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The other day, me and some of my friends contacted each other on a social media message service. Within 5 minutes, all the 8 members of the group had information about moms angry about jobs, dads going to vacation, relationship updates, free unwarranted wisdom, new wedding invitations, the local politician rallies, a dead dog on street and new ways to procrastinate work in office. Same night, I logged into Twitter. Around midnight, tweets started flooding into my timeline about mild earthquake shocks in Delhi. I checked news channels, and there were no such reports. I thought it was rumor as I too was in Delhi and didn’t feel anything. But half an hour later when I checked the news channel sites again, I came to know that I was wrong and news channels were too slow to report shocks.  

Social media has changed the rules of traditional one to one connection communication ways with its one to many and many to many connections technology. The secrecy of affairs is outdated, the public life and show off is everything. The mailing services are limited to official uses and serve more as proof of actions ordered and response sought. Social anonymity is new cool thing to do. It serves few things such as unrestricted flow of ideas from mind to electronic signals on world wide web which many people wouldn’t do if their true identity is revealed. Getting recognized for your ideas and craziness is new status symbol in the form of Facebook likes and twitter retweets. Social gaming is new hangout where unknown people meet and try to defeat others to make them friends in return. Social media has created an alternate universe within our real world, and it is as real as a mirage in heated desert. It might not be truly what you see, but it is real no doubt.

To use social media for inspiring youth to vote in upcoming elections is a subset of efforts taken to make youth aware  about the politics of country through social media. And in a way, the social media is already doing its bit. Twitter is filled with political views of people, who express them with their name or some anonymous fake account; in both cases ,ideas are welcomed. Facebook already has blog pages of every political outfit in our country and their day to day agenda feeds are drained into our timeline.

The use of social media to drive a movement is evident from the post 16 Dec Delhi Rape protests, the Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement. Apart from these, there are many local movements like blood donation drives, donation to cancer patients, signature campaigns for a cause, search of missing people are run successfully in social media platforms on day to day basis. Power social media can be understood from the fact that many news channels report issues based on social media reporting and sometimes have specific shows on social media reports. This is evident from Kishtwar riot reporting that started from social media and then mainstream media picked it up. Social media beats mainstream media in terms of live reporting of incidents.

 

 

What can be done to bring youth out to vote ?

1.Create Voter Id Drives 

Off lately we have been tolerating those “Share Sai baba photo for good luck “on our Facebook timelines. To my utter amazement, there are always thousands of people who share that.

If Sai Baba can do it, then so can democracy. A drive can be run on various social media platforms to inspire people create their voter Id cards. That’s the first step towards going to vote. There is no reason for us to believe that those who proactively get their voter cards created will not vote in actual. Incentives should be announced for those who create voter Id such as those badge or trophies that people get when they play games online.

Source: eci.nic.in

Source: eci.nic.in

 2. Integrate SMS services to Social Media

I always thought of how I can use social media platforms when I am actually not connected to Internet on my mobile. The social media platforms on mobile should be integrated to SMS, so that people who don’t have Internet on mobile (they are in majority by the way) could also use social media. This is just to widen the reach of social media to greater extend. This can certainly enable social media to reach to rural users who don’t have much access to Internet infrastructure. Inspiration can be drawn from SMS campaigns that were run while anti-corruption movement.

3. Political Awareness

The very first step is to make youth aware about politics in India. The awareness factor can be trendify using mobile social media, and if it reaches the style and status value to be aware of things, little shall be left to draw people out of homes to polling booths. Information about agenda of political parties, candidates, local leadership, debate on recent politics etc can be a part of political awareness campaigns run on social media. We can have ratings for users like “Awareness quotient” to start the trend and so on.

 4.  Indirect Marketing 

Though indirect marketing is the concept implemented by many chit-fund companies, self help groups and sometimes bigger corporate like Amway and Avon, the concept can be used to spread social awareness and to draw youth towards voting. In this ,people are asked to pursue more new people to join the movement, and in return they get incentives. This is human nuclear fission. Campaigns can be run on social media to inspire people to pursue people in their influence circle to go out and vote. The more people someone pursue, the better his incentive would be.  He advantage with such kind of strategy is that we can also reach people out of social media circles.

