A mind boggling 21,000 MOUs appear to have been signed at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit this year. Considering that this was a three day event and assuming it covered 12 hours a day and assuming people were signing MOUs left, right and center from the word go, it computes to a mind boggling 9.7 MOUs per minute or about one MOU signed per 6 seconds - every minute of the event.
Unless this is a "Narendra Modi rescues 15,000 Gujaratis from Uttarakhand floods" type news, it probably took a whole team of people to even record any MOUs happening accurately, let alone facilitating. Gujarat Government should disclose details of how they enabled such a miracle in the interest of enabling business knowledge in India.
I am a complete dud, so if any reader wants to explain even the basics to me in the comments, I'd be much grateful. Questions particularly plaguing my curiosity are:
What is an MOU and what goes into signing one?
Which are the parties that have to sign/witness it?
How are signed MOUs recorded?
How much time was actually provided for this signing?
What sort of staff arrangements had to be made to even make something like this possible?
Modi came to power unelected. Soon after his becoming Chief Minister of Gujarat, the Gujarat Riots happened. Shamelessly defending the massacres as a righteous "reaction" Modi successfully polarized the majority against the minority to win in 2002.
For the younger readers, who don't remember the Vinash Purush speeches that preceeded the Vikas Purush speeches, here are some excerpts (Apologies for poorly edited video. Will try to replace with better version when I figure out the video editor):
While these speeches can get him elected by a majority just recovering from unrest and not wanting threats, this is not possible to recreate for every election.
Enter APCO - in 2006 - supposedly to promote a vibrant Gujarat (remember India shining in 2004?) but very conveniently in time for the 2007 elections.
The task was to show that Gujarat under Modi had become an ideal state that people worldwide would want to invest in and visit. APCO's advisory council is illustrious.
Of course, this was happening on the state budget. Or as elite economists like to call it, on the Gujarati tax payer's money.
We saw the "Vibrant Gujarat" campaign emerge even more strongly in 2010 and 2011 in time for Gujarat Assembly Elections 2012. Also an election Modi won.
And now here is the strange part. Gujarat Government spent massive amounts of money in 2013 to polish up Gujarat image. Incidentally, the Gujarat image was a key part of Modi's election campaign for the Lok Sabha Elections. Additionally, moving from APCO to Indian PR firms probably allowed money to deliver more as well, now that the formula was established.
One wonders why the Gujarat Government needs PR firms based in Delhi in the run up to the Lok Sabha Elections. Also, the PR firms were not just expected to promote Gujarat, but to ensure positive coverage in News media - and this is in official government documents requesting tenders.
Put together, this is a request for tenders for paid news Nationwide - not even in Gujarat. Now why in the world would Gujarat government want to acquaint people Nationwide of what is happening in Gujarat in the year before National Elections? Particularly when the Chief Minister was to use Gujarat as an advertisement of himself in his National Campaign more than BJP achievements? All pretending to be on some other budget of course - sometimes Gujarat Government, sometimes hiding behind the party being allowed unlimited expenses. Narendra Modi's speeches have constantly referred to the information spread about Gujarat by these paid campaigns as resounding praise for Gujarat (in other words, his leadership) and built his campaign around it. So not only is it use of government funds to undermine the media and fool people into thinking Gujarat gets spoken well more than other states, but also to aid personal and party campaign in National elections.
But wait. It gets better. Here's one from 2012 asking for Facebook 3,00,000 Facebook likes (from 8,000) for the IEC page (which sings virtues of Gujarat under Modi). Remember Modi's popularity boom on the internet? And yes, it wants likes in very specific ways - from Gujarat, target cities of India, target countries worldwide, etc. Page 20 onwards. You're welcome.
These requests for proposals are just a few from the first page of search results.
Quite clearly, there is a boom in advertisement of Gujarat in the build up to National Elections, ON GUJARAT GOVERNMENT FUNDS. The promotion is well beyond the state of Gujarat and the purpose it serves is unclear.
