More social media initiatives from Modi govt

Decks Cleared For Introduction Of Instagram Panchayat

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a new dish on his social media outreach menu.

And that is Instagram.

Modi, who is proving to be some kind of social media missionary, is said to be aggressively pushing with his Ministerial colleagues for the regular use of Instagram, the video/photo-sharing service that is mostly popular among people whose credo when they see food served on the table is: shoot, and perhaps, eat and leave.

Taking the lead, as he is wont to do in such matters, Modi instagrammed his lunch this afternoon, which turned out to be dal makhani, phulkas, vegetable rice, cucumber salad, papad and some buttermilk. ‘Bhojan hum sab ki maa hai’ was the caption that went with it.

The instagrammed picture of Modi’s lunch quickly became the talking point on social media platforms, and so it naturally became the most important news for TV channels to breathlessly follow with Times Now leading the race with the news story that was inevitably titled ‘Breaking Bread With Modi’ and hashtagged #FoodForThoughtFromPM

Rajdeep Sardesai, in the last show before he left on leave, debated the question : Modi’s use of instagram —- does it signify the death of Nehruvian people-first, technology-later governance?

It is pertinent to point out that Modi is the first Prime Minister of India to put Instagram to official use. But, to be fair to Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh, he had indeed formed an Empowered Group of Ministers to know what this Instagram thingy is. Rahul Gandhi had reportedly spoken of Instagram as a tool of women’s empowerment, especially Dalits, because it helped them to tell the world that they at last found some food to eat after weeks of starvation.

Among the early applauders of Modi for instagramming his lunch was former Minister in the UPA government, Shashi Tharoor. Writing in Daily Feast, Tharoor, in a signed article, said, ‘it sends out all the right messages to the public that the country’s top neta himself eats a frugal lunch just like them’.

He added: ‘What we are seeing is perhaps Modi Version 3.14, someone who has his hand on every pi(e)’.

Meanwhile, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, said that the government would want to encourage the use of Instagram not just with the Central Ministers alone. ‘We are looking to extend the programme to the States and down to all Corporations, municipalities and so on. Our dream is to take it to every village so that, eventually, we can call the programme: Instagram Panchayat’.

Elsewhere, in a related development, the PMO has formed a WhatsApp Group for Modi’s Cabinet Ministers. The group, called ‘Cabinet Cavaliers’, has been formed to help Modi to be fed the details, on a real-time basis, of all the projects and works that his Cabinet colleagues were working at any given time.

‘Modi was known to be a hands-on man during his days as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He has brought the same dynamism and resourcefulness to the PMO now. The WhatsApp group ‘Cabinet Cavaliers’ is a reflection of his on-the-fly working style,’ said a highly-placed source that is always anonymous in such news reports.

It again needs to be pointed out that the previous Prime Minister Manmohan Singh initiated a process to form a similar WhatsApp group with his then Ministerial team-mates to keep a tab on their workings. But the whole plan came unstuck after a technical committee shot down the proposal with the terse note, ‘Dear Manmohan Singh, We are in receipt of your proposal to form a WhatsApp Group for you and your team. We are constrained to point out that WhatsApp could be installed only on a smart phone and not on your Nokia 1100’.

Rahul Gandhi, for his part, started a WhatsApp Group for the Congress Party. ‘Happy to be using this, as my father was responsible for bringing WhatsApp to India,’ was his first and only message in the group. When people check into it, it now reads: ‘Rahul Gandhi — Last Seen: Never’.

(Disclaimer: As we grow to press with this news, comes the word from the PMO that Modi, continuing with his active online presence, has just successfully completed the 2048 game. It is also learnt that the Prime Minister has also opened an account in his name on QuizUp)