This is a work of fiction. Although it may appear closer to reality than fiction.
With its by now well-known efficiency, the Core of the Core has gone about extracting maximum mileage out of India getting its turn to chair the G20 from December this year. A dedicated team of talented and tech-savvy officials and spin experts has been put in place; it has been simply named: MissionG20PR.
The other day the Mission G20PR received a note of appreciation from A Very, Very Competent Authority:
“A good beginning has been made. The team deserves credit for persuading so many national and regional newspapers to accept the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s write-up. I never realised that these so-called independent newspapers were so eager to trade their supposedly ‘sacred’ space – their edit and op-ed pages – for a front-page ad.
“I am particularly happy with the understated tone of this front-page ad. A simple, full-length photograph of the Hon’ble Prime Minister, purposely striding forward conveys the essence of the New India on the move.
“But this can only be just a beginning. We have to summon imagination and brazenness to stretch our G20 presidency for a whole year and even after, till the next Lok Sabha poll in 2024. Indeed, a senior editor has already suggested – apparently unprompted – that the G20 presidency would be Modiji’s ‘G24’. I never realised that these very self-important editors were so impressionable.
“We must exploit, unapologetically, the national media’s awe of the Hon’ble Prime Minister. And, of course, we should be prepared to use all our financial clout and assets to send out a message that no newspaper – even those who take pride in having established themselves more than a century ago – is beyond a bit of third-degree treatment.
“Here are a few suggestions that can be creatively fleshed out during the next twelve months:
“It can be suggested to the University Grants Commission and other bodies like the Indian Council of Social Science Research that all universities and research institutes be asked to hold seminars and events on India’s G20 presidency. By the end of the year, there should be substantive ‘scholarly’ material about India’s dynamic stewardship of this most important global platform, as per the inspiration provided by our dynamic prime minister. A log book should be maintained of all contributions and it should be made clear that non-compliance would have financial and other costs.
“Similarly, all Kendriya Vidyalas can be instructed to observe the first Monday over the next 12 months as G20 day. All kinds of activities, like elocution competitions, essay-writing, etc can be organised. The schools can invite local and state-level functionaries to impress upon young minds how large the Hon’ble Prime Minister looms on the global stage.
“Now that we have data about all clubs and civil society groups in Delhi, we should not hesitate to impress upon them firmly the need to hold seminars and webinars where Ministry of External Affairs officials must be invited. And, again, as a general rule, do not hesitate to flaunt the danda.
“It should be easy and legitimate for us to use “central” locations – like petrol pumps and airports – to put up G20 hoardings with an image and message of our dynamic and confident prime minister, leading the world out of its current confusion and turmoil.
“In big cities, the metro trains can be the site for a body wrap advertisement – Competent Prime Minister, Competent Confident India.
“I do not need to spell out in detail but I think Mission G20PR should be mindful of the electoral schedule over the next 12 months. After this week’s election in Gujarat, Karnataka is the next big battleground. At least, every month a major event should be staged in Bengaluru and other cities of the state and the Hon’ble Prime Minister, of course, would be available as the centre of attraction. And each monthly G20 event, in turn, would be the perfect excuse to have front page/jacket ads in all newspapers in Karnataka.
“I am assuming that our team would monitor closely if any of the newspapers/publications goes off the reservation: there should be no official no ads for anyone who pretends to flaunt their institutional autonomy. We should make it clear that the media’s freedom, credibility and professional standing take second place to the nation’s pride and dignity, as personified by the Hon’ble Prime Minister.
“It is vitally important that the Ministry of External Affairs should discourage any talk or discussion by foreign policy experts that the G20 presidency is simply an automatic rotation arrangement. No columnist or strategic expert should be allowed to suggest that Indonesia and Turkey have held the presidency in recent years. We are unique because our national leader is unique, beyond comparison to any living or dead leader.
“I shall urge the communication cells to reach out to the foreign media as well. A good start was made by placing Modiji’s article in some newspapers abroad. Editors of prestigious media organisations can be approached, with the usual understanding that we shall be underwriting all travel arrangements, as well as with a promise of an off-the-record meeting with the senior most ministers, perhaps even the prime minister.
“In the end, it is important to underline that our interlocutors should firmly reject any suggestion that the government is milking the G20 presidency for domestic political and electoral mileage. Our argument ought to be simple: it is a great honour for India and all Indians ought to rejoice in Modiji’s G20 presidency. The Prime Minister is not only the leader of India but has emerged unquestionably as the only authentic Vishwaguru. This has to be the overarching theme.”
Atmanirbhar is the pen-name of an aspiring satirist, who irregularly contributes a column, From the Vishwavguru Archives, and believes that ridicule and humour are central to freedom to speech and expression.