By Subhajit Chandra, New Delhi, Apr.8 ANI | 9 months ago

An interactive session here on Social Media and Politics at the Observatory Research Foundation (ORF), threw light on Shaili Chopra's critically acclaimed new book 'The Big Connect

Shaili Chopra who is the author of the book unravelled the whackiest things that surrounds the virtual world, including Twitter from where someone aspiring to even contest the Lok Sabha polls could get a ticket.

She herself went candid about the fact that how she sent a tweet to Sam Pitroda and fixed up a meeting for her book launch.

An interesting thing happened when the author was surprised to find that when she subscribed to India 272 plus she started getting proposals to join as a volunteer with the BJP, it was that simple.

She termed that it was the negative stories which trends the most and thus it catches the eyeballs of the public and thus becomes the headlines of the news channels.

The author stated that someone had once said to her that if one scratches any individual in India then one could get startled to find how an extremist is well entrenched deep within one's personality. It is literally the hastags which defines the television today.

She said that social sites once being a taboo for the political parties has now become taken by storm and is set to rule as she gave party wise estimates of how the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was spending approximately 400 crores on digital space, similarly the Congress was also not far behind from its rival. She poked fun at how a Congress leader had contested that the party doesn't spend even 100 crores on digital media. Chopra said that even the AAP was utilising this area to its advantage and have raised a lot of funds in that process. It is the 'me too' syndrome she said was playing which is pulling all the parties to opt for social media. Even the regional parties like the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the DMK were also firm proponents of using the virtual world.

Priyanka Chaturvedi, Spokesperson, All India Congress Committee, termed that although Congress was a late entrant as compared to the BJP in the digital space but she gave a reason behind that. she said that Congress believes in volunteer driven initiative as it doesn't believe in outsourcing its campaign through some agency. She said 'feku' was Congress' way of taking on 'Pappu' brand of twitting by the opposition which is negative and slanderous. She said that the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi would better like to tweet himself than asking some agency writing his thoughts for him. Chaturvedi said that it was his time constraints which forced the Gandhi scion to stay away from tweeting.

Nitin Pai, Co - Founder, Takshashila Institution, stated that media reflects a counterpoint to authority. He stated that whenever there were news which was against the government it instantly caught the eyeballs of everyone. Similarly Pai was hardhiting on the fact the kind of political discourse seen on the virtual world like the twitter was below par and equal to a nude man standing on the road to seek attention.

Raheel Khursheed, Head of News, Politics and Government, Twitter India said that it was through twitter that ideas of the people have come to the forefront related to political issues and hence people are discussing more through social netwroking sites like twitter.

What came out from this discussion was that certain degree of negativity sells in the virtual world and also how the impact of virtual community has on real India. Thus, social media has become part of our communication matrix. Given that 25 percent Indians talk about politics on web goes to show how much politics has become a part of discussion even among the youths and that parties are now following the footsteps of their western counterparts like Barrack Obama and Gordon Brown to reach out to the masses.

It will truly be a litmus test for the digital space users as to how much impact it has created on the general elections which will be known after the ballots are counted come May the 16th.

(Posted on 08-04-2014)

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