India, Politics, Stories

The Central Government spent close to Rs 10000 crore on Publicity in the last 16 years


Government spending on publicity is nothing new. But in recent past, the amount spent on publicity has increased multifold. In the last 16 years from 2002-03 to 2017-18, the years for which data is available, Government of India spent close to Rs 10000 crore. Since 2013-14, the last year of the UPA government, at least Rs 1000 crore is being spent on publicity every year.


The publicity blitzkrieg of any government just before any elections is a well known fact. Tax payer money is used to publicize government’s achievements, schemes and what not. Quite often, this is one area where the government spends more than the allocated budget. And also, this is one area where austerity is not heard of. As per data shared by ‘The Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity (DAVP)’, under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB), the central government spent close to Rs 10000 crore on all kinds of publicity in the 16 year period from 2002-03 to 2017-18 (up to 09th March 2018).

What is DAVP?
The Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity (DAVP) is the nodal agency that takes care of multi-media advertising and publicity for various Ministries and Departments of Government of India. Some Autonomous Bodies also route their advertisements through DAVP. The DAVP is under the administrative control of the MIB. DAVP majorly uses the following channels for communication

  • Press Advertisements
  • Outdoor Publicity – Display of hoardings, kiosks, bus panels, wall paintings, cinema slides, banners etc.
  • Printed Publicity – Booklets, folders, posters, leaflets, calendars, diaries etc.
  • Audio & Visual Publicity – Spots/Quickies, jingles, sponsored programmes, short films etc.
  • Digital media publicity through Bulk SMS, website and other emerging Media.

The information on publicity expenditure was provided by DAVP in response to an application filed under RTI.

What is the total amount spent on Publicity?
The Central Government spent close to Rs 10000 crore in 16 years from 2002-03 to 2017-18. This includes 10 years of the UPA rule and six years of the NDA. As per DAVP, the data is available only from 2002-03.

As can be seen from the graph, the amount spent on publicity has increased every year except in 2006-07, 2011-12 and 2014-15. It is also interesting to note that the publicity expenditure during election years is substantially more than the normal. For instance, the amount spent from 2004-05 to 2007-08 (4 years) is equal to the amount spent in just two years (2008-09 & 2009-10). Same is the case with 2013-14 & 2014-15. On average, the publicity expenditure in an election year was 40% more than the preceding year. The overall publicity expenditure has been at least Rs 1000 crore in each of the years starting 2013-14.

What about UPA Vs NDA?
The UPA spent about an average of Rs 504 crore per year on publicity during its 10 year rule. The NDA headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee spent only Rs 47 crore per year on average. It has to be noted that the data is available only from the year 2002-03. The NDA government led by Narendra Modi spent 993 crore rupees in its first year and spent more than Rs 1000 crore every following year. The average amount spent during UPA’s first term was Rs 312 crore per year. This amount more than doubled during their second term where it spent an average of Rs 696 crore per year. The Narendra Modi led government spent a total of Rs 4806 crore since 2014-15 till 09th March 2018, an average of Rs 1202 crore per year.

What is this money spent on?
As expected, bulk of this amount is spent on print advertisements. Close to 43% of the total amount (Rs 4272 crore rupees) was spent on Print Media, 34.5% (Rs 3431 crore) on audio-visual while the rest of the 8% (Rs 786  crore) on Printed & Outdoor Publicity. Starting 2013-14, there has been a significant shift with a greater amount being spent on audio-visual than on print advertisements. In 2016-17, amount spent on audio-visual was Rs 140 crore more than the amount spent on print advertisements.

While those at the helm of affairs always advocate decrease in government expenditure & practicing austerity, this seems to be the only area that is an exception to any such rule. More & more money is being spent on publicity by successive governments.


About Author

Rakesh has been working on issues related to Right to Information (RTI) for a decade. He is a Data/Information enthusiast & passionate about Governance/Policy issues.


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  2. Excellent data. Thank you for posting this.

    what about 526 crore that AAP wants to spend on ads from a single city? So AAP is spending as much as the entire central government on ads . And that too from the revenues of a single city.

    other thing is that you have taken 5 years average of UPA and compared it with 1 year of NDA . Is it inflation adjusted ?

    Other thing is that in 2013-2014 the ad expenditure spiked. Which had everything to do with the elections . Now we can see that in in 2014-15 the expenditure actually came down.

    • Thank you. We do not have the bandwidth/resources to focus and find out on funds spent by states/UTs on publicity. Hence we are sticking only to the Central Government. There is only a marginal difference between 2013-14 & 2014-15 (less by about 4%). We will wait and see the numbers for 2015-16. The numbers are actual figures and have not been adjusted for inflation.

      • That means the comparison you provided is miss leading…I mean comparing 5 years avg with one year…

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  6. Rakesh, you have doen a wonderful job. I was wondering on this subject for an year. Can we col;lect the nature of advertisement and relate it to the governments motive. Surely the exorbitant expenditure before the election can be related to ulterior motives of governements. We can file PIL and take it up with the Chief Election commission to stop wasting of citizens money

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  8. Many thanks for sharing this very diverse opinion post where each expert has no doubt shared his best knowledge on the topic. Have more success in your journey.

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