Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Can Social Media 'Reform' Indian Society -2 : Social Media and Decision Making

Social Media: Can social media bring transparency in decision making apparatus of Government through crowd sourcing?

Let me try answering this question keeping in mind a developing nation with a vibrant civil society like India .

People, now clamor for transparency in policy making and functioning of government , and hence see Social media as a savior to reach those demands. 

As a developing nation, when we look around in the world, countries are struggling to create such an environment because it is prohibitively costly to create such an extensive framework where opinions of citizens could be taken by Government.

On the other hand, government is trying to take hold of Internet as a medium. Though it is impossible to achieve that state, it actively discourages people from voicing their concerns for the fear of spying by the government. Recently , our government issued a statement that it is creating a central authority for screening 'every byte' of information that is communicated. So these acts would just create a 'Unhealthy environment ' for discussion.

So what we need is a Citizen organization which can act as a facilitator of voicing grievances and Social media based framework would be much cheaper to establish and robust too. But can creation of such a body alone solve the problem ? No.

What we need is a change in stance by Government in tolerating opposing views in cyber space and it should try create a framework wherein better suggestions would be rewarded. The citizen organization should be in a position to exercise authority by having a partnership based interaction rather than being a postman. That would prevent government from manipulation and the worst case scenario of making the whistle blower, a convict. 

Distrust causes hesitation among masses to express freely on a forum that is run by the government, especially if censorship and punishment might follow.

A McKinsey and Co., report states that by 2015, 330 million Indians will be online. As of now it has 120 million Internet users and Over the next three years, India will add the highest number of Internet users, taking the penetration rate to 28%. India boasts of 62 million facebook users (3rd highest user base globally) and more than 15 million twitter users. These figures are likely to grow, indicating that there is a fertile ground which is emerging, wherein more and more people expect real time access and authentic engagement.

//Any problem is half solved, once it is properly defined//. Hence with existing social media and right policy decision from Government to facilitate such a Citizen organization, would help it to identify the problems and accelerate the implementation.

Here, I would like to add an recent development :

In case some of you are interested, the Urban Development Ministry (India) is inviting citizens to join a new Google group they have set up in order to crowd source/solicit recommendations and ideas on the 14th Central Finance Commission - with respect to Urban Local Bodies. 

The link to subscribe is as follows: 

[Thanks to Arbind Gupta for providing the correct link]

Hoping to see how things get shaped up.


  1. I doubt the numbers quoted. 120 million internet users. Appears far fetched. Many a time, we don't take into account people who own multiple machines - laptops and desktops. I live and serve in a very remote area of India. The number of people who use the internet for personal work and recreation is such a small number. I'm not sure of how much impact we netizens can create in this country.

  2. I doubt seriously. Statistics says, people are active in social media only, neither they are social nor then want to do some thing in reality.

    Simple example I can give - many Bangalorians are active in Internet and all form of social media, but what is the voting turn out in the last election? Very low... around 50% when the state average is 60-65%.

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