Thursday, March 05, 2009
Within hours of taking the oath, the President of United States of America, Barack Obama, launched a new version of www.whitehouse.gov . The message was clear, the new president is tech-savvy and knows that so is the electoral college which voted for him. The new website has features like announcement about his government's policies, his government's opinion on important issues, the agenda, a peek into the administration side of things, etc. Besides these there is the presidential blog. One of the most amazing features of the site is that the users are allowed to vote and comment on important issues and their votes and opinions are taken into consideration while formulating any law for the land. The people of US also get to subscribe to their President's youtube channel, RSS feeds from his blog, streaming video of his speeches and a lot more.
This is an expected move from a young President from a country where the depth of Internet connectivity is such that almost all its citizens are touched by the Web 2.0 phenomenon and are using Internet not just for sending emails but in all areas of their lives.
Things are quite similar in India even when Internet penetration is nothing compared to the First world countries (we are the first democracy to have electronic voting machines remember?). The 'great India election' dates were announced just a couple of days back but the ads campaigns have started long back for most political parties. BJP has again emerged as one of the pioneers when it comes to leveraging the power of Internet to stir up the tech-savvy voters of India. Almost everywhere you point your mouse these days, Mr. Advani's face is just a click away! (He's been able to make a lot of visits to CnC as well). With Arun Jaitely again in command for the election campaign (or at least the tech side of things for now) we can only see more and more of 'Vote for Advani' ads floating in the cyberspace. With most political parties realizing that election this year would be won based on which way the youth on India swings, everyone is trying to give a 'fresh appeal' to his/her party. Congress has been projecting Rahul Gandhi (the cute dimpled, stylish and supposedly dynamic 'Rajkumar' of the congress) as the hope for the youth of India, though staying clear of any internal complexities and commotion of showing any inclination to project him as a Prime Ministerial candidate for the future. BJP, on the other hand, void of any major 'young' names as of now, is making the old (and may I add, just about one more general election left types) Advani run up to gyms and spas all over the country to pick up dumbbells. He has also been visiting colleges in BJP-friendly states like Karnataka to 'advice' them on how they can play a role in bringing about a change (by making sure that India does not 'change' its old customs, traditions and pre-conceived notions about women-in-the-pubs). In one such address here in Bangalore last week the college students were made to sit for the function who later decided to boo the 'national leaders' when they started giving out 'gyan' to the young minds; most of them opted out of the meeting to catch up with some shopping in the commercial street or a sip at the nearest CCDs.
The message is clear, all political parties are trying their level best to capture the attention of the youth of India. Many young leaders are being considered for tickets, entertainment taxes are being cut in Karnataka, in states like Uttar Pradesh and Delhi congress is conducting special recruitment drives to catch young talented political minds, BJP is flooding the cyberspace with flash ad blocks.
With campaigns like Lead India and JagoRe.com things do look better this time. If the elected Indian political scene again shows the weakness that it has long been associated with, it would be for lack of options and not a dearth of young voters. With 'Jai ho' fast replacing 'Jai Hind' in the young circles of the country, it may perhaps be time for a government that promises to do something at the grass-root level to improve the situation of the nation that is going to be and not just speak about the legacy of Indian culture and the power it used to be in the times when the world was not connected enough to know about it!