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The Effect of Social Media Mobilization in
Contemporary Indian Politics
Dr. Mithlesh Jayas Mukherji
PhD (Pol Sc)
‘Democracy is a deeply communicative brand of
politics – it demands communication and exchange
of information and views, it demands dialogue and
a public sphere in which citizens can engage in the
practices which define them as citizens and the
society as democratic’
Darin Barney, The Network Society, (Oxford: Polity, 2004)
Traditional methods of Political
Mobilisation
Traditional methods of Political
Discourse
 Till 1959, radio main means of communication.
 Newspapers limited reach in literate areas.
 TV in early days controlled by State.
 Advent of colour TV in 1981-82 brought crowds with explosion in
viewership in 1990s after onset of satellite TV and airing of epics.
 Spread of mobile phones in the 2000s and advent of smart phones with
internet TV has revolutionised information spread.
Effect of Epic and Ram Janmabhumi Movement
This collective sharing of an idealized Hindu past provided the
opportunity of religious nation wide mobilization
Social Media
 The revolution called social media has actually taken the world by storm
 Its growth has been exponential where Radio took 38 years to reach 50 million users.
 TV took 14 years to achieve the same target
 The internet got there in 4 years, iPod took 3 years for the same
 Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months.
 In the past few years, social media have made a rapid growth in terms of user counts
globally.
 Facebook has more than 1.2 billion active users.
 Twitter counts more than 200 million users .
 Google Plus has more than 540 million users.
(Sources- Facebook Statistics & Wikipedia)
WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA
Social Media engineered revolution:
THE ARAB SPRING
Indian Spring thru Winter: The India Against
Corruption Movement and Nirbhaya Case
Mass movements
coordinated by effective use
of Social Media in India
Social Media in India
Social Media as Effective Political
Communication Tool
Politicians promote their
controlled speech and
present their point of
view without being
interrupted by
journalists or by media
format limitation.
By means of social
media, political
parties or politicians
can mobilize public
and invite them to
participate in issues
of public interest.
By using the social media
tools, politicians and
political parties interact
more efficiently with
their supporters
Social media is
playing a considerable
new role in
encouraging public
participation in
political discourse.
It is really a long leap from
the times when politicians
were relied mainly on
posters, cardboard, cutouts,
graffiti, banners and
personal canvassing to win
over voters.
Social Media as Effective Political
Communication Tool
• Among major political parties in India, BJP has the biggest charisma in social media. BJP
started using the social media even before 2009 general election.
• In 2014 election, several senior leaders like Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley,
Narendra Modi and many were on social networking sites.
• Social media has also credited with helping the new Aam Aadmi Party and its candidate,
Arvind Kejriwal, win a surprise victory in Delhi against major political parties
……..and what does this social connectivity mean in
electoral politics?
 study by Iris Foundation in 2014: out of India’s 543 constituencies, 160 were
‘high impact’  most influenced by social media. Also another 67
constituencies were medium impact and 60 were low impact. Thus out of
543 constituencies, social media influenced results in 227 constituencies
accounting for 42% with some impact in another 11%.
 In the 2014 General Elections, 31.3% voters in age group of 18-35 years with
24x7 exposure to social media.
 Subsequent State level elections also witnessed massive use of social media
mobilisation to even motivate voters to come and vote; had high voter
turnouts with decisive mandates (Haryana, Delhi, Jharkhand)
Higher voting in 2014 general
elections
Voting Pattern change in 2014
general elections
Mobilisation of both sexes…… more
women came out to vote because of social
media mobilisation
Highlights of Indian General Election 2014
India election 2014 was the world's biggest exercise in electoral democracy. The election 2014 had
814 million eligible voters. In this election a total of 8,251 candidates stood for election. The process
of voting lasted for five weeks and a total of 551 million votes were cast. The total voting
percentage was 66.38% . It was the largest turnout of voters in the Indian Democracy.
Modi Wave - "Aab ki baar,
Modi sarkar“:
India witnessed Modi Wave in
support of the BJP campaign
slogan that were premised on
"Aab ki baar, Modi sarkar“. By
the last day of campaigning on
May 10, Narendra Modi had
undertaken the largest mass
outreach in India's electoral
history by travelling about
300,000 km for 437 public
meetings in 25 states besides
1350 innovative 3D rallies.
