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What Can The Indian Government Do Rather Than Banning Social Media

With the soaring communal violence the Government has proposed to ban social media and monitor it. But is banning social media the only way ahead? Can the government take one step further and use social media for its benefit?

I was born in a small town called Haldia, West Bengal. For my higher studies, I moved to Pune and once while travelling in the Azad Hind Express I met a young guy in early 2000. The guy was visiting Pune for the first time for a job and he told me that it was his first ever train journey. The young lad belonged to Manipur and he was in his early twenties. During the journey he shared quite a number of stories and one of them was about how he had to travel to the nearest town which was a six hours journey to watch television.

Fast forward today nobody knew who was Mary Kom till the time she won a medal. Not only that I have observed that we still treat them as if they are coming from some different land. The present unrest has been prevailing for a long time and governments have been suppressing it ever since. So what is happening in the North East today is a culmination of this rage.

And as usual the rising egos in the state and central government and the ever growing distance between Delhi and North East have cost us dear.

Common man is again suppressed in the hands of opportunists who have benefited from these riots. Seeing the growing tension, the state ministry has set the ball in the neighboring country’s court and our 60+ educated central ministers have placed the trigger once again on “Social Media.”

social media | What Can The Indian Government Do Rather Than Banning Social Media

Why the Government wants to ban social media?

The intention to ban social media or monitoring social media has been an alternative with the government for some time now.

Our ministers who were still using websites to show their presence, were caught napping during the Anna and IAC (India Against Corruption) movement last year. Part one of the movement which made Anna and his team clear winners was also due to the humongous presence IAC created on social media.

After the movement, we saw that the Government with the face of Kapil Sibal started playing a double role. In one avatar, it started creating its presence on social media and in its other avatar it started talking about monitoring social media. But will putting a ban on social media solve the problem?

Riots didn’t evolve with social networks coming into picture, it has been there before my birth. It will always be there even if we ban social media then emails, groups, mobile phones, etc. You can’t blame technology and turn a deaf ear to the root cause of the problem.

However, I also understand the virality feature of social media and it being a double-edged sword. In recent past, I have seen images being morphed by evil brains and creating tension on social networks. We do know that every technology in this world has its positives and negatives. The onus is on us – how we use a technology and then educate people about the two sides of the coin.

The government has miserably failed and has become the butt of jokes on social networks. One of the primary reasons is that instead of using social media to create a bridge between the people and the ministers, we have seen the presence is either blowing their own trumpet or ending up in parliament kind of fights.

The Prime Minister’s office had initially created a presence on Twitter and later on Facebook and YouTube. All the accounts are out there online to see what the government is doing. There is nothing wrong in this but social media is not only about talking about yourself but it is also about listening.

Not just the current government but most of the other parties’ social media presence is also namesake. Mamata Banerjee initially became famous because she wanted to monitor Facebook but later seeing the reactions of the people she joined Facebook. The response was good, numbers are there…but can anyone complain about anything. I doubt anyone would like to risk doing it!

Is there any other alternative than putting a ban?

Whenever we have tried to control something without rational thinking, it has backfired.

So, instead of banning social media, the government can use it in its favor controlling the crisis of NE. The virality feature that our politicians are scared of can be used for killing rumors. Can’t the government get in touch with Facebook and Google India to find out ways to use social media in a better way? Can’t the Government start a social media campaign to “Save NE and Save India”?

Twitter is one of the tools that the government can use. A brilliant example is how Nirupama Rao, India’s Foreign Secretary used Twitter during the evacuation of Indians at the time of the Libyan crisis. The Twitter account was regularly updated for the public to know about the evacuation.

Social Media is not rocket science; it is about communicating with humans and for that you need to have the will to evolve and change. Banning social networks is not a solution to combat rumors but it is a half backed measure to cover the lid on the growing tensions.

It’s high time that our babus take a serious effort to understand social media and how can it be used effectively.

[Author Bio Prasant Naidu is a Blogger and Founder at Lighthouse Insights, a site that talks about Indian social media news and insights.Loves to experiment in social media and believes social media is a game changer for SME's.]

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7 comments

  1. By seeing the posts on your fb time line , I don't think there can be a neutral discussion on censorship, threats , security. maybe I am wrong. but posts say a lot about a persons affiliation.

  2. This solution will never work. have you tried making a group/page Can’t the Government start a social media campaign to “Save NE and Save India”? It already exists and run by….. there are many similar groups on fb. b groups are gamed and users who know how to add 100,000 users are the groups which become trusted and reputed.

  3. Dharuna Manivannan

    Definite solution which govt will never opt!

  4. Misfortune Life – Accommodation at Kolkata. Phase – 1. April 12th 2012 arrived at Kolkata; been in temp guest house; vacated the temp guest house on 25th April 2012. On 25th April 2012 took Paying Guest Accommodation at Mahishbathan [ Nr Govt School] – Nr Technopolis. Bargained for A/C room + Single Occupancy Room that has attached Toilet facilities + Food @ Rs 9500, paid Rs 30,000 advance – Thank GOD I made payment by online transfer, though they were insisting to pay cash. May and June, 2012 they did not give me Air condition room or any facilities, I also kept quite since it is Learning and Relearning time for me about People @ Kolkata Vs People @ Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Unknowingly I paid Rs 15,000 Rupees cash in July 2012. July, 2012 struggled even for tea at paying guest house; since 2 people who were partners started fighting among themselves and started collecting cash as much one can grab, in the process Mr Raja who is partner and negotiated with me Not Found / not to be seen for several days. August 2012 – Mr Tapas another partner starts sending people local Politicians and Musclemen to me, with advice to vacate the Room and instead of hating Mr Tapas I started liking his approach – he started using 3rd party locals to vacate all those who do not want to pay more money to him on his revised terms. The way he puts face innocently and coax others to threaten others – I have fallen with his strategic play to take full control on this business by removing one partner after the other. Phase – 2. To avoid any confrontation with localities; since I am mentally concluded I started searching for alternative accommodation, any other all together new experience – Broker are Integral parts which we need to respect – however Unorganized brokers do not understand dynamics of Salary Vs Living standards – when they see non localite Rs 6,000 worth house becomes Rs 12,000 per month, Rs 8,000 per month accommodation becomes Rs 15,000 per month. Funnier: I met house owner a Week ago I saw house; house interior in dilapidated condition; Toilets were more shabbier than Public Toilets; I asked the owner to MEET on 18th at the Flat he has shown @ Indrapastha , Nr Kaikhali Bus stop, for discussing time frame to get the things cleaned and all issues pertaining to hygienic conditions sorted out, however he wants to come to my office and came to my office ; all the while he was sitting and talking to me – he did not write anything; nor he made any legal agreements and was insisting that I should pay money ; Once bitten Twice shy – I clearly told him 18th, 19th and 20th August 2012 are holidays , hence he should 1st make all documents legally , validated with Registrar also. However on 20th August 2012 [National Holiday RAMZAN] he sent me SMS me that he is sending Legal Notice to pay damages Rs 10,000 for not showing up on 20th August 2012 on his 1st SMS to visit Court as well as Registrar Office for making documents. Now I wish to experience Judiciary @ Kolkata / West Bengal. Police system at Kolkata. Surya Mahadeva; Mob: 09493183145. http://www.facebook.com/surya.mahadeva.5

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