Innovating Political Communication
Exploring all means of communicating with people you stand for is more than just an initiative. A politician can be your representative only when he clearly understands your needs even before promising to fulfill them. Obama’s campaign in the run up for the presidential polls in America was a precise example. One important aspect of his campaign was the extensive and effective use of the online medium. With over 700 million Indians below 35 years of age and most of them net savvy too, online communication can prove to be effective here too. While door-to-door campaigning still remains the primary approach but a word or two on your desktop will be more enriching.
A plethora of websites on Indian politics provide us with complete information on elections, which include exclusive news features and interviews with leading political personalities, opinions and analysis of noted experts, headlines from leading media across India, profiles of politicians and their parties, an overview of 50 years of elections in India, etc. And to make it entertaining gaming portals have some interesting political games such as Vote a Leader, Political War, Who Wins, Vote Fun, Segment War, etc. One can even choose one’s prime minister with the click of the mouse! But it’s not that easy as we all know.
During the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the Internet had accounted for less than 1 per cent of the advertising budgets of the political parties. Today, the digital media makes up at least 10 per cent of the budget. The existence of our political parties in cyberspace indicates that internet is the new arena for politics. For example, in order to enrich our knowledge about the party, the website of the Indian National Congress lists out everything from the party’s history to its current standing in the country. Moreover, apart from English, the website is also available in Hindi and Urdu. Many of our political leaders such as Sonia Gandhi, President of INC, Rahul Gandhi, General Secretary of INC, Gurudas Kamat, Sanjay Nirupam, Priya Dutt, Milind Deora and Sachin Pilot also host their respective websites. Other parties like the BJP and the CPI (M) have also taken the same course.
This is helping in attracting substantial attention from the youth and also encouraging their participation in democracy. Internet is not only being used as a tool to promote the party’s agenda but is also facilitating interactivity with the common man and his representative. Various day to-day issues are being discussed in the form of blogs, chats and opinion polls. Online campaigning is revolutionizing political communication but is at a nascent stage now. Although only a fraction of voters can be accessed online due to technological constraints, each opinion is valuable.
Hopefully this blog will enhance our communication and go a long way in understanding each other’s perspectives.