The Contemporary Mahabharata and Social Media

ImageThe February 18 issue of India Today featured a special report on the eternal war of India’s greatest political clans, the Congress and the BJP. Their latest warfare tactic is to resort to social media, namely twitter for live updates as well as Youtube to stream videos of speeches, rallies and other political events.

To the aam aadmi, politics is a part and parcel of life, so is the Internet. According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India’s study conducted in June 2012, there were 200 million Twitter users globally of which 18 million accounts were from India. More than 45% of Internet users discuss politics on social media sites and online forums. The majority of the population have taken to voicing their feedback through the Internet in recent times. Politicians too, have understand the wonders of social media and its effective reach. The Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari remarked that a change had indeed been embraced and that the Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are now accepted political media. The Congress opines that this is not merely a tactical decision aimed at Election 2014 but a long term strategy.

The importance of social media rests mainly on two points. The Indian middle class, which earlier felt it could not affect election results have taken to popularity polls and seeking information through the Internet. Secondly, and more importantly, it is seen as a far reaching mouth piece which can communicate directly to the masses without being edited or abridged by news reporters, editors, TV anchors and other media middlemen. Statements being falsified, cooked and twisted to suit unhealthy media agenda and political shrewdness is a popular routine. which is why social media is seen as a straight forward channel, albeit a smart tool to foster the right ‘buzz’ and hype. “It’s you, dealing directly with the people. the benefits are obvious”. says Tewari.

Tailpiece: ‘Like’ to cast a vote for your favorite candidate might not be too far away. Wonder if the #Election Commission needs to have a think tank. Or maybe a #Parliamentary discussion? Food for thought.


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