 5. Integration of  Mainstream media with social media. 

Everyone wants to be seen at television, or at least wants his name to flash once on TV. It doesn’t matter how popular the TV channel is, he simply cherishes his name being flashed on a TV channel. Any campaign or movement that is being run mobile social media should be integrated with mainstream media such as TV, newspapers and Radio. In fact Radio has been experimenting with this for quite some time now. There are shows run on Radio where the audience get to participate on shows through live SMS or social media portals of radio presenters. The radio experiment has been very successful. This should be expanded to TV and print media too.

6.Oath taking signature campaigns

This may not work as an incentive but like the real world where people hold moral binding to their words by swearing, promising or giving signatures on legal documents, an online counterpart to these can be run on social media using mobile. The campaigns may be targeted to ask the users to take an oath and sign on it virtually that they would fulfill their duty of casting vote as a citizen. Signature campaigns have been pretty successful during various movements, and this time, we should use it for democracy.

 

 

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source: openparachute.wordpress.com

source: openparachute.wordpress.com

Secularism is one of the words which define the modern thought and enlightenment. Secularism is the ideology of separation of religion and state, there shall be no interference of religion in state affairs and there shall be no interference of state in religious affairs. This ideology is baseline of a system which grants more personal freedom, starting from freedom to choose religious beliefs, or not to choose any belief at all. This lies in domain of idea of personal liberty, which was the basis of many revolutions.

The idea of secularism originated out of dark ages in Europe. Though the word ‘secularism’ was first used by British writer George Jacob Holyoake, in 1851, the idea existed even before. In dark ages, the nexus of state (King) with religion (church) circumvented the entire political dynamics in favor of them. There were random executions throughout the Europe in the name of witchcraft, exorcism, blasphemy, sedition and rebellion. The only hope for people was to demolish the entire system of first estate (clergy) and second estate (nobility) dominance. This was done by French revolution, which performed the demolition by a rude cruelty. There were several political executions from first estate and second estate. The pinnacle was the execution of king and queen of France along with their family by Guillotine i.e, beheaded by huge iron Axe, dropped under the influence of gravity, so that the subject is beheaded at once, was supposed to be painless because of immediate beheading. The climax was the execution of Maximilian Robespierre, the architect of revolution, by same infamous Guillotine. But all that bloodshed was not waste, and hence came the idea of modern state dynamics such as democracy and secularism. The subsequent revolutions such as Russian revolution endorsed the idea of secularism, sometimes so forcefully that they abandoned religious thoughts in public domain completely, as done by communist regimes. 

Whereas the idea of secularism in Europe evolved out of compulsion to throw out the political nexus between state and church, in India it evolved as a way of life. It was so subtle and obvious, that Indians seldom recognized that they were secular until it was written in constitution implicitly. It all started with migration of different races and religions to India, around 500BCE. The first to arrive in India were Jews. Primarily they were traders from central Asia, willing to do business with rich Indian counterparts. India in those days , along with China, was the trading hub of the world because of all the tropical agricultural advantages both countries reaped.Later more Jews came to settle down in India because of Roman destruction of Jeruslam and destruction of second temple in 70 C.E. Later there were some jewish groups who escaped to India fearing Persian and Islamic conflicts. So, basically, jews have been a part of India since 500BCE. There was not even one conflict reported by historians because of jewish settlement in India. India was probably the only country in the world where Jews didn’t face antisemitism, and to this date, the Jewish community is peacefully living with Indians in areas of Cochin, Mumbai,Ahemdabad and Delhi. They were accepted by Indian society, and they too contributed to it. Some famous Indian Jews include Esther Victoria Abraham (first ever Miss India), Ruby Myers (aka Sulochana. Bollywood actress) and Eli Ben-Menachem (a former Israeli politician who served as a member of the Knesset for the Alignment, the Labor Party and One Israel).

