“The Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India has been working on the policy on the ‘Framework and Guidelines for Use of Social Media for Government Organisations’ which is yet to be rolled out.
Some of the recent events in India are an eye opener and perhaps ear too for various government agencies in India.
In November 2012, Sam Pitroda, technology advisor to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, held a “global Twitter press conference” on his account (@pitrodasam). It was hyped as the first of its kind, the press conference was a big disappointment as the supposedly global conference amounted to 20 tweets and received scant coverage in India’s news as well.
In December 2012, when thousands of young people gathered in New Delhi and over 100 plus cities in India to protest against Delhi gang rape using social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc. to communicate their sentiments to the citizens of India and other parts of the world, Indian government was inactive on that front. This shocking event has highlighted the failure of Indian government’s social media strategy.
In January 2013, when Pakistan violated the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir, The I&B ministry of India, significantly increased its presence on social media compared to earlier. It also deputed a team of officials to track social media on critical issues related to this event, it was closely observed and a daily report submitted to I&B minister of India, Mr. Manish Tewari.
The entire communication paradigm has changed dramatically over the last five years, there is need to consider citizen communication platforms considered agnostic.
A few years before, Indian government did not encourage its employees and departments to be actively present on Social Media as it feared that the confidential information will leak to soon and too easily. It has now realized the endless possibilities and the power of Social media on the engagement and penetration front with large masses instantly particularly the youth of India.
The Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry of Government of India is in the process of formulating a communication strategy based on a more apt and skilful use of the social media to reach out to an increasingly impatient, upwardly mobile and youthful urban middle class.
In addition, the ruling Congress party in India too has discussed and set the ground for a social media policy of the government at its party’s brainstorming session which was held in Jan’13 at Jaipur. It is expected to be formulated by the information and broadcasting ministry subsequently.
The main opposition party, the BJP has already adopted social media namely Twitter & Facebook and is considered to be more technology adopting party. In recent elections in Gujarat, the chief minister of the BJP part, Mr. Narendra Modi Modi interacted with netizens on Google+ on 31 August 2012.The chat session was also live broadcast on YouTube and Modi took part in it through Ahmedabad. The chat was schedule to start at 20:00 IST but began 45 minutes late because of the reported crash of Google+ due to the response. The questions were to be submitted before the chat, and were mostly based on issues about education, youth empowerment, rural development and causes of urbanisation.
Postal department of India has officially joined to twitter. This is a great move because India post (@PostOfficeIndia) becomes first Indian department to be on twitter.
More departments from Government of India should use and embrace social media platforms such as Facebook, Orkut, Twitter, etc. as it will not only give an enhanced outreach, but also can connect policy makers to the citizens in real time. It will also help the government in managing the perception of the users, who sometimes propagate unverified facts and rumours with respect to government policies.
The government needs to embrace this new medium to ensure that the government’s message can reach the citizens without any “editorial dilution” as sometimes news as presented by media is “coloured”
These platforms will help the government to counter such perceptions there-by helping citizens making informed opinions.” – Praveen Mahendra, Maharashtra, India