassed INR 5000 Crores out of which he can afford to spend INR 1000 crores to bribr /corrupt media, one & all,no one spared. He has a budget of INR 1000 Crores to get folks for his rallies & meetings. Rs 05 ticket for his Hyderabad rally is anway to convert his black money into white.Sonia Gandhi & her puppies need to keep mum & watch how NaMo creats traps, either for all other puppies or for himself.

  9. asha Says:

    Churmuri you have done it again. Rs1000 crore bharat nirman ad money can make do wonders even by sane and sensible people…Rs1000 cr of taxpayers money is frittered away on non existant accomplishments,as if it is nobody’s business but churmuri is worked up about a RFP…BTW was there a RFP for bharat nirman ads and how are the ads allocated to the media..can churmuri investigate this and publish some reports

  10. Simi Says:

    What is wrong with that? Didn’t Obama do the same?

  11. templecity Says:

    Mr Desai.See how you too have fallen prey to a pliant portal like churumuri.Didn’t you see the ‘Sonia upset’ stories that were planted by Sonia’s cohorts in the puppy channels everytime there was popular reaction against the govt policies or corruption.A ND tv reporter had to leave when he was being dictated what to say when the facts he had did not suit his employer.Sandeep bhusan’s story about the unsavory experience appeared in EPW.Read it before spewing BS.Where was Churumuri then!

  12. RShastri Says:

    Modi trolls are pissed….vibrant Gujurat is nothing but fiction….its all hype.

  13. shemej Says:

    Why very intelligent people try to argue against the obvious is an interesting question. Most of these people are shrewd and are successful in their own filed. Still they come up with self-defeating arguments.

    Let us accept the argument that “Churumuri” is doing a propaganda against the best human being + greatest leader of 21st Century- Narendra Modi Bhai.

    But what should we say about a piece of paper (photocopy) which is given as part of the news. In that, Narendra Modi (his men) is clearly instructing how to cultivate news to boost his image.

    Hence, when we spit venom against “Churumuri”, we are actually arguing that, “Churumuri should never try to publish any of such cheap publicity works done by Narendra Bhai, even if they get evidence in their hand…”

    Okay, let us accept this argument too. Now we have evidence in our hand which exposes how narrow minded and power greedy Modi is. But we should not publish it. We should instead focus on what Congress doing to get into power using malicious method. No, no media should publish any bad thing about Modi. But instead they should find out similar piece of paper which will expose Congress. Till that day, dont publish anything.

    —- I dont ask ‘what type of argument is this..’

    —- Instead, let me ask: “What impression others will get about those who argue on similar lines?”

    And a more serious question is this– if the duty of the media is to published paid news items given to them by PR agencies, how boring it will be to read the news. Already, 75% of our TVs and national newspapers are not publishing any news exposing the corporate’s role. Times of India would never give a coverage about mass protest by Trade Unions or one protesting corruption. Some of our good friends are arguing, we should keep reading same praises about our leaders, our Mukesh Ambani, Janardhana Reddy, and others which are originally written by their PR Groups and handed over to selfish journalists who accept money in return. And no other media should open their mouth against this.

    Well, I completely agree that Congress is equally immoral and vicious. But to make wild accusations against any media or individual who exposes the dirty acts of Modi is a little “strange”.

    There are other interesting issue here. In the list Modi (his men) clearly says Hindu and Frontline. Apparantly, Modi’s PR group has already published his promotional text in Hindu and Frontline. (where is Sairam, who lamented against paid news?) Madhukiswar must have published a few articles in the Hindu but what about frontline?

    And how many article already appeared in our Deccan Herald? or Vijaya Times? I am not arguing all of thesee newspapers had published articles to boost Modi. (nor I can deny it) But, it is a sad reality that some of those overs bowled by Indian bowlers are done inspired by money paid by bookies. Similarly some of the articles and news we read in our local newspapers on every day basis are prepared by these PR Groups. Either PR groups working for Manmohan singh or by Modi. Remember SM Krishna had gifted land to many journalists and he always remained in limelight. Compare this with Dharamsingh, who was in fact, a good chief minister in relative terms– considering that he led a coalition govt in Karnataka and that was ten times better than last govts run by BJP (excluding Sadananda Gowda govt which was free from much controversies). Now a days, I cant even see Dharam Singh’s name in obituary columns too. (sorry for the cruel ‘joke’). But the contrast between Dharam Singh’s popularity and SM Krishna’s popularity in media shows Paid News and Public Relation work, indeed makes some impact.

    Where is Vir Sanghvi?

  14. harkol Says:

    Have to wonder, if the Congress PR machine got to Open Magazine, and Churumuri picked it up from there? ;)

    But, seriously – there is no reason to doubt this story, as all political parties will want to get good PR, and I am sure they have a PR machines (both internal & external). Who can forget the large campaigns like “Mera Bharat Mahan”, “India Shining” and now “Bharat Nirman”? These are done through PR & Advt. firms.