Of course the Gujarat Government has a right to market itself as an investment destination, but the use of this material in Modi's campaigns needs to be reviewed as well, considering the timing and the abundant use of exactly these kinds of services in his campaign.
There are other examples of paid news including the excellent reporting in Caravan Magazine about the right wing influence in Network 18 and a brazen instance of paid news - which ought to be verified by the Election Commission. Surely an individual's budget cannot afford Prime Time TV and still be within limits?
Last year, Vivian Fernandes, who co-wrote Bahl’s book, was dispatched to Gujarat to interview the chief minister, Narendra Modi. A person involved with the production of the interview recalled that Fernandes asked Modi a difficult question about water conservation in Gujarat. Modi’s organisers had asked to see the questions before the interview, and demanded the water conservation question’s removal. When Fernandes sprung it on him anyway, Modi broke away from the camera and glared at a public relations executive in the room. “Why is he talking like this?” the person recalled Modi saying. “Are we not paying for this interview?” The production crew realised that the interview was part of a promotion for Modi. When Bahl heard about the curtailed interview, he reportedly told Fernandes, “We should have a clear line between marketing and editorial.” - See more at: http://www.caravanmagazine.in/reportage/network-effect?page=0,1
It should not be so difficult to verify whether any such interview marked as marketing appeared on TV. And, if the ones that did appear on TV after Modi filed his nomination appear in Modi's accounts. Surely one on one interviews of Prime Ministerial candidate cannot be put on a BJP budget?
CMS Media Labs analysis also shows that Modi got 33.21% of Prime Time coverage on five channels (Aaj Tak, ABP News, Zee News, NDTV 24x7 and CNN IBN) monitored (not including India TV or Times Now - where Modi interviews appeared). Modi received nearly 7.5 times more coverage than Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi during prime time. Kejriwal got about 10.31% of total coverage (much of it criticism), Gandhi got only about 4.33%. In party-wise coverage, BJP had nearly 38% or about 1,507 minutes, while about 1,101 minutes or 27.75% of television news coverage went to Congress.
Additionally, several exposes that showed BJP in bad light - putting up false candidates, seats, votes and more got silenced by media.
Paid news nailed Ashok Chavan. Should Modi be an exception? Election Commission should examine details of the work furnished through hires of such PR firms on Gujarat Government funds and verify that they have not been used for National campaigning by official party and leaders accounts and that Narendra Modi's campaigns do indeed fit the 70 lakh he is legally allowed after all the loopholes or expenses have run out. Manufactured popularity must not subvert the principles of free and fair elections.
The BJP funding seems to be an economic miracle. Perhaps it follows the Gujarat model.
Hindustan Times reports that the BJP advertising budget for this election could touch 5000 crores.
“Planned spends on all media, including print, television, outdoor, internet and radio would be close to Rs. 4,500 crore. The party has set aside an additional Rs. 500 crore, which will be used, based on need, to beef up the campaign in critical constituencies and states in the last few days of campaigning.”
After his Record of 53 rallies using 3D projection technology beamed real time using satellites during his Assembly election campaign; the Lok Sabha Elections are set to see Modi break his own record with 1000 such 3D projection rallies planned in 10-12 batches with each event happening in 100 locations at a time. Depending on which source you read cost between 5 crore per event to ten million dollars (little over 60 crores) for all the rallies (coming to a little more than 1.13 crore per rally). That would be a mind boggling 5000 crore on just one category of election campaigning by a party that declared TOTAL INCOME between 2004-05 and 2011-12 accounts as 890.65 crore rupees and assets worth 1221.57 crore rupees. While there is no way of knowing how much donations they are getting now, I'm going by the assumption that two general elections falling into that time period, the total income of 7 years wouldn't exceed the income in this one year.
Assuming lower cost to be true, it would be 1.13 crore per event bringing it to a whopping 1132 crore still.
