Social media are playing an important new role in Indian democracy. A social media campaign by the Electoral Commission drew record levels of voter registration and turnout in elections held in four Indian states, including the capital, New Delhi, in November and December.
Of 790 million eligible Indian voters, about 160 million are first-time voters between the ages of 18 and 24 years old. Political parties are also embracing social media to reach voters, including cellphone messaging. Social media are credited with helping the new Common Man party and its candidate, Arvind Kejriwal, win a surprise victory in Delhi against the Congress and Bharatiya Janata parties.
But social media can also be subject to significant abuse. Some politicians have been accused of boosting their apparent popularity on social media with legions of followers who don’t exist and of using social media to smear their opponents. Worse, social media have been used to fan violence against religious and ethnic groups; the dissemination of a fraudulent video may have helped spark deadly clashes between Hindus and Muslims in the city of Muzaffarnagar in September.
Meanwhile, the Indian government has used the 2008 Information Technology (Amendment) Act to increase monitoring and censorship of social media. In 2012, two women were arrested after posting a comment on Facebook that angered politicians in Mumbai. Journalists have had their Twitter accounts disabled, and cartoonists whose works poke fun at officials have had their social media accounts closed.
Last year, the government rolled out a Central Monitoring System with vast powers to monitor citizens’ communications. Human Rights Watch called the new system “chilling” in its scope. According to Freedom House, India had the steepest decline in Internet freedom of any country in the year ending in April 2013.
The Electoral Commission of India has asked social media providers to monitor their sites for fraud in the run-up to the general elections in April this year. That would be helpful. But Indian voters must also demand that their government bring transparency and accountability to electronic surveillance.Continue reading the main story
Role of media in electoral politics in India
a study of General Elections 2014
Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät
The primary aim of the study is to understand manufacture of news through mediated buzzwords. Mediated buzzwords are coined by media houses and disseminated through newspapers or news channels. Here the focus in particular is to explore how mediated buzzwords are manufactured by newspapers before an election and how these buzzwords condition the influence of news on the electorate. Within this context, the larger goal is to explore media-politics-society interrelationship in one of the biggest democracies in the world and one of the most significant South Asian countries i.e. India. The study adopts a society centric approach that views media as a social institution and aims at analyzing its various features and effects in its relations with other social institutions namely politics and electorate. In that light, this study posits that media’s role vis-a-vis politics (state) and the electorate (society) lies in the extent to which it influences and impacts the latter. This study will explore media’s influence on General Election 2014 in India with the help of mediated buzzwords identified through primary and secondary sources, analyze the relationship between buzzwords and newspapers (represented by the media houses) disseminating them and explore the impact and influence of these mediated buzzwords on the electorate cutting across different social locations. This study has three primary foci – to identify mediated buzzwords and issues during General Elections of 2014 in India, to analyze how the mediated buzzwords were used by the media houses to manufacture news during General Elections of 2014 in India, and to assess the effects of these mediated buzzwords on the formation of political opinion of the electorate during General Elections of 2014 in India.