Thursday, 25 April 2013

Can social media 'reform' Indian society?

Before we address the social media as a single entity, lets analyze on how 'homogeneous' is the crowd that constitutes this 'supposed' influence group.

Though the current global discourses point towards the major role that social media play and could play, it would be a partial view of the big picture that is emerging. Many factors like the level of openness that is inherent in a society, the form of government that is ruling, the historical data on people's response to popular movements/Activism in a particular region is not considered, when organizations jump on to conclusions about the role that social media could play. They seek to simplify the social media engagement and its influences only through further simplified variables like followers, fans, likes and shares. What we fail to understand is that actions are effected by individuals and not virtual numbers.

We need to understand that in case of India,  social media influence is usually overestimated. Views may lie but numbers don't . A rough back of the envelope calculation would prove that, though the active users are growing the tangible activity isn't as much as we would expect . So we need to keep our expectations realistic and engage this growing crowd with information and debates .

And just as how I mentioned, "social media activity shouldn't be overestimated" , Our society's empathy should also be not overestimated. 'Empathy' is a major factor that played out in Arab countries as Arab spring. And hence we need to factor in the level of empathy, that social media could elicit in our target population.

However this  doesn't mean that Social Media is just a passing hype that has to be ignored. It means that our perception of Social Media needs to factor in diverse factors above mentioned in order to course-correct our expectations and the type of social media campaigns that we would seek to undertake.

The role that social media plays now is,  developing a Collective consciousness. And that is in fact needs to be aroused for our society to be sensitive about perpetrated crimes and pressing issues . In case of perpetration of crime against women, We are still living in a society where a significant percentage of people from all levels share a thought that these crimes are brought upon by the victim .So that means the level of empathy is very low that is clouded by issues like the social class of the girl,her age,the community she is from and so on. When such is the case , these Facebook statuses, Likes,tweets,memes,photos and shares are indeed playing a great role in keeping these incidents in our collective memory with a sense of empathy.

So on the whole, I believe that Social Media as a system is deserved to be understood better and that would enable us to reach out to people with earnest intent and brimming confidence.

Coming back to the question of 'Reform', only an organic growth would stand the tough times and that's the reason why Social media needs to internalize 'humane' aspects to behave as an super-organism, in order to effect our Aspirations. Because its 'WE' who constitute 'Social Media' and not 'Little Green Men/Women from Mars'.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Thus Spoke An Non-Resident Desi Ant - The Tale of the Vanquished : A.D 2061

We all would have heard the story of Industrious Ant and  Carefree Grasshopper.

It goes like The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant is a fool and laughs dances plays the summer away. Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed. The Grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

And here comes a Desi twist to this Aesop fable.

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant's a fool and laughs dances plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering Grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the Ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

NDTV, BBC, CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poor Grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

And now starts the " Classic Appeasement Indian Drama " !!!!
Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the Ant's house.

Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other Grasshoppers demanding that Grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter .

Mayawati states this as 'injustice' done on Minorities.

Amnesty International and Kofi Annan criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the Grasshopper.

The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the Grasshopper (many promising Heaven & Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance) .

Opposition MPs stage a walkout. Left parties call for 'Bengal Bandh' in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry.

CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and Grasshoppers.

Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the 'Grasshopper Rath'.

Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the 'Prevention of Terrorism Against Grasshoppers Act'[POTAGA] , with effect from the beginning of the winter..

Arjun Singh makes 'Special Reservation' for Grasshoppers in Educational Institutions in Government Services.

At last, The Ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, it's home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the Grasshopper in a ceremony covered by NDTV, BBC, CNN.

Arundhati Roy calls it 'A Triumph of Justice'.

Lalu calls it 'Socialistic Justice'.

CPM calls it the 'Revolutionary Resurgence of the Downtrodden'

Kofi Annan invites the Grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly.

Many years later...

The Ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multi-billion dollar company in Silicon Valley ,

100s of Grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in India ,


As a result of losing lot of hard working Ants and feeding the grasshoppers, India is still a developing country...!!

Thus Spoke An Non-Resident Desi Ant  to its American Born Confused Desi Antlings ......... 


* An Updated version of a hugely circulated e-mail , "Exactly this is India , and its Still a Developing country"