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AgVoice | Social Media: The Real impact on Indian Elections

“Voting is not a right. It is a method used to determine which politician was most able to brainwash you.” ― Dennis E. Adonis

Now many might term this as an inordinately cynical way of interpreting “voting”, or “electorate” by an extended logic, and “elections” at large, by a double extended logic. But if I were to turn this quote on its head, it does smack of logic. A belief I stuck on to since my early PR days, everything in this world is about marketing and public relations. Be it a brand trying to connect with its audiences (even the most honest overtures), a Bollywood superstar projecting himself as a crusader of transforming India, a corporate honcho being positioned as a humble taskmaster or a political leader championing the cause of secularism, development or corruption… the more creative, coherent and consistent is the campaign, the greater are its chances of resonating with its audiences.

But that’s the theory. One of the practical manifestations of this marketing omnipresence, has been the rise of one of the most powerful and “noisest” creatures in 

human history – the Social Media. Enough has been written and said about the impact of social media, or the lack of it, on global happenings like people’s uprisings, Obama (re) elections and closer home, the biggest election extravaganza since the dawn of mankind. 830+ million is a massive electorate base, by any stretch of imagination, and will continue to be the biggest till.. may be China embraces Democracy.

Needless to mention, social media has caught the fancy of politicians and voters, alike, given its unprecedented reach and impact. Again, a dime a dozen articles can be found online about how social media has dramatically impacted the Indian political landscape & 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. But according to me, social media has done something to our country, at a much more subliminal level. Given below are a few…

Indian elections were always depicted in a stereotypical representation. Usually, one dominating party and hundreds of regional parties. A political aspirant or incumbent minister, clad in crisp white kurta pyjama, urging voters with folded hands to exercise their franchise smartly by voting for him / her. Social media has brought about a paradigm shift, as India has showcased to the world its amazing ability to leverage IT / Technology, arguably much more effectively than most nations on this planet. We have embraced the future of elections.

Democracy was a mere rhetoric used by Indians and its Parliamentarians, every time an argument had to be made about the greatness of India. The world’s largest democracy can now live that USP, by truly making people a part of the decision making process. There have been many stories about political parties have crowdsourced election manifestoes with inputs from lakhs of followers and fans. Social media has effected the creation of the world’s largest participative democracy.

The world is flat, or at least becoming flatter, and transparency is at its very heart. For a country that prides itself on passing the RTI Act, a transparent functioning of its ministers or open Governance has never been its strength. Social media promises to change the notorious secrecy attached to elections and politics. As my ex-colleague had prophesied, “there will be a world, one day, devoid of any hierarchies or opaqueness.”

Indians have always been a bunch of politically aware citizens. But by and large, we have indulged in charismatic politics or idol worship. Not that I foresee a radical change in yeas to follow. But social media has brought about an interesting paradigm shift – we can now question the vote seekers, interact with them via Twitter, influence minds of millions via our views, among other advantages. Indians now have a voice, and we can elect our political leaders after a thorough round of background checks, due diligence and awareness.

Most importantly, social media has always been perceived as a “playful tool of the young”. Even the “older” Indian Politicians have been forced to embrace this global reality, and resultantly, forced the “apathetic” Indian citizen to take notice, and participate in the conversations. And what better tribute to the youngest democracy in the world, with the largest youth population, to fight elections with the youthful zing that we all so badly deserve.

3 cheers for the Indian democracy. 3 cheers for the world’s largest socially-driven electoral battle!!! | By Ashish Arora, Vice President, Social Media & ORM, at Interactive Avenues

About the writer:

Ashish Arora is the Vice President, Social Media & ORM, at Interactive Avenues. Having spent his entire career spanning 13 years in communications, Arora considers himself fortunate to have been brought up by PR and legally adopted by social media.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect in any way of Adgully

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