Rahul Gandhi declares that he was
"ready to take charge:
Rahul Gandhi announced that he was
"ready to take charge" of any
responsibility the party gave him. At
the party meeting it was decided not to
name a prime ministerial candidate
amid fears it would turn the election
into a presidential one.
Emergence of Aam Aadmi Party:
Following an electoral win from
the 2013 Delhi election, the Aam
Aadmi Part contested from 424
constituencies in India.
2015 Delhi Assembly Elections:
Social Media “Mediated” Elections?
Total voting percentage over 69% with 100% social media coverage. Over 26 lakh Twitter
followers and over one crore Facebook likes for the three major political parties
combined (BJP, AAP, Congress).
Modi Wave flounders despite
popularity of Modi:
• Had 44,000 followers on Twitter
and 15 lakh likes on Facebook.
• Personal Twitter handle of Kiran
Bedi had 3.88 million followers.
Congress still left behind in new game:
• The Delhi Congress could only manage 44,000 likes on
Facebook and just about 4000 followings on its Twitter
handle
• Had already looked like given up even before the votes
were counted.
• Ajay Maken had 3 lakh followers on Twitter.
Emergence of Aam Aadmi Party:
• After its impressive debut in 2013 elections where it
won 28 seats, AAP made massive use of social
media and romped home with 67/70 seats.
• Had 44,100 followers on Twitter and 6.5 lakh likes
on Facebook.
• Personal Twitter handle of Arvind Kejriwal had 3.51
million followers.
Studies done on Social media effect in politics
in India
The other side of the coin….
However social media is not all clean and upright.
• Information Overload and Quality of Online Discussions: can degenerate into
abusive verbal fights.
• Fragmentation of Public Sphere on basis of religion / caste / community
• Lack of Accountability – any one can post anything. Any picture can be used to
convey any agenda (CUT - PASTE – FORWARD type posts)
• Lack of Credibility: false news, false profiles
• Internet Censorship
• Increased exhibitionism in society: posting whatever they do or wear in social media.
 India has a large population below the age of 35
 Advent of social media caused engagement of general population for
expressing political opinions. The youth is talking about the political issues
and actively participating in the political process.
 Earlier the political discussions were restricted only to those who read
newspapers, watched news channels or participated in local discussions,
social networking has made the youth of India to sit up and discuss political
issues.
 A revolution in the use and spread of social media in the Indian political
space is real, tangible and accelerating.
 This process is still ongoing with many trials pending. The uncontrolled
nature of social media postings (Assam riots or Delhi State Elections,
January 2015)  can be misleading, manipulative and can misinform people
and can swamp genuine political reporting and comment.
Conclusion
Thank You

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Social media in politics

  • 1. The Effect of Social Media Mobilization in Contemporary Indian Politics Dr. Mithlesh Jayas Mukherji PhD (Pol Sc)
  • 2. ‘Democracy is a deeply communicative brand of politics – it demands communication and exchange of information and views, it demands dialogue and a public sphere in which citizens can engage in the practices which define them as citizens and the society as democratic’ Darin Barney, The Network Society, (Oxford: Polity, 2004)
  • 3. Traditional methods of Political Mobilisation
  • 4. Traditional methods of Political Discourse
  • 5.  Till 1959, radio main means of communication.  Newspapers limited reach in literate areas.  TV in early days controlled by State.  Advent of colour TV in 1981-82 brought crowds with explosion in viewership in 1990s after onset of satellite TV and airing of epics.  Spread of mobile phones in the 2000s and advent of smart phones with internet TV has revolutionised information spread.
  • 6. Effect of Epic and Ram Janmabhumi Movement This collective sharing of an idealized Hindu past provided the opportunity of religious nation wide mobilization
  • 7.