    And Govt. departments of ‘information & broadcasting’ is a euphemism for Party PR machine.

    However, this article pointing to earlier article on TOI is entirely wrong. TOI itself has apologized saying it was ‘mortified’ by its error and furore it caused. It has made it clear no BJP person gave it inputs, and it interpreted available information wrongly.

    Also, I doubt if a person of Madhukishwar’s (and now Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s) credibility would sell a reputation earned from life-long work, for the sake of some crumbs. But, then If Bharkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi were compromised and exhibited ‘error of judgement’ (as they called it), then others may too! Who knows?

    Bottom line – Politicians (and businessmen) do PR all over the world. And they pay for it (from their coffers and from public/company coffers). Citizen/Shareholders can question the excessive spend from public/company coffer, but some PR is essential.

    Doing PR is not wrong. Let us grow up!!

  15. Yella Ok Says:

    The two articles next to each other on sans serif blog – one on Gujarat/Modi, the other on Gandhi family/Priyanka make for a nice comparison. One covers PR firms “buying media”, the other covers “how diplomacy in teacups change a person”. One is posted under “Issues and Ideas”, the other under “a bit of fun”. It is time for us to go figure what all of this means.

  16. Yella Ok Says:

    What does all the spending on Bharat NirNaaM ads amount to? Oops, sorry, the Bharat NirMaaN ads ……..

  17. Shetty Says:

    Taking about PR in Indian Politics, we all know that Modi tweets, is active online, does f2f personal interviews including with global agencies like reuters, gives weekly speeches, does teleconferences, google hangouts…etc

    Tell me, when did you last see an interview in the media with either the Madam or the clueless Pappu or the ‘great economist’ Sardar?

    Is the Cong-I and UPA only capable of a Rs. 1000 crore ‘Bharat Nirman’ or another Rs. 2000 crore ‘Parivarthan’ ad money handout (from the Govt treasury that actually belongs to you and me!) to the NDTV, CNN-IBN, HT, TOI’s, Hindu, Telheka’s of India?

  18. narayana, narayana! Says:

    Jatin, in a ll fairness, you must also compare what Congress and other parties do to get this publicity, and then decide whether it is better to be transparent about this process or do it covertly. Please tell us what is the cost to the nation of ads released by Congress in the name of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and the ‘achievements’ of this non-performing government.

  19. Progressive Says:

    Why don’t you blog about how congress buying media like CNN-IBN, NDTV? All foreign funded media and media people doesn’t want India’s progress. And your blog also contributing the same. Appreciate Modiji’s work at Gujarat than blog something with prejudice mind set. God bless media people!!

  20. dr ramesh Says:

    articles like this one are a reality check for BJP-CORPORATE-RSS AXIS supporters.

  21. Vijay Says:

    After TOI apologized and issued a clarification, will churmuri care to do the same. What was a shoddy piece of journalism, was hyped up by the media and channels which wait for any occation to abusse Modi. Will any clarification be forthcoming from churmuri??

  22. Gokulam 3rd Stage Says:

    I wonder why the political parties think it is possible to plant stories in big media outlets…..and not a peep out of these so called journalists on how that RFP damns them as much as it does the issuer. How bad would the media outlets have to be compromised for such advertisements to be made possible?

  23. Benglure Boy Says:

    It is manufactured madness for Modi by the looks of it. All his development has been eyewash and many other states are way ahead in terms of growth, FDI and HDI. This is being done by invisible hands using Modi to come to power. Modi is a good CM but not as good or #1 as it is being made out to be by his followers. His MP counterpart is doing much better. So give him the credit he deserves, don’t overhype as it is going to be counterproductive and all this hot air about him is turning out to be very repulsive. For anyone who might think, I am a congress fan, I am NOT. I am just giving my 2 paisa here.

  24. Benglure Boy Says:

    Shemej, completely agree with your views. @Gokulam, totally agree, media can be used to make saint out of a murderer, and saint a murderer.

  25. Shemej Says:

    Someone said, “people everywhere do not think using their brain, but using their heart. And they see what they want to see and NOT what is there in front of their eyes.”

