PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: For the final anniversary of the year of India’s “Family No. 1″—the birth anniversary of the nation’s first woman prime minister Indira Gandhi—there are 70 advertisements amounting to 32 published pages in 12 English newspapers that have been surveyed through the year by sans serif.
With this anniversary, the total number of government ads to mark the three birth and three death anniversaries of the three former prime ministers from the family—Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi—in the year of the lord 2011 goes up to 393.
In effect, the government has bought space amounting to 190¼ pages in the 12 newspapers.
# The Times of India is the biggest beneficiary of the ad blitz to mark the six anniversaries among the general-interest newspapers with 65 published ads followed by Indian Express 62, Hindustan Times 57, The Hindu 42, The Pioneer 41, Mail Today 36, The Statesman 25 and The Telegraph 18 ads.
# The Economic Times and Business Standard top the list of the busines dailies with 14 ads each, followed by the Financial Express with 11 ads. Mint (from the Hindustan Times stable) has received just one ad for the six anniversaries.
# As a group, the Times group has received 79 ads in all, the Express group 73 ads, and the Hindustan Times 58 ads.
While it is natural that ToI and HT should garner so many ads given their large circulations in the national capital, the second place for the Express group is revealing considering it sells less than five per cent of market-leaders ToI and HT in the Delhi market, which both sell in excess of 5 lakh copies.
The tabloid Mail Today, which has the third highest circulation among the Delhi newspapers, too gets fewer ads than the Indian Express.
The affection of various Union ministries, departments and State governments for the three departed leaders of the family is revealing.
While Rajiv Gandhi tops the charts with 177 advertisements amounting to 89 pages for his birth and death anniversaries, Indira Gandhi comes second with 134 ads amounting to 64 pages, followed by Pandit Nehru at a lowly 82 ads amounting to 37¼ pages.
The breakup of the Indira Gandhi ads today are as under:
Hindustan Times: 24-page main issue; 10 Indira ads amounting to 4¼ broadsheet pages
The Times of India: 32-page issue; 11 ads amounting to 4¾ broadsheet pages
Indian Express: 28-page issue; 14 ads amounting to 5¾ broadsheet pages
Mail Today (compact): 42-page issue; 7 ads amounting to 5½ compact pages
The Hindu: 24-page issue; 5 ads amounting to 2 broadsheet pages
The Pioneer: 20-page issue; 8 ads amounting to 3 broadsheet pages
The Statesman: 18-page issue; 6 ads amounting to 2¾ broadsheet pages
The Telegraph: 26-page issue; 0 ads amounting to 0 broadsheet pages
The Economic Times: 16-page main issue; 3 ads amounting to 1¼ broadsheet pages
Business Standard: 18-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ pages
Financial Express: 22-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1¼ pages
Mint (Berliner): 12-page issue; 0 ads
This computation is only for 12 English newspapers; many other English papers have been left, as indeed has the entire language media which are more numerous than the English ones, several times over.
Among the advertisers wishing the dear departed leader happy birthday this year are the ministries of information and broadcasting, commerce and industry, steel, women and child development, health and family welfare, culture, water resources, statistics and programme implementation, north eastern region, micro small and medium enterprises, social justice and empowerment.
The state governments advertising their love are those of Rajasthan, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. Besides, there are ads of the national commission for women.
Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:
“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”