"No Funds Spent on Union Ministers' Interviews With Influencers": Anurag Thakur

Four influencer marketing agencies have been engaged for info dissemination on govt schemes, says Anurag Thakur.
"No Funds Spent on Union Ministers' Interviews With Influencers": Anurag Thakur

The Information & Broadcasting Ministry informed the Lok Sabha that the government has deployed four influencer marketing agencies to disseminate information about the government’s schemes and intiatives to the public.

The ministry said that while the agencies have been empanelled by MyGov through the citizen engagement platform launched in 2014, no money has been spent on this till date.

“The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has informed that MyGov undertook a process for empanelment of influencer marketing agencies in March 2023 with the objective of enabling wider dissemination to enhance citizen engagement in respect of information related to various schemes/ campaigns/ initiatives of the Government of India,” Information & Broadcasting Minister, Anurag Thakur, said in a written reply to a question by Congress MP Manish Tewari.

Tewari had reportedly sought the information on the basis of a tender filed on 7 March titled “Request for empanelment with MyGov.” The MP wanted to know about the cost of the entire exercise.

"Based on responses to the bid, MyGov has empanelled four agencies. No amount has been spent under the said empanelment process till date,” Thakur replied.

Thakur said that the Central Bureau of Communications (CBC), under the I&B Ministry, takes up campaigns related to publicity or awareness generation on government programmes and schemes.

“For this purpose, CBC has in place transparent policy guidelines for empanelment of media/agencies and release of advertisements and other promotions on media platforms, including digital media/social media,” he replied.

According to the tender, the empanelled agency will be required to provide services at all stages of the influencer marketing campaign ranging from discovering the right mix of influencers based on campaign objectives, through influencer management, assisting with content creation and media planning and execution, and analysing and reporting on a campaign’s success.

As per the tender, the empanelment will initially be for three years and could be extended based on periodic reviews and performance assessment.

A couple of interviews with Union ministers conducted by social media influencers in collaboration with MyGov have raised questions about the Centre's use of public funds to finance these interactions.

YouTube influencers like Ranveer Allahabadia (who is known by his online name BeerBiceps) conducted interviews with Union ministers Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Union Minister of State for Entrepreneurship, Skill Development, Electronics & Technology; S Jaishankar, Union Minister for External Affairs; and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on his YouTube channel.

Raj Shamani, who is another influencer, has also uploaded similar exclusive interviews on his YouTube channel. The influencers’ interviews include the phrase “in collaboration with MyGov” in their description boxes.

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