THE STATE OF UNION COMMUNICATION

DailyPost 1715
THE STATE OF UNION COMMUNICATION

India is a union of states and therein emanates the concept of cooperative federalism. The division of tasks and powers have been delineated in the Constitution of India, the longest document of its genre, of the two partners of federalism, on which the health of governance would depend. The *modalities of communication between governments, the different entities; legal and constitutional which have been created as part of this mechanism, has not been spelt out. Any requirement of this nature was not felt till recent times. The age-old governmental communication was letters, approvals, orders, gazette notification, press notes, cabinets notes, minutes of the meeting and so on and so forth. There was no other alternative. The straightjacketed governmental communication had kept the country in good stead, till recent times.

The complexity of communication in the dynamic and real time Digital  Age and the complexity of personas in the vitiated vested interest enabled political, bureaucratic, media and technology world has thrown the iconic governmental communication in a total disarray. Social media has added a completely new mutant of official communication, which has gone way beyond the government communication competencies to handle. To cut the long story short, the country has landed in governmental communication which nobody knows how to rectify. Might be they are unaware of the sanctity of official communication and the sanity it can bring to the country.  For governments to work on Twitter or make it as the main tool of official communication should  be treated as blasphemy.

Nobody knows how to track govt communication and whatever documents they can lay their hands on,  becomes the gospel truth and they go hammer and tongs against the government. The governments which operate through outsourced party spokespersons also collect whatever documents they can lay their hands-on. The efficacy of official communication seems to have been lost. Party and government communication are two totally different animals. Any effort of bringing the two together, would only damage the credibility of the government. It does not matter which party is running the government. What should be realized with clarity, that governments are neutral organizations specializing in governance and their decisions and communications thereof have a distinct element of the objectivity, to the extent of being empirical.

It is a tragedy of governments that official communication to the world is primarily being delivered by unofficial sources. Sometimes, you get a feeling, as if these are the official sources. Very rarely do we even hear of news agencies these days; or the PIB or DD gaining prominence in government related news dissemination. The biggest challenge to federalism is the current spate of virulent communication. Leaks and make-believe communication rule the roost. There is nothing as a cardinal reference.  There is a daily communication tirade going all around the place. One sitting CM comes to a press conference to prove his worth by showing letters sent to the central govt. In the digital age, we still don’t have the email trail brought forth anywhere, to prove a point. With official communication becoming a football in the present environment, it is difficult to project the future trajectory.  Do we want to become a social media / electronic media driven state.

A MODERN, DYNAMIC, REAL TIME, DIGITAL GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION REGIME, LEGALLY MANDATED SHOULD HAPPEN, SOONER THAN LATER.

Sanjay Sahay

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