No-n-Sense! Karnataka Government Spending on Full Page Ads, While People are Dying due to lack of O2, ICU Beds, Vaccines, medicines etc during pandemic/lockdown
Mangaluru: We are facing death every day and our Karnataka government under the leadership of CM BS Yediyurappa is spending crores of rupees for placing full front-page ads on a bunch of English and Kannada newspapers about the Financial Relief of Rs 1250 crore to the farmers, Labourers, Auto-Taxi drivers and other communities affected by Covid-19 second wave. This follows close on its heels after the Karnataka government had released a bunch of full front-page advertisements on 22 April 2021 in various newspapers praising PM’s achievements and developments that have taken place in the state, while people are suffering and dying during this pandemic/lockdown, due to lack of vaccines, oxygen, ICU beds, medicines etc.
They are not spending money for such ads from their pockets, but the hard-earned taxpayers’ money. Shame on these netas who have money to spend on unwanted ads but don’t have money to buy vaccines, oxygen, ICU beds, medicines for the people who are desperately struggling during this pandemic/lockdown. Recently, on 22 April most major newspapers in Karnataka, both in Kannada and English, had full-page advertisements given by the Karnataka Government. The full-page ad that was featured in several newspapers in Delhi too has a large photo of PM Modi and a smiling picture of Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa thanking him purportedly on behalf of Bengalureans. In the ad, the state government thanked the Prime Minister “for the landmark decision of granting approval to Phase-2A & 2B of Namma Metro providing Metro connectivity to Kempegowda International Airport”.
Meanwhile, people were fumed of this spending on advertisements when the entire state is battling the deadly second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and there is no money to honour the Covid warriors. While there is no money for development work and amid Covid deaths, the government is spending a huge amount on ‘propaganda’. Criticizing this move, even former CM HD Kumaraswamy had said, “I noticed something today (22 April) when I read the newspapers that caused me a lot of pain. Today, the state government has expressed gratitude to the Union Government for granting funds for metro phase 1 and 2. These are not alms given to the state by the Union Government,”.
Now once again, CM Yediyurappa and his government has released a front-page advertisement on Thursday, 20 May 2021 about the Financial Relief of more than Rs 1250 Crore, to boast about the government’s timely response to the problems caused by Covid-19 Second Wave. Even though that was a kind gesture of the CM and his government to release such a relief package during the present crisis, however, why spend lakhs of money on advertisements when that money could have been used to buy Oxygen Cylinders, ICU beds, Vaccines etc, when the state is facing acute shortage of them.
As Karnataka is battling the second wave of the pandemic, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Wednesday announced over Rs 1,250 crore relief package for those whose livelihood has been affected by COVID-19 induced lockdown. He said that an amount of Rs 3,000 each will be given for auto and taxi drivers and construction workers; Rs 2,000 each for workers in the unorganised sector and Rs 10,000 per hectare for farmers engaged in floriculture works. Overall, about 2.10 lakh auto, registered taxi and maxi cab drivers will benefit from the move. Karnataka is one of the worst affected states due to Covid-19.
As part of the relief package, an amount of Rs 3,000 each will be given to auto and taxi drivers and construction workers; Rs 2,000 to workers in the unorganised sector and Rs 10,000 per hectare to farmers engaged in floriculture works. Around 69,000 farmers may benefit from the decision and will cost the government Rs 69 crore. Overall, about 2.10 lakh auto, registered taxi and maxi cab drivers will benefit from the move. The scheme announced for labourers, under which Rs 3,000 each will be given to labourers who have registered with Karnataka Building And Other Construction Workers Welfare Board will cost the exchequer Rs 494 crore.
File Photo: This advertisement was released in Newspapers on 22 April 2021
Unorganised sector workers like barbers, washermen, tailor, porters, rag pickers, potters, goldsmiths, mechanics, blacksmith, household workers, cobblers, among others, will get Rs 3,000 each, thereby benefiting 3.04 lakh of them. The scheme will cost Rs 60.89 crore. Roadside vendors registered under the Aatma Nirbhar package will get Rs 2,000 each, benefiting about 2.20 lakh people. The scheme will cost Rs 44 crore. Also, artists and art teams will be given Rs 3,000 each, benefiting 16,095 beneficiaries and will cost Rs 4.82 crore, he further added, while listing out several other announcements. He said Karnataka is facing a financial crunch but considering the hardships faced by people, it’s necessary to lend a helping hand. “We have done the best we can within the current financial limitations, and will consider if any further needs to be done in the future,” he had said.
Okay, if CM admits that Karnataka is facing a financial crunch but considering the hardships faced by people, it’s necessary to lend a helping hand by giving financial packages to various sectors during the COVID first wave, then why is the CM and his government wasting money on advertisements. Bah humbug! During the time when people are facing death every day and the state is spending crores of rupees for placing the ads. The government is toying with the people of the state. What was the need for such ads at a time like this? There is a shortage of beds, oxygen and medicine in the state. In this situation, what message is the CM or his cabinet members conveying to the people of the state with front-page ads? The government should understand that even now if they do not work towards saving lives, people will get infuriated.
Other members of the opposition party too have questioned the wisdom behind placing such ads.“Where did this money come from? Hospitals are running out of oxygen, people are dying due to lack of medicine, crematoriums are running out of space. But Vishwa guru has time & money for ads,” was a tweet. People are at the house of death now. But the government is spending crores on these full-page ads. Is it so important to issue this ad or other advertisements?
But even today, when the country is under turmoil and in crisis during this pandemic, our Netas don’t think twice before they spend money on advertisements for publicity stunts on the expenses of taxpayers. There is a catch here, why the PM, CM or politicians like to spend money on ads. Government advertising accounts for a sizable chunk of revenue for Big Media. In the time of an economic downturn, media companies come to rely even more heavily on ad spending by governments in states and at the Centre. These ads, however, come with strings attached. Governments tend to distribute ads in lieu of favourable coverage or use it as a stick to beat journalists into compliance. Moreover, given that governments spend public money on advertising, it is all the more crucial to examine how these governments spend.
In conclusion, the government’s ad expenditure has grown vastly in the last decade and a half. The sums involved are huge. Is such profligacy justified? Especially considering that government advertising often ends up being self-congratulatory, vanity campaigns rather than genuine efforts to educate people about public schemes.