Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Politics and the New Media

When you say that the world is covered by a network of computers, it is also important to note that half the world's population does not have electricity. However, it would not be prudent on the part of anyone in politics to ignore the ever growing population of 'netizens'.

The National Readership Survey puts about 16% as the growth rate of internet users in our country. Add that to the 16% population which already uses the internet. These figures may not be huge in themselves, but with India's population, the figure touches crores.

Researches have pointed out that political parties in India use their websites more for informative purposes than participatory. However, I can clearly see the trend changing, with political parties becoming more and more modern and tech-savvy in their outlook. The benefits of using new media technology for political communication can be manifold.
  • New media are cheaper
  • They have a possibility of tremendous reaching power.
  • They are easier to create and to edit/modify.
  • They provide more interactivity and hence more participation.

Today, in India, it is extremely important for the politicians to reach the young, tech-savvy generation who would rather visit the internet for more information than go to a 'political sabha'. I strongly believe that contrary to what is believed by many people, the younger generation is wise, mature and are exposed to realities of life faster than the older generation. I remember that when I wanted to wear my first pair of jeans, there was opposition from my parents saying that I was wearing trousers made out of gunny bags.

The point I am making is that there is a generation gap with every generation. There are bound to be differences of opinion, but that does not mean one is right and the other is wrong. What the younger generation lack is a feeling of belonging, a chance of participation in the political process. The older generation has experienced the Independence Struggle, three wars with Pakistan, and the Emergency Rule. The younger generation has experienced ready-made independence and the electronic media boom, along with growing infrastructure, modern facilities and a growing economy. Hence there is a disconnect with the past realities.

I am trying to address and bridge this gap in these generations. And I am in the right position, because I am neither in the older generation, nor in the younger one.

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