Role of Social Media in Indian Politics

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"I dream of Digital India where the government proactively engages with people through social media."

                                                                       - Narendra Modi

 

India has overtaken China in population and now India is the most populous county with the second-highest social media users in the world. Social media has become a vital part of everyone’s daily life to get information hence in a hectic life, newspapers are gradually being replaced by social media as it is easily accessible with mobility.

         Doubtlessly, social media is not limited to entertainment only but politics has also got a place in it, Considering the huge transformation, the government came up with “Digital India” with the vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and can be assumed the importance of digitalization with various schemes like PM free smartphones.

 

      After the advent of social media with the rise of teenage social media users, political parties are virtually associated with fresh voters (18-19 years old). As elections draw near, political parties use different social media platforms for campaigns which are helpful to woo voters with rhetoric and election ads as social media allow space for politicians to know their viewpoints and manipulate the users accordingly.

Going back to Covid 19, people were compelled to be quarantined without physical interaction, in such a situation social media was the only means to stay connected with outsiders, and thereby after continuous efforts made by the government social media was effectively able to promote precautionary and vaccination awareness.  

 

           Unfortunately, social media has become a bone of contention in Indian politics. Of late, deepening political polarization can be seen as a result of hate speech and fake news on Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp, giving place to religious and social tension.

In the race of election, one political party never misses an opportunity to disparage his opponents via online content like memes, or cartoons.  

However, “we believe in what we see”, and tones of content are available in the loop hence making us believe without getting acquainted with the right information and facts, therefore, leads us away from the truth and get trapped in the maze of lies and hatred resulting to destabilization in society in a form of violence.

Cases like Bengaluru’s DJ Hali, 2020, and Delhi Riots 2019, have painted a scary picture of social media and still haunt and remind us of the dark side of social media in contemporary Indian politics.

 

      Although social media is merely a tool used to fulfill an individual interest. sadly, misuse of it, leads to violence and polarization in society, without overlooking the dark side of it and the pressing issue, there must be a need to take vigorous steps with its implementation at the grassroots level without biases to undermine as well as eradicate the hoaxes spreading on Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

Despite the existence of laws, there are repeatedly inflammatory contents circulated by political party workers as it shows the absence or lack of strict and stern action against individuals who are wholly responsible for spreading canards.

It has a highly negative impact on youth and they are also responsible for carrying out the violence after being swayed by it. Hence there must be a need to create awareness among citizens and also need to stay away from online inflammatory content. Additionally, an independent body must be there to deal with such problems and also need to take immediate action against such activity so that society can get rid of the hatred and eradicate the feeling of enmity instead of brotherhood. Social media is merely a tool, depending on an individual and how he gives shape.

-Vinita Murmu

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