| Ibobi fails to stem the DIPR rot
From our Special Correspondent
IMPHAL, July 3: Chief Minister Okram Ibobi who has been striving to revamp the moribund Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) to highlight the achievements of the three successive ministries under his captaincy knows that he is having a game fight since he cannot smash the deep rooted factionalism and anti-establishment groups within the office. All these years this important portfolio had been under some other ministers.
Ibobi belatedly learned that the DIPR was subjected to slow motion and non-functioning as a long term plan to sandbag him was since he sure to return for his third innings. Long time back the DIPR had stopped sending reporters and photographers along with the ministers touring various developmental projects. In other words, the people were not aware of the good works undertaken by the government. Having no alternative most of the ministers personally took several reporters in their tours.
When the new ministry was installed early this year Ibobi kept the DIPR portfolio to himself. Perhaps he planned to revamp the DIPR so that it could highlight the achievements of the ministry. However, he has yet to kick start the publicity campaign. He is hamstrung by the fact that there is no experienced professional in the department to guide him properly and effectively. Besides being the Chief Minister who is having most of the portfolios he is a busy man and have no time to give proper attention to the DIPR.
In this background it does not come as a surprise that the proceedings of the question answer session of the Manipur Assembly on Monday were not video taped. All these years the DIPR video tapes, the proceedings and then telecast the same in the Doordarshan Imphal. Inquiries say that the higher ups in the DIPR were not in the mood to ask the officials concerned to video tape the proceedings of the budget session. Once it dawned on them they will be held accountable there was a flurry of acitivity. A copy of the proceedings was obtained from a private cable service. It remains to be seen whether the Chief Minister pulls up the scheming officials.
Recently one newspaper had exposed how the director is attending office just for a few hours everyday. He is not doing much to improve the relations between the government and the reporters. Whenever there was a crisis like boycotting the government news, the DIPR officials remained at a safe distance without doing anything. It was also pointed out that one retired additional director is involved in all sorts of corruption.
And this scheming person tried to get appointment on contractual basis even after retirement. The Chief Minister has taken note of objections from some circles. If this person is thus engaged on contract basis there are many efficient officials with clean image who cannot be ingored.
Most of the higher ups in the DIPR are more interested in purchases, contract works and other works which involves huge expenses. But these officials are ignoring normal officials works, especially concerning public relation works with the press and people. On the advice of experts Okram Ibobi had written letters two times to post one professional officer in the DIPR. However, the vested interests had torpedoed it for reasons not far to seek.
It remains to be seen whether Ibobi will be able to revamp the DIPR by posting the professionals and jettioning the dead woods. Ibobi has not been making much headway since his advisers are some retired government officials who had miserably failed to prove their mettle. If Ibobi fails to wriggle out of the cocoon created by these bird brained advisers DIPR will not be revamped.