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Social Media An Empowerment for Citizens of India

In the recent years, Social Media has emerged as the fastest growing Information and
Communication Technology tool enabling governments to interact with citizens and vice
versa. It has potential to take governance to the next level and redefine Democracy.
Currently, social media is not directly involved in eGovernance activities but can give an
extra dimension in the pursuit for Good and effective governance which is the very intention
of eGovernance. It has capability to bridge the missing link between government and citizen
direct interaction.
According to the Digital India 2014 report, there are 205 Million internet users in India and
is expected to reach around 350 Million by year 2015. It also reveals that 86% of the total
internet users visit social networking sites. The study reveals that there are more than 100
million Facebook users, about 33 Million Twitter users and around 28 Million g+ (Google +)
users in India.
Apart from those mentioned above there are other social media websites which are also
popular like LinkedIn, YouTube for video sharing, Local Circles, Pinterest, Instagram etc.
Re-defined Democracy through Social Media
The current government of India is very enthusiastic to leverage the power and reach of
Social Media to disseminate information regarding programmes, policies and rights of
citizens of India directly, and get feedback, suggestions and grievances from citizens. The
Prime Minister of India himself shares his day to day activity through social media.

The recent example is the use of Local Circles by the BJP members to get in touch directly
with the citizens of specific locality for getting their suggestions and grievances on certain
issues of public importance. After collecting the suggestions, a white paper is submitted to
the concerned ministry.

There are few other social media initiatives like change.org, walkfree.org etc which are used
in India and globally to write a public petition or start a campaign on an issue and get it
signed by public for the submission to the concerned authorities. For example - On July 12th
this year at the Asia Cup Championship at Wuhan, two Sikh Players were humiliated for
wearing a turban. Just minutes before their first basketball game, they were asked to

remove their turbans because their headgear violated FIBAs rules. A public petition was
written on Change.org and circulated to the public on-line for support against FIBAs
discriminatory rule. More than 69000 people signed this petition before it was submitted to
FIBA. FIBA considered the petition and bowed to sustained pressure and announced that
they will allow basketball players to play with their turbans or other religious headgear on.

Similarly, Mrs. Jyoti Gupta who lost her 3 yr old daughter Lineshya and husband die in front
of her eyes. They were right outside their house waiting for the school van when a speeding
bus came from the wrong side and dragged them away. Both of them died on the spot. The
driver who killed her family was out on bail within a few hours. In fact, in the last 10 years
alone, more than 1 million people including Cabinet Minister Gopinath Munde have died in
road accidents in India. Jyoti decided to start this petition on change.org along with
SaveLIFE Foundation asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure a stronger road
safety law and introduce it in Parliament.

More than 1.84 lakh people have already signed the petition. Govt of India is expected to
introduce the new stricter Road Safety Law Bill in the current session of Parliament.
Conclusion
It is good to witness that social media has emerged as the strongest enabler in
strengthening the democracy globally. The emergence of social media has posed an open
challenge to the monopoly of Main Stream Media (MSM) by getting news feeds, videos etc
through crowd sourcing with no cost. At times it was witnessed that even MSM relies on the
news provided by Social Media.
Along with all the good things of Social Media, it has also got its negatives. If it can play a
constructive role for a democracy, it can also become force of destruction. The case of four
youths from Mumbai, who secretly went to Iraq to support terrorist organisation ISIS was
facilitated by SM. One of whom is recently captured by Indian Intelligence officers from
Turkey. The example of Egypt, Cuba where SM played a very important role in organising
wide spread disturbances and destabilising the country. The recent independence
referendum in Scotland, separatist movements in Italy and Spain, the shearing of Ukraine,
and dissolving borders in Iraq and Syria, all of these events are both facilitated by social
media, which allows like-minded activists to find each other, and fuelled by it because the
loudest, most extreme voices tend to garner the most likes and retweets.

References
http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/10/29/social-media-destabilizing-world-sayssocial-media-marketing-ceo/NDxk2HR3JJlGblJ58QmIXK/story.html
http://www.globalresearch.ca/social-media-and-the-destabilization-of-cuba-usaids-secretcuban-twitter-intended-to-stir-unrest/5376720