Source: theshiksa.com

Source: theshiksa.com

Second to come were Persians. Persians of Zoroastrian communities arrived in India in 8th century AD, to escape the persecutions by Muslim invasion over Persian Empire. Likewise jews, Parsis, as they called in India, were very well absorbed in India. They adopted to Indian culture and begun wearing Indian outfits and following Indian cuisines, not to mention speaking regional languages. In this case also, historians never informed about any conflict of parsis with other communities in India. Obviously, India belongs to one of the few countries where Zoroastrians live. This community gave India some prominent leaders such as Pherozshah Mehta, Dadabhai Naoroji and Bhikaji Cama. Other prominent personalities of Indian persians are Homi Jahangir Bhabha (Famous Indian Physicist), Jamshedji Tata (Founder Tata group), Godrej, Wadia, Field Marshall Manekshaw (Famous Indian war Hero, 1971 war) and Freddie Mercury (lead vocalist and lyricist of the rock band Queen, who self confessed the influence on Lata Mangeshkar on his singing during his schooling days in India). 

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Sam_Manekshaw

Other than these were Christians, who came to India along with Apostle Thomas (St. Thomas) in 52 A.D. This was even before the Christianity arrived to European ends. Apostle Thomas converted some local Cochin Jews and Hindus into Christians, and in this way, these people were Christian even before the Europeans and Americans. Strangely in-spite of mass conversions there were no conflicts reported. Actual conflict begun when English brought missionaries and forced conversions. 
In the same lines, we can figure out the arrival of Islam in India along with Turkish and Afghani invaders. In-spite of huge demolition and loot by these invaders, there were no religious riots. Even later in rule of Muslim dynasties, there was no conflict reported on communal lines. Other religions such as Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and Hinduism were born in India , hence were always a part of this land, and there was no conflict in them. 

Till 19th century, the Indian way of life was free from religious fanaticism and rioting, but this changed with the role of colonial ambitions of Britain in India. To sustain itself in India, Britain pursued the policy of divide and rule. This was not strange, as the same was applied in Europe for nation forming. Countries like Italy, Germany, Austria , Balkan nations were created out of lingual and racial similarities. Their nationalism was a function of their language, races and culture, and the idea of pluralism in one country was absurd to them. Hence British failed to see India as a plural and diverse nation, rather their scholars thought of India as a collection of many countries. In this way, the European idea of national identity migrated to India. First it was used for colonial gains and later for self political interests. The result was the creation of Pakistan, the only country in the world made in the name of religion, by two nation theory. But the theory failed itself when in 1971, Bangladesh separated form Pakistan. This proved that the idea of separate nation for separate communities is absurd and can’t be the reason for nationalism, otherwise Bangladesh would have never been created.

But the damage has been done till then. Religious sentiments had already crossed the political borders, and found many takers. As a result, independent India saw many riots, be it Hindu-Muslim riots or Hindu-Sikh riots. Religion found itself as a political power when politicians saw it as a vote bank. And till this date, we are being scared in the name of communal powers and are being asked to vote for secular powers.

Interesting thing is, in-spite of all this politicization of religious groups, India remains firm. Why? Credit goes to constitution makers who made a check on out and out practice of communal card. But a larger credit goes to Indian way of living. Why there were no communal rioting reported in ancient times? Because, unlike Europe, religion was not governing function of Indian state. No one cared which religion you followed because no one forced any one to pursue his beliefs. Kings didn’t care if their people were Hindus or Muslims or anything else. They were almost equally oppressive to all of them, and were equally welfaristic. There were Tipu Sultans loved by Hindus and Jai Singhs, loved by Muslims. Religion was believed to be a part of personal belief and not a tool to seize political power. Some of these practices are continued till this date too. India has always been socially secular though it had rough patches in state secularism in recent political history. But the most important is the fact is that an average Indian is so much adapted to pluralism socially , economically and culturally that it might take another thousand year for communal politics to demolish social secularism. This is why India stands firm in-spite of all these unfavorable conditions. To conclude the best would be to quote the famous lines –

Yunan-o-Misr-o-Roma Sab Mit Gaye Jahan Se
Ab Tak Magar Hai Baki Naam-o-Nishan Hamara
Kuchh Baat Hai Ke Hasti Mit’ti Nahin Hamari
Sadiyon Raha Hai Dushman Daur-e-Zaman Hamara.
– Allama Iqbal

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