The more than usual dose of rhetoric about youth and jobs after 2008 financial crisis made it an important electoral plank. The smartphone boom coincided with flooding of social media sites. Suddenly but subtly mobilization in a predominately agricultural economy like India happened virtually. The 35 crore middle class was enamored by a corporate style aggressive and charismatic Modi. The BJP successfully stuck a balance between this style of campaigning as well as showcasing Mr. Modi’s oratorical skills in mammoth rallies across the country.
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More importantly, Modi was able to woo the aspirant urban and rural classes through the rhetoric of development. His government is too actively engaged in social media; with BJP leaders having twitter accounts and ministries like Railways promptly replying the passengers in distress.
Not only in Centre, the recently bifurcated Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have seen their Chief Ministers too bitten by ‘development bug’. This collusion between technology, jobs, development, reform and social media marketing for the same has seized the electoral space. Political parties are now engaging professional political strategists like Prashant Kishor to win elections. Gone are the days of veteran party leaders delivering old wine in new bottles.
It would be a mistake to account for digitalization only by focusing on youth. Disposable incomes have risen as capitalism makes in-roads in the interior of the country, rural to urban migration has fueled middle-class dreams, an acute shortage of employable people and a rise of an aggressive-communally polarized-economically sensitive middle class are the reasons for it.
Social media is maybe a boon for an information-starved country but it too has its shares of troubles. Many communal riots were fueled by misstating facts and deluding people. Due to utter political opportunism, social media has become a political slugfest where there are no norms for civility and decency. Innumerable examples can be quoted for the same. Information overload over unnecessary pieces of news also disturbs one’s peace of mind. Cyber crimes like trolling, delivering threats due to expressing different political views are common.
Despite these drawbacks, the age of social media had dawned over the great Indian political circus where the hopeful and ascendant classes have pinned their hopes on ‘development’ with a hefty dose of job promises too. Political actors have understood the reach of social media and its capacity to get viral and generate news. Strangely, only a minuscule percentage of Indians have an access to these sites but it is their common demands that have made them important political constituency.
Written by Rishya Dharmani
"Life is not a mystery, as they say, rather it is simplicity itself. Unlearn, fail and realize the true joy."