Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Six Reasons Why Indian Politicians Should Use Twitter

Twitter has become the buzz word in India after the controversy involving Minister of State for External Affairs Dr Shashi Tharoor. As of now only a very few politicians is using Twitter and there is only a handful of them who uses it regularly (MP from Kannur K Sudhakaran is another politician who tweets regularly). After the controversy involving Dr Tharoor broke out, lot of people started questioning the wisdom of politicians especially ministers and elected representatives using Twitter on a daily basis to communicate with the people. Use of Twitter by politicians has lot of plus points and here are six of them.

1 – Best Tool Available To Politician To Make News Viral

Assume a Member of Parliament (MP) visiting his constituency finding out that in a recent accident in a railway level crossing, a teenage girl lost both her legs and needs financial help for treatment. In the normal circumstance, the MP may be contacting the Chief Minister or the other ministers or the officials of the state government and give a petition regarding help for that girl. He may also conduct a press conference describing the plight of the girl and leave it to the mercy of the news editors to decide if that news needs to go the print.

Now what you can do with Twitter – Dr Shashi Tharoor on his visit to his constituency met with a girl who has lost both her legs and on the same day he tweeted –

Visited a girl who lost both legs to a train when crossing the track bcoz road to her home was underwater. One more tragedy of underdevpmnt”

“Will look for prosthetic help for the girl. In her final year of high school. Desperately poor. A couple of Jaipur Feet cld change her life

That 280 letters changed the life of that girl. The same day itself offers for help came from all over the world and last I heard that girl is undergoing treatment. Could such quick response possible without Twitter? What does that show? Doesn’t that show that politicians and elected representatives can use twitter to spread the word faster than any other media out there?

2 – Transparency

We the people always wanted transparency in the conduct of politicians and Twitter is the most effective tool for the politicians to create that transparency in their activities. By tweeting daily about what they have done to the people who elected them, the politicians are becoming more transparent with the people they represent. Now the people in turn can judge the work of the politicians and if the people find that their elected representative is not doing a good job they can raise this in a very big way in Twitter thus bringing it to the notice of the politician forcing him to mend his ways.

3-To Understand the Pulse of the People

If you are a politician and active in Twitter, read all the tweets addressed to you and you could understand the pulse of the people, issues they face and the solutions to the issues that need your help. For example if you go through the tweets Dr Tharoor receives he gets a lot of complains about the passport offices especially from certain areas. Within few days he could conclude which all passport offices are not working efficiently and can take steps to correct it. The same process may be taking months to find out if we go through the normal route.

4 -Spreading the World of the Good Work Done

The elected representative or the politician may have done lots of good work for the people they represent. But all those need not reach the people due to poor coverage by the media – both print and visual. In such circumstances the Twitter is the best friend for the politician. This is the best tool available for the politician to spread the word about the good work he has done without depending on any one. See the photo below. It is the photo of the first ever Indian Female Formed Police Unit in Liberia. None of the news media had this photo but was there in one of the tweets of Dr Tharoor. So Twitter is a powerful tool for the politicians to let the people know about the real hard work they are doing for the people.

5 – Letting People Know the Lighter Side of You

Politicians are public figures and people may like to know the personal tastes of the politician they have elected to represent them and there is no tool better than Twitter for a politician to do that. See this tweet from Dr Tharoor “Having lived abroad in places without Indian mangoes, have literally become "aam aadmi" this year, or at least "aam ka aadmi" - eat 6 a day!” Anyone who reads this and understand the correct meaning of it will easily feel that politician who tweets this is one among them. Thus Twitter is a great tool for politicians to show their lighter side to the people they represent.

6 – Record of Work Done by the Politician for the People

A politician who tweets regularly about what he did for the people can always direct the people to go back to his old tweets and see for themselves what he did for them in a particular issue. Thus tweets become a public record of the services of the politician to his people. For the people, his tweets will become a record of how effective he was in tackling the day to day issues faced by them.

