Message from Home

The home ministry finally has a spokesman. But there’s a long way to go

In an op-ed in the Indian Express in October 2009, Sushant K Singh and I had called for the government to “release accurate and factual information to the public with unprecedented timeliness. In this age of inexpensive technology and connectivity, there is no excuse for the home ministry to be unable to release reports, photographs and video footage from the field. Paying for advertisements in the national media will only take it so far—unless the UPA government implements a sophisticated public communication strategy, it will find its political will sapped by the Naxalite propaganda machine.”

Out of the seas the home secretary churned comes a spot of nectar. It took the controversy created by G K Pillai’s comments about the ISI’s role in the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai for the Indian government to act on this. The home ministry has appointed a spokesman who will “interact with journalists at a specified time daily.” That’s a good move—but it must be backed by the spokesman being supported by staff competent in public communications and new media. While the spokesman can meet journalists on a daily basis, his department must work round the clock putting out authoritative official versions of facts out there.

The external affairs ministry’s public diplomacy division recently got onto Twitter. Home should follow.

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