  • 8. Social Media  The revolution called social media has actually taken the world by storm  Its growth has been exponential where Radio took 38 years to reach 50 million users.  TV took 14 years to achieve the same target  The internet got there in 4 years, iPod took 3 years for the same  Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months.  In the past few years, social media have made a rapid growth in terms of user counts globally.  Facebook has more than 1.2 billion active users.  Twitter counts more than 200 million users .  Google Plus has more than 540 million users. (Sources- Facebook Statistics & Wikipedia)
  • 10. Social Media engineered revolution: THE ARAB SPRING
  • 11. Indian Spring thru Winter: The India Against Corruption Movement and Nirbhaya Case Mass movements coordinated by effective use of Social Media in India
  • 13. Social Media as Effective Political Communication Tool Politicians promote their controlled speech and present their point of view without being interrupted by journalists or by media format limitation. By means of social media, political parties or politicians can mobilize public and invite them to participate in issues of public interest. By using the social media tools, politicians and political parties interact more efficiently with their supporters Social media is playing a considerable new role in encouraging public participation in political discourse. It is really a long leap from the times when politicians were relied mainly on posters, cardboard, cutouts, graffiti, banners and personal canvassing to win over voters.
  • 14. Social Media as Effective Political Communication Tool • Among major political parties in India, BJP has the biggest charisma in social media. BJP started using the social media even before 2009 general election. • In 2014 election, several senior leaders like Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Narendra Modi and many were on social networking sites. • Social media has also credited with helping the new Aam Aadmi Party and its candidate, Arvind Kejriwal, win a surprise victory in Delhi against major political parties
  • 15. ……..and what does this social connectivity mean in electoral politics?  study by Iris Foundation in 2014: out of India’s 543 constituencies, 160 were ‘high impact’  most influenced by social media. Also another 67 constituencies were medium impact and 60 were low impact. Thus out of 543 constituencies, social media influenced results in 227 constituencies accounting for 42% with some impact in another 11%.  In the 2014 General Elections, 31.3% voters in age group of 18-35 years with 24x7 exposure to social media.  Subsequent State level elections also witnessed massive use of social media mobilisation to even motivate voters to come and vote; had high voter turnouts with decisive mandates (Haryana, Delhi, Jharkhand)
  • 16. Higher voting in 2014 general elections
  • 17. Voting Pattern change in 2014 general elections Mobilisation of both sexes…… more women came out to vote because of social media mobilisation
  • 18. Highlights of Indian General Election 2014 India election 2014 was the world's biggest exercise in electoral democracy. The election 2014 had 814 million eligible voters. In this election a total of 8,251 candidates stood for election. The process of voting lasted for five weeks and a total of 551 million votes were cast. The total voting percentage was 66.38% . It was the largest turnout of voters in the Indian Democracy. Modi Wave - "Aab ki baar, Modi sarkar“: India witnessed Modi Wave in support of the BJP campaign slogan that were premised on "Aab ki baar, Modi sarkar“. By the last day of campaigning on May 10, Narendra Modi had undertaken the largest mass outreach in India's electoral history by travelling about 300,000 km for 437 public meetings in 25 states besides 1350 innovative 3D rallies. Rahul Gandhi declares that he was "ready to take charge: Rahul Gandhi announced that he was "ready to take charge" of any responsibility the party gave him. At the party meeting it was decided not to name a prime ministerial candidate amid fears it would turn the election into a presidential one. Emergence of Aam Aadmi Party: Following an electoral win from the 2013 Delhi election, the Aam Aadmi Part contested from 424 constituencies in India.
  • 19. 2015 Delhi Assembly Elections: Social Media “Mediated” Elections? Total voting percentage over 69% with 100% social media coverage. Over 26 lakh Twitter followers and over one crore Facebook likes for the three major political parties combined (BJP, AAP, Congress). Modi Wave flounders despite popularity of Modi: • Had 44,000 followers on Twitter and 15 lakh likes on Facebook. • Personal Twitter handle of Kiran Bedi had 3.88 million followers. Congress still left behind in new game: • The Delhi Congress could only manage 44,000 likes on Facebook and just about 4000 followings on its Twitter handle • Had already looked like given up even before the votes were counted. • Ajay Maken had 3 lakh followers on Twitter. Emergence of Aam Aadmi Party: • After its impressive debut in 2013 elections where it won 28 seats, AAP made massive use of social media and romped home with 67/70 seats. • Had 44,100 followers on Twitter and 6.5 lakh likes on Facebook. • Personal Twitter handle of Arvind Kejriwal had 3.51 million followers.
