Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Once upon a time...we needed pigeons to relay information!

Once upon a time, we also needed the precious sacrifice of Pheidippides who ran 42 km as a human courier from Marathon to Athens to herald victory!

Not too long ago we had the telegram to convey vital texts of information which too phased away. 

Today with the penetration of technology by way of mobile phones in smaller towns and villages...the postal system is on it's last leg!

Oh boy...we have indeed come a long way! With giant strides in science and technology, we have ushered into the "Digital Age" where information travels faster than the speed of light!

Now figure these stats which speak for themselves on India's global ranking in the usage of technology -
India is the second-largest mobile phone user with over 900 million users in the world. 
India is the third largest internet user and is pegged to reach 213 million by December 2013

Technology today has become an inherent part of our day-to-day lives. This hand-held device which we know as the mobile phone has a persona of it's own because it has lent so much versatility  and mobility to our lives - besides the intended purpose of audio, visual, text  and multimedia communication, it also dabbles as our alarm clock, daily organizer, camera, video recording device, music player etc. And today with the numerous apps powered by the internet, it has made the mobile an omnipotent device which enables you to harness it to the optimum limits for practically any purpose you wish it to be; be it for SOS purposes, as a pocket television, GPS- Navigator, E-teaching & E-learning, E-commerce, Social Networking etc. among the innumerable functions.

Now, the big question here is, "How would you inspire and mobilize India's youth to vote in the Indian General Elections 2014 using social mobile apps?"

Let's break this question into two halves by firstly understanding what are social mobile apps? What are it's functions? How is it beneficial?

I'll cite WeChat as a good example of Social Mobile App since I am currently using it at the moment. In a nutshell, WeChat (like many other social mobile app) is a free to download social mobile app that enables multimedia communication with text/hold-to-talk voice/ broadcast messaging, photo/video/location sharing and contact information exchange. With all the best features and services streamed over the internet; it's zero extra cost and pocket friendly!

Coming to the question,now that we know the salient features of a social mobile app.

So, how would I go about inspiring and mobilizing the youth of India to vote in the Indian General Elections 2014 using social mobile apps?

Obama's social media campaign was a super-hit!
Before, I address this question I'd like to go back some 5-6 years ago as I recalled how Senator Barack Obama (now President of course!) inspired the youth of America when he used social medias as a tool for communication and change. He used social medias to facilitate the process of registering unregistered voters in their constituencies,engaged with the people through web conferences, e-newsletters, Facebook and Twitter to make them aware and abreast of the policies he had envisioned for them. The result was-a thumping mandate by the people of America! It was not merely the victory of America when they elected the first Afro-American President but the emergence of a new instrument of communication which was untapped and un-treaded before that made a silent and stunning debut as it successfully transformed the landscape of how elections in the future would be fought, a new turf emerged, it was the 'Social Medias'

Back then,social mobile apps was yet to emerge as a front-runner and become yet another outlet for virtual media communication as it is could well  imagine what the footprint of this campaign might have been if it were to be held in the present day! 

With Barack Obama's victory, people around the world were inspired by this feat where an election was successfully fought and won using the virtual space. This success spilled over and was the beginning of many revolutions to come in countries around the globe on issues of corruption, human rights, activism, oppression etc. And I was inspired too!

             Transforming the way we communicate!
With the rising population of mobile phone and internet users among the youth, social mobile apps have become even more relevant today for it is a dawn of a new tomorrow that can be instrumental in changing the face of governance! 

I truly believe that this little gadget powered with social mobile apps could well be the game-changer in the Indian General Elections of 2014! With a proven track record of mobilizing the masses through social medias, Barack Obama's model could well be replicated in India using social mobile apps.  

And here's how I'd go about it...

Time to make a choice!
1. I truly believe that the coming elections is a fantastic opportunity for young electors like me to stir for change and be in the reckoning! I'd put social mobile apps to practical use in an endeavor to galvanize people and encourage them to exercise their franchise which could be the beginning of things to come. 

For example, I'd start by asking my friends in my closed user groups (CUG) on whether they have a Voter I-Card or not and ask them to register for one. I would then go on to explain them on why casting their vote is important in a participatory democracy as ours. I'd time and again reason with them that we get the government we deserve. So if we cast our ballot, then we have the right to raise our voice when our government does not live up to our expectations rather than just carb and criticize as an outsider.

2. Through timely texts, I'd send reminders to friends and ask them to cross-check if their names are on the electoral rolls to avoid unnecessary hassles later. I'd build a frenzy and excitement among the first time voter friends in my circle on how their participation can change the destiny of our country. And then I would ask them to carry out this activity within their user groups as well with the hope that the circumference of this circle grows each passing day.

3. My next step would then be to gradually expand my user group and interact with newer people outside my group on issues and topics by sending visuals, stats, alarming facts etc. in real-time rather than wait for an opportune moment or platform to do so. 

Vote for change!
4. I'd use the broadcast messaging feature and social hangouts using my smart phone to organize discussions and debates while articulating my thoughts and accommodating newer perspectives; while at the same time send out a warning to those who oft treat voting day as a holiday and how their lackadaisical attitude could cost the country dearly. Organizing tele-conferences using multimedia tools via social mobile apps has become so much easier to convey your thoughts and emotions on issues that are dear to us or even for holding discussions and debates on the lacuna's of our system and finding solutions to them.

5. I'll  then ask my friends to create a pool of videos which they have come across or instances where they have been citizen journalists on issues like corruption, price rise, malpractices, bribery etc that must be brought to the public domain which  we would share and circulate among friends and alike . The best part about social mobile apps is that if the issue is relevant, it strikes a chord with the masses and the video goes viral with the whole of India having a say in the matter. This would be another way to trigger their hopes, frustrations, anger and channelize these energies into getting them to go out there and vote.

6. Countdown to the 'the' day of polling, I hope to keep this momentum stronger and growing by assigning responsibilities to my friends so that they mobilize as many people they can within their communities and outside on a sustained basis. 

But do cast your precious vote!
7. On the day of polling when I don't see my friends at the polling booth, I would instant message them to come and vote instead of enjoying it as a holiday which is a matter of national shame. 

8. When there's a dismal turnout, I will send multimedia messages of images and videos to my friends so as to let them know that if the right government is not elected, they are to blame. The good report card of the country is in their hands.

9. The best part about social mobile apps is that you are not confined to a space, you are mobile! You can pursue your daily work and during your 15 minutes break/ recess you can make a difference! After all, it does give you joy if you get the leaders you choose to lead your country rather than a bag full of surprises.

10. Another advantage of using social mobile apps is that it has broken the barrier of formality be it in terms of language whether verbal or written. No one is going to judge you by your spelling mistakes here! 

11. Also, you don't have to be dressed for the occasion or be a public just have to express your inner-most thoughts while explaining your user groups on why each vote is important. And within moments you will so many newer perspectives in this whole interaction streaming in!

12. Thanks to social mobile apps, I don't have to be physically present at one place to advocate on issues, causes etc. I also do not need to hire an auditorium or play-grounds to champion my popularity among the crowds! Those days are's history. I can make my point on serious issues pertaining to the election and the issues looming our country at large while I am sitting at home or for that matter anywhere and reach out to millions by just using social mobile apps!

The power of change lies in our finger-tips, quite literally! It is the same finger we use social mobile apps to network, engage and mobilize communities.And it is with the same finger we can cast your precious vote that can either make or break our country...the choice is in our hands!
Jai Hind!

This post was written for the 'Indian General Elections, 2014' contest at Indiblogger in association with WeChat
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