This is apart from the 185 rallies Modi is to address in person, traveling by air each time. Independent estimates peg the cost of each Modi rally at 50 to 55 crores per event including event arrangements, travel by air, hoardings and other advertisements, live broadcast feed, paid audiences and more. We can dismiss them as motivated and consider a tenth of that cost (5 crore) to be true, and the rest politically motivated considering that estimating the extent of paid audiences is impossible. I regret that we have to use such wild estimations, but since BJP is a staunch opponent of RTI providing accurate information about their party expenses, this is the best I can do for now. I have tried to be fair. Even a low budget wedding decorator would charge 150 rupees per head or more per guest for the event arrangements (not counting food and such). That would put the cost of 185 rallies alone at 925 crore (35 crore more than the total declared income for 7 years between 2004-05 and 2011-12). That is leaving out rallies such as the Hunkar where even conservative estimates peg it to cost over 10 crore.
This is in addition to prime time television advertisements, full page ads in newspapers and such, which someone tracking (but not yet ready with his report) estimates to be in the hundreds of crores already.
This is in addition to the ads staring into your face all over the internet.
This is in addition to the hired PR firms for social media trolling and more.
This is apart from the regular running expenses of hundreds of offices, lakhs of supporters campaiging on the ground and on the internet and phones.
It is apart from the printing and distribution expenses for both party propaganda and slander of opponents.
This is apart from the reports of payment for votes, payment for attending rallies, payment for buying off party supporters/members/candidates, media, etc - stuff not easy to prove or estimate, but estabished that it happens.
This is in addition to the expenses of other leaders who are also not exactly pinching their wallet. There are hundreds of candidates with their own expenses likely spending funds from state units or other sources. For example Gopinath Munde's supporters recently thrashed their helicopter pilot in Beed when he wouldn't take him to an additional location than what he had been booked for, citing Election Commission restrictions.
And there are a thousand other things, but I think it is quite clear that BJP's visible expense dramatically exceeds their stated income. I can easily outline estimates for other expenses if anyone has any evidence that BJP legally has more money than I am assuming here.
So where is this money coming from? Clearly part of it is coming in kind, like the free air travel and the now done to death names of the evil Ambani and Adani.
That still doesn't explain the rest of the bonanza. The advertising, rallies and the 3D rallies both independently blow the declared income estimate out of the water.
But BJP supporters would rather believe that a state that has tripled its debt under Modi needs to spend more money making Gujarat smell sweet. So we have:
The chosen agency will have to ensure at least half a dozen stories each in national, regional and vernacular newspapers based on the inputs provided by Gujarat government, officials said. Gujarat government is also seeking at least one story each in national magazines and television based on its inputs every month.
The amount for retaining Mutual PR is not known. Last week, four agencies including Dilip Cherian's Perfect Relations, Acti Media, Kamnath Mudralaya and Mutual PR attended half an hour long pre-bid conference called by the government of Gujarat in Delhi.
More firms are expected to submit bids as the Gujarat government reduced a threshold to 1 crore each in turnover for past three years from 1.5 crore in 2011 for bidders while most tenders seek much higher revenues.
Many of the state ventures of Gujarat have also hired separate public relations firms. For instance, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City has roped in Adfactors PR; Metro Express Gandhinagar-Ahmedabad project has signed Perfect Relations and Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation has tied up with Simulations.
And this publicity wasn't even listed in the ones already unable to fit BJP's stated income.
Paisa kidhar se aa raha hain, bhai?
Note: There is a big bait in this article. If BJP takes it, there will be a follow up article. Stay tuned.
Ravinder Singh of Sabka Bharat Party's observations with regard to Arvind Kejriwal's visit in Gujarat make very serious allegations about the state of affairs in Gujarat.
As always, I am happy to publicize any rebuttals made as well.
It was thrilling to see a Great Tsunami is generating in Gujarat that shall engulf Political Dinosaurs in Modi and BJP are Cut Down to 50 Seats. There could be more CLASHES & RIOTS to divert Public Attention, Cloud Media and Polarize Voters.
Though Ambani controlled media Blacked Out Arvind Kejriwal Yatra and less resourceful Local TV Channels could broadcast events only at the end of the day but Kejriwal had already ‘Rocked Modi’ who is Desperately looking for SAFE SEAT.