  • 20. Studies done on Social media effect in politics in India
  • 21.
  • 22. The other side of the coin…. However social media is not all clean and upright. • Information Overload and Quality of Online Discussions: can degenerate into abusive verbal fights. • Fragmentation of Public Sphere on basis of religion / caste / community • Lack of Accountability – any one can post anything. Any picture can be used to convey any agenda (CUT - PASTE – FORWARD type posts) • Lack of Credibility: false news, false profiles • Internet Censorship • Increased exhibitionism in society: posting whatever they do or wear in social media.
  • 23.
  • 24.  India has a large population below the age of 35  Advent of social media caused engagement of general population for expressing political opinions. The youth is talking about the political issues and actively participating in the political process.  Earlier the political discussions were restricted only to those who read newspapers, watched news channels or participated in local discussions, social networking has made the youth of India to sit up and discuss political issues.  A revolution in the use and spread of social media in the Indian political space is real, tangible and accelerating.  This process is still ongoing with many trials pending. The uncontrolled nature of social media postings (Assam riots or Delhi State Elections, January 2015)  can be misleading, manipulative and can misinform people and can swamp genuine political reporting and comment. Conclusion

Editor's Notes

  1. This is a nice quote as it focuses in on the important role of communication technologies within democracy – Today we will be considering how the ideals of democracy are extended by new communication technologies such as the Internet and how uses of the Internet such as social media have impacted and extended these ideals We will be looking at the role of the traditional media in democracy and the inherent problems with the role of the mass media as the fourth estate within democracy Then we will look at how social media is used by politicians, citizens and to aid the development of democracy / activism in non democratic states
  2. Traditional methods of political dissemination news channels, debates, nukkad dramas, radio, newspaper.
  3. Social networking sites like facebook, twitter, youtube, google plus and many more mobile apps like whats app, hike messenger, v chat etc. have allowed users to share ideas, pictures, posts, activities, events and interest with people in their network.it enables netizens to communicate openly from all over the globe with no constraints of time and space.
  4. The effect of social media seen in recent times in arab’s spring revolts in 2011. where popular discontent channeled through social media to remove unpopular dictators.
  5. the Arab spring of 2011 and the mass mobilization in India in 2012 during the Nirbhaya rape case and Anna Hazare’s movement for “India against Corruption” brought out the true potential of social media enabled mass mobilization for political and economic causes.
  6. The term ‘information overload’ has become synonymous with debates of the ability of increased information alone in enhancing democracy. This perspective is reductionist in the sense that it discounts human agency and assumes an interest in politics. The mere provision of increased information does not guarantee increased political sophistication; it also overlooks the need for new skills to find, organise and process this vast quantity of information, as the average person’s ability to absorb information will not increase. Much of the criticism of the Internet as a public sphere has focused on whether the nature of online discussion constitutes rational debate, if online communities are representative of the public – it is difficult to define what exactly constitutes rational debate or the pursuit of a common good but the majority of online discourse concerns the provision of opinion, not to ‘solve problems or seek consensus – no evidence of the cultivation or development of public opinion’ The fragmentation of audiences has been well documented within broadcasting and has been mirrored by the proliferation of niche broadcasting; the term ‘accelerated pluralism’ has been used to explain how the Internet ‘exaggerates the negative aspects of pluralism, whereby the public sphere fragments into many small groups pursuing their private interests’ Although anonymity may help overcome existing societal hierarchies and stereotypes; online discussion is often dominated by elites, and political divisions are similar to those in traditional politics; meaning these stereotypes and hierarchies persist even online. Anonymity can also create problems of lack of accountability, which may heighten levels of extremist discourse This is not to mention the assumptions of universal access and independence from corporate and political interests, that are inherent to utopian perspectives. Any discussion of the Internet as a public sphere is based on the assumption of universal access - if citizens are excluded from the dominant public sphere they are essentially disenfranchised and denied their citizenship rights. The Internet is a technology born in the capitalist era and there are concerns that ‘capitalist patterns of production may commodify these new technologies, transforming them into commercially orientated media that have little to do with social welfare’. The Information Society Reader, ed. by Frank Webster (London: Routledge, 2004), pg 387