    To avoid people mixing their emotions and colored vision, let me not discuss about Narendra Modi.Let me just talk about general principles, not related to India. What I am narrating here is just an imaginary situation.Characters, stories – all.

    a) Let us assume that after founding World’s third largest software company, NARA Murthy refuses to become CEO saying let us give chance to another director and he can wait.He waited one decade and worked dedicatedly for company he founded. But let us imagine that after nearly one decade a Sihublal whom he took into company play group politics to become CEO and send a group of his men to demonstrate in front of NARA Murthy’s house to terrorize him. Do you think you will feel more respect for NARA Murthy or Sihublal of our story? (again story is not real)

    b) Let us assume that one Mr Basu or Bose brought communists to power. One day this communist leader met a person who was originally running a tea shop and later as a supplier in a canteen was given Communist party membership, in the year 1987-and let us give him the name — Naren Bhatacharjee. Imagine this Bhattacharjee plays group politics and throws out two of its top leaders one Keshavubhai and another Vakhila from Chief minister post to grab chair.Will he continue to get respect among communist cadres and followers?

    c) One of his colleague Topadia who actually helped to finalize strategy in business or politics, was later backstabbed by him. Later a CD started circulating against another colleague Sulain Joshi. If Sulain Joshi’s intimate moments can be shot in camera, arguably that can be shot only people who are insiders. Consider, Nityananda’s sex CD was allegedly shot by his ex-girlfriend who can enter inside the same bedroom. Hence some one who can enter either Sulain Joshi’s or his woman’s bedroom must have a hand in shooting those sex CDs. Am I wrong? A full time political or business pracharak’s private life is always with other full time pracharaks. So we are talking about the mindset of the person who shoots this sex video and use it for personal gain. This Topadia and Sulain Joshi are imaginary characters based in Nicaragua and not in Madhyapradesh.–clarification.

    d) One person I know was told by a horoscope expert that he will become a minister some day. He started believing the words of horoscope expert, he immediately cancelled a marriage, for which mutual assurance was given. In this last real story, my mother actually introduced guy to girl’s family, for that mistake, she had to listen a lot of criticism and blaming. Imagine a business head abandoning his own wife (without divorcing her) with the calculation, she is not having enough glamour and may not suite his modern businessman image.

    If we all may form some opinion about the mindset of the characters sketches above, varying from appreciatioin to totally negative opinion, I agree that would be based on our own perception about what good qualities and bad qualities a man should possess.

    Imagine this business man (or pollitical personality, or economist who ever it is) is extremely famous in his field. Can we allow our judgment to be influenced by his fame?

    Even if we form an opinion about an individual, that should be based on our own inner judgement and not based on what the PR grous, corporate or corporate media propogate. Just my opinion.

  26. harkol Says:

    Shemez: Let me play your game.

    A. I respect NR Murthy. But, I am one of those who believe NR Murthy shouldn’t have returned to Infy. Not because he doesn’t deserve it. But, because If it can’t walk well on its own even after 30yrs of nurture, it won’t walk by another 10yrs of same nurture.

    The fact that he had his innings and is pushing 70 is another factor that goes against him. If a younger lot is floundering let them – they need to learn or collapse on their own. We can’t hang on to old men.

    Terrorize? Really? A bunch demonstrating in front of a house is ‘terrorizing’? And you seem fairly sure Shibulal sent them!! Wah!

    B. Politics (noun): ‘Social relations involving intrigue to gain authority or power’

    So, yes. If a person in politics normally has ambition and if he beats other competitors fair & square through his personal popularity, that’s what it is all about.

    The alternative model would be, to take your example, Naren Bhattacharjee should be life long slave of Basu or Bose. Works in some parties, where everyone is a life-long slave of one dynasty/person. But, in ‘communist party’ (of your eg.) Loyalty is not slavery.

    C. You speak of mindset of the person who shoots this sex video and use it for personal gain! That person must be really sick and must have some skills in hiding and shooting videos.

    Is this person anyone you know well closely? You seem to know too many details about him & his activities?!!

    D. Imagine a business head abandoning his own wife – yeah, it would be cruel if it happened the way you explained.

    But, if the marriage was a child-marriage, then the marriage itself is void and has no moral/ethical standing. The person who walked away from such marriage can’t be blamed. Thus, marriage and the personal life of each is immaterial to others, unless there is criminality and immorality involved.

    And your thoughts on PR is a bit childish. PR happens all the time. It happens when ‘Mera Bharat Mahan’ is aired. It happened when Mahatma Gandhi took a fistful of sand in his hand.

    The purpose of PR is to influence opinions. Articles in this blog, comments (your/mine) are all intended to air messages with the intent to influence thought of others.

    Principles of Marketing/communication works all the time. If it didn’t we won’t have an enduring aristocratic family in this nation. They survive purely because of ‘brand recall’.

  27. kumar Says:

    Agree with Harkol in the sense that PR is always working everywhere you turn. You may not know !

    If facts are not twisted, not grossly misrepresented, then there is nothing to complain about. Media already does much !

    Kishwar’s reasons for turning around — let Kishwar speak on that.

    If Mutual PR leaked to Open something they shouldn’t have, it will surely hurt their business with their client. Usually PR agencies do not have such things to hide. Everything is Public in PR. So what is the big deal about this story anyway ?

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