Kejriwal reported Highest Level Corruption imaginable, Adani and Ambani Run the Government
Tax Revenue in Gujarat is barely 11% (Rs.75,000 crores for Rs.6,75,000 Crore GDP) against tax rate of over 63% is worst in the world.
NATIONAL TRAGEDY 1: Narmada Canal Project is Total Corruption, CAG reported 6% command area served even less by Narmada Control Authority when more area is submerged in Dams and acquired for Canals. Saurashtra, Kutchh and North Gujarat is practically not getting any Narmada Canal Water Supply. 70% of Gujarat water is contributed by TAPI & Narmada Rivers but not reaching three regions. (Attachment: Sardar Sarovar dam report)
NATIONAL TRAGEDY 2: RIL & GSPC acquired over 80 Oil & Gas Blocks reported WORLD RECORD DISCOVERIES ARE ACTUALLY WORING IN ONGC BLOCKS – CAG 2013 for ONGC and GSPC.
NATIONAL TRAGEDY 3: All State Railway Lines are Single – average Passenger Train Speed is 30-55 kmph Railways is most efficient. But most of the goods are moved by trucks.
NATIONAL TRAGEDY 4: ANIMAL POPULATION HAS DOUBLED SINCE BJP RULE 1995 – but 50% of Milk is Exported. There are 27 million Farm Animals.
NATIONAL TRAGEDY 5: 8-9 million Bales of Cottons are Exported than Processed in Gujarat.
1.] Farmers in Gujarat are paid just Rs.1 lakh per acre for acquiring farmers land when the market price is Rs.10 lakh to Rs.1 crore per acre on behalf of Adani and Ambani.
2.] Health Services are in Shables some Health Centers are turned in to Garbage Dump. At one such Center out 43 Staff only 16 are on rolls but even they rarely come. When there are up to Four Patients Per Bed admitted in Delhi Hospitals – Hospital Beds in Gujarat are empty.
3.] Agriculture in Gujarat at this time of ripening Rabi Crops are getting 8 hours of Electricity, Villages get power for only 3 hours in a day.
3.] Sikhs settled in Border regions as Buffer after wars with Pakistan are being Forced To Leave Gujarat and GoG is keen to acquire their 100,000 acre land which is barely 40,000 hectares or 400 square kilometer – Gujarat geographic area is 20 million hectare.
4.] Earlier it was reported – Hospitals have no medicines, water is polluted and toilets & wash basins are stinking and Schools have no Toilets. Additional Notes
5.] Ambani & Adani revenue Exceed SGDP of Gujarat already.
6.] 6.25 crore People of Gujarat have only 1% share in RIL projects, RIL Revenue is over Rs.400,000 crores but dividend payment to residents of Gujarat is barely Rs.30 crores.
7.] Gujarat cultivates 75% area under Non Food or Cash Crops therefore people are Malnourished & Stunted and Retarded. Agriculture Production growth is BARELY 1% against 9% or 10% or 15% reported by Modi.
8.] Education Standards of Gujarat are Poor – Even Text Books have Hundreds of Blunders. Only 1% successful candidates for Civil Services come from Gujarat.
9.] Modi signed 51,000 MoUs for $1500b but very few Industries came up.
10] Number of Employee Provident Fund Accounts had declined by 25,000 in last few years pointing to Shutting Down of Factories.
11.] Wages in Gujarat are LOWEST in the country.
12.] Gujarat doesn’t contribute even 1% to India’s Defense Forces – people are unfit for Armed Forces.
13.] Gujarat contributes less than 0.5% in IT Services.
14.] Corrupt Gujarat government force FARMERS to install Very High Cost Drip Irrigation for Conventional Crops.
15.] Gujarat Industries are MOST POLLUTING WITH ZERO IPR Contribution.
Everything Is MADE to Fail in Gujarat By Incompetent & Corrupt Modi Government
Net GDP of Gujarat Was 7% of India in 1995, 2005 and is 2014.
There is No Change In Spite of Rs.10,00,000 Crore Industry Funded By India Due To Mega Corruption, Enrichment of Ambani & Adani.