Now the common complaint we hear is that the number of internet users are very less in India and hence concepts like Twitter doesn’t reach vast majority of people. But the use of internet is fast catching up and within a next decade the use of internet is expected to grow exponentially and politicians will be forced to connect with the people they represent using micro blogging sites like Twitter.

Hope That More and More Politicians Will Join Twitter and Make the Process of Governance More Transparent and Efficient.

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Blogger scorpiogenius said...

Now Brijesh, appreciate that work. You've put up the points as well as anyone could do!

I honestly dont wanna see every Tom,Dick n Harry on Twitter though. Imagine someone like Karunanidhi or our Commie Minister Sudhakaran or like-minded ones on this site!! Its easy for us not to follow them and thus keep away from rubbish but still I'd like to see only the quality politicians on it to maintain the face-value of Twitter. :)

just an opinion :)

September 22, 2009 10:07 AM  
Blogger The Layman said...

Nice post.
Shashi Tharoor would be a wonderful case study for all our twitter-wannabe politicians.

September 22, 2009 10:45 AM  
Blogger Praveen said...

nice work man..
Shashi tharoor's 'twittergate' has certainly brought twitter on the radar of the politicians...and we may see more of them joining in soon. But most of them will have their own 'twitter writers' just like they have 'speech writers'..

and the humour part...after this controversy, politicians will think twice before being humorous:P

September 22, 2009 8:46 PM  
Blogger Siva said...

Nice try to justify the use of twitter by the politicians. But i dont agree with you on using twitter more. I admire Shashi Tharoor and i want him to use his expertise and serve this country well as a Minister. It is very
important to survive in our ruthless political environment to start even think about serving. so as a well wisher, i dont want him to be involved in unnecessary controvercies that will affect his ability to deliver his job and
to an extend even cost his job.

The minister should understand that beleiving the argument in favour of using twitter, conducting online poll to
determine how many people want politicians to use twitter are all equivalant to living in denial. probably the party's unequivocal statements about this controversy and how hard it came down on him are the best indicators for him to
asses where the real political power lies.

I am sure, the minister did not mean anything derogatory in his cattle class remark. but there is no point in arguing over semantics. Even for me, who lived in US for last 10 years, it was difficult to understand what he exactly meant by his remarks. so blaming people in India for not understanding his remark correctly is futile.

I am not advocating to avoide the use of twitter completely. but it is not a prime source of communication either.The more time you spend on it, the more controversies there will be. Minimum use of this tool is better for politician, people and the Nation.

September 23, 2009 12:26 AM  
Blogger keralafarmer said...

Did you saw the impact of controversy against?
The followers of ShashiTharoor increased too much in 72 hours. One thing I felt the increasing followers all tweets to Tharoor can't follow. But RT of any important matter will give attention on it. Few 2nd line leaders of Congress itself worried on transparency of Tharoor can build vote bank through Twitter. I forwarded a letter to Tharoor as a blog post regarding monorail in Trivandrum (A proposal by Brig. C.G Varghees) to him through a tweet and I got the reply within one hour.
My tweet : @Shashitharoor
First Reply : @keralafarmer
Second one : @keralafarmer
The same matter is published on The New Indian Express.
This was related for common peoples transport problem to present to our Hon. MP of Trivandrum through a tweet by a common man.
Excuse for my poor English. How ever my standard of English catches better through blogs and tweets now a days.

September 23, 2009 12:48 AM  
Blogger Karthikeyan said...

With all due respect for Shashi Tharoor's intellect and his tech-savvy approach, i don't think this is some kinda panacea for all the ills that afflicts our politics. Much like how we would have all gone ga-ga over email when it first came into pic, this is just the latest fad and as they say, "This Too Shall Pass".

Sorry for pouring cold water...but i think what we should really focus on is Shashi Tharoor's performance than the mode of communication he uses.

September 23, 2009 3:20 AM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...


G sudhakaran in twitter...LOL

September 23, 2009 3:28 AM  

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