Web 2.0 to help politicos’ image building in polls, says Shashi Tharoor

Citing a classic example of Gujrat CM Narendra Modi, Minister of State for HRD Shashi Tharoor believes that social platforms such as the Twitter and Facebook could help political leaders in building their image amongst their electorate. While, he said, full-fledged Internet-based electoral reform is a distant reality.

Tharoor expressed at ‘Social Media in Politics and Governance’ at the India internet day organized by The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE) Delhi-NCR chapter. The minister who is also avid tweeter said that government perceives social platforms as a valuable medium of communications.

Tharoor said that social media is vital to take directions and directives for necessary actions and to access information, and feels that it poses certain challenges. He also reiterated that he doesn’t want any kind of censorship and said that government is concerned about its abuse such as the case of recent communal sadism in north-east India.

Web 2.0, he said, help in demystifying politicians. “US president Barack Obama uses Twitter extensively while the UK government leverages social media to issue guidelines. Google and Yahoo have today become household names,” Tharoor added.

Referring to the Finance Minister P Chidambaram and the Road, Transport and Highways Minister CP Joshi’s recent Google Hangouts, he said that government is moving in right direction. Tharoor is also planning a Google Hangout soon.

There are some interesting studies on social media, he said that suggest it could impact 160 constituencies. “Social networking sites are becoming image building tools. Narendra Modi is one such example,” he said. With 9-10 percent Internet penetration, Tharoor feels that winning an election entirely on social network campaign has a long way to go.

Tharoor also said that IT Act 2000 already gave legal impetus to digital signatures and it was former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s vision that helped in initiating projects such as the National e-Governance Plan and National Informatics Center in India.

New media can be used as new medium of communications and said that with social platforms, government and politics, is witnessing transformation in gradual and incremental manner.

 

“There are cases where people such as the celebrity Sharukh Khan, are withdrawing from social networks. We need to deal with Cyber bullying effectively so that integrity of social media can’t be suspected,” he stressed.

Tharoor has been actively engaged with people via Twitter and has close to two million followers. He believes that it’s a platform to get instant attention. Of late, Tharoor resolved plight of Kashmiri students’ who wanted Central government scholarship and sent tweet to him.

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