Home » Subject » Essay » Is the youth of India swayed by the use of social media in politics.

Is the youth of India swayed by the use of social media in politics.

With proliferation of social media into the masses there has been quite a tectonic change in the mindset of the society as a whole and this change is visible in the way our general elections have been conducted in recent times. Politicians today realize that they need to harness the power of youth and social media. In modern times, social media has played a mammoth role as a communication channel between the politicians and the public and has helped in connecting the two. Just about a decade ago, the newer technologies neither attracted the audience nor the officials, who were busy in giving traditional interviews to age old media outlet. India�s large population and increasing teledensity especially in urban pockets has spurred impressive jump of people online and that has resulted in political parties beginning to harness the power of social media, taking a leaf out of Barack Obama�s online Presidential electioneering book.
I believe social technologies are now fast moving out of the research labs into real life monitoring of people�s reaction to politics, policy and rapid responses to crisis situations. In the recent years we have seen how social networking has been at centre stage of dramatic rise of Narendra Modi from an ordinary citizen to the Chief Minister of Gujarat and finally becoming the Prime Minister of largest democracy of the world. Back in 2012 when his Government came to power in Gujarat, he became the first CM to interact with the audience through an online medium. His movement gained high popularity so much so that #Modihangout became a trending topic and similarly his #misssion_272 stormed the virtual and political world. He realized that the rules of the games have changed and walking shoulder to shoulder with the youth of the color emerged as a game changer for his political career.

Further it has not been long when Anna Hazare started the Lok Pall Bill movement and it didn�t take time for fire of unity to spread among Indians through the most widespread mean the �virtual media�. Volunteers, social workers, activists, students and even artists came together in a fight against corruption. Twitter and facebook in particular proved to be one of the liveliest communications platforms for mobilizing youth and shifting them around. Desire to form a corruption free government led to the emergence of a hero in the form of Arvind Kejriwal who formed a fairy tale majority administration in Delhi with their backbone being youth. Public media has the power to mould the plastic minds of the youth. This was again demonstrated by the Delhi Nirbhaya case which gained humongous popularity principally through social media. Immense advertisements, cartoons, jokes, debates, articles as well as blogs which are being viewed day in and day out by the people of all the ages have led to a whole new governance. Due to this, officials who were once sceptical about the use of social media are embracing it now with much more comfort.
The rapid growth of social media in recent years means people are exposed to an abundance of information. Every day we are witnessing various political groups online, circulating a blog post about political issue or forwarding political videos to friends thus making each other more politically aware. It is also affirmed that if our friends share an article, they are more likely to be read and get interested in the topic, giving evidence of peer effects in socialization. Dominance of social media as the preferred mode of acquisition of political information by young people is indisputable and their political knowledge is positively influenced by it. Time and again it has been proved that parliamentary knowledge and political interest of the youth is interlinked and this is the reason why in recent times we are seeing substantial number of young people across racial and ethnic divide engaging in �participatory politics�. Rise of several younger politicians are perfect examples to prove the above stated point. As leaders they have interacted and connected with the youth and have emerged as major forces in the world of Indian politics, mainly predominated by elderly age group.
In an era when public�s time and attention is increasingly directed towards social media platforms it is important to realize how young people especially youth of the color are using new media to amplify their voices in the political realm that need not be only elections or governance but also various other matters that may affect a larger society. This new trend has turned feeble voices into a roar and has caused individuals to act, taking our country by a storm.

Atishay Jain