The UP govenment has another freebie — this time for journalists. It is going about quietly distributing Samsung tablets to select journalists, without citing the purpose of the gift, or the criteria for the selection for beneficiaries.
The journalists have been offered the Samsung tablet, along with books on Kumbh Mela, a book, Lohia ke Lenin, written by PWD Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav on his elder brother and SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav, and a set of two pens. The package is being personally delivered by senior officials of the UP Information Department at the doorstep of the journalists.
Incidentally, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is the Information Minister. Officials of the Information Department refused to talk about the matter, saying it was a sensitive issue. However, many journalists have chosen to return the gift.
A journalist, who was offered a tablet three days ago, said: "You suddenly get this call from a deputy director in the Information Department, who says he is standing outside your residence, and has to communicate something from the Chief Minister. When you meet him, he offers you a bag carrying books along with the tablet."
He said the Samsung Tab 2 he was offered had a price tag of Rs 16,820. Hemant Tiwari, president of the UP Accredited Correspondents' Committee, said, "We neither demanded it nor are in favour of any such freebie. The very procedure being followed by the state government raises doubts, as they are doing it selectively without any clear-cut policy or prior announcement. It sets a wrong precedent at all levels."
Siddharth Kalhans, general secretary of the committee, said that other state governments have announced schemes for journalists but they have done it openly and not in a clandestine manner.
"They have not clarified the policy, reasons, or even justification for such distribution. No one knows how many people have been selected, how have they been selected. It is only after the arrival of a senior official of the UP government at their doors that people realise what they are being offered. We have decided to oppose such dole," said kalhans.
Pranshu Mishra, a journalist from the electronic media who was also offered the tablet, said, “I returned it because it is against our policy. Moreover, when asked under what policy the tablet was being offered, the government official had no answer. If they want to help journalists, they can come out with a policy. Those who need it would avail it and those who do not want would not avail it, but distributing freebies in this manner is not acceptable."
Shalabh Mani Tripathi, another journalist, said, "I was on tour when this packet from the Information Department landed at my residence. No one knew what was inside it. When I returned and opened it, I saw that along with the books there was a tablet inside as well. Since there was an Information Department logo on the packet, I called up the senior officials who told me that it was a small gift from the government. I have since returned it.'' (IE)