Netas in govt ads: No exceptions, please

The Supreme Court’s ruling that photographs of only the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India can
feature in advertisements in newspapers and other media, including the Internet, has started a debate on why even these three personalities should be allowed if such publicity was ‘antithesis to democracy’ and could develop ‘personality cults’ at the cost of the public exchequer.

The court has barred the publication of photographs of governors and chief ministers and others, saying that institutions need not be glorified but they must earn glory by contribution and work. This might lead to some states asking for a review of the decision.

Creating personality cults?
While the order from the Supreme Court’s bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and P C Ghose, which stopped political leaders from deriving political advantage by associating themselves with social benefit schemes or achievements of the government in power — in the Centre and states — is a welcome one, shouldn’t the same argument be held valid for banning the appearance of photographs of the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India? Wouldn’t featuring them in advertisements also lead to personality cults at the cost of taxpayer money?

The verdict has also changed the way advertisements are being designed in the past two days. In some insertions, the PM’s photograph has been enlarged to an alarming extent. Does this not help a particular person get all the attention of the readers? Meanwhile, a television commercial that has a CM appealing to the people and bureaucrats to end bribe raj has also been airing.

The verdict would have been welcomed wholeheartedly if it had really encouraged things to become issue specific instead of personality specific.

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