With over 28 million followers on Facebook and 12.5 million followers on Twitter, Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a social media icon. With these two revolutions of internet, Modiji has always been a persistent voice of openness, transparency, dialogue and public scrutiny. Ever since, he had his official profiles on the two social networks, PM Modi has shared every detail surrounding his days- 24X7. This phenomenon is a little unusual one, since a dark limbo which surrounds VIPs in India, keeps the common man guessing about the gestures. For the first time, we have someone so important sharing every detail as if, personal is now public. This implication demands a serious examination. Since, it is not an issue of a celebrity selling their endorsement, but much more serious and meaningful.
Narendra Modi commenced his election campaign in 2014, with ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ agenda. How to do it in the first place? He knew it very well that democracy demands dialogue and then, deliverance. The dialogue component was delivered through ‘chai pe baat’ (conversation on tea), live video conferences, public meetings, interviews, etc. One thing which was used optimally for the first time was internet and social media space. The earlier events such as Arab Spring and campaigns for change under Barack Obama (in 2008-09) had shown the strength of it. Narendra Modi used every detail of his campaign and afterward policies to share it with people. Even after riding the majority victory waves, this effort was more consolidated with all key ministers joining in with their profiles on social networks. The implication of this idea of dialogue is a serious issue of ideology.
What is the ideology of Narendra Modi?
People have different perceptions about it, with varying claims. Some may like his dynamism, some may call upon his action-orientation, and some may criticize him too. But one thing which is quite clear is his openness to ideas and conversing with them to find the most appropriate approach to a problem. This openness calls for dialogue, taking dictates, scrutiny, criticism on face, and harsh analytics. But, a leader who bears all this in an open space will deliver goods for he has listened to the realities. This ideology of transparency and responsible answering was reflected through optimum use of technology. The opening of ‘mygov.in’ within months of taking in office was a call for public participation in governance. His continuous persistence over the use of information technology to overhaul and transform rural India is well known.
The one key field of development has of course been foreign affairs in the first year of Modi’s government. Here also, the continuous flow of posts and picture with other nation heads and people has been a highlight. Hon PM also escalated something called ‘selfie diplomacy’ where he earned a personal rapport with other nation heads, building on friendships. One landmark announcement also came in the course. After the matter was cemented bilaterally, PM Modi used his twitter handle to invite American President Barack Obama to be the special guest on Republic Day. This was another show of an openness of decision making, where nothing lies above public scrutiny in a democracy.
For the first time, perhaps, in the history of contemporary India, a government completing one year in office was seen as so important. The social media was busiest discussing the hits and misses of the Modi government, with the issue continuously trending. It is because here we have a government which itself is open to being in a democratic devise. The basis of discussion is a two way confluence of idea exchange. Hon. PM himself wrote an ‘Open Letter’ to fellow citizens which he shared on social media on completing the first year. He emphasized his promise of ‘Seva Parmo Dharma’. He went on to recount the achievements of the government, and the path ahead. He summarily objectifies the goal of transforming quality of life, infrastructure and services.
The idea of being vocal about one’s actions and thoughts in the public realm is democracy as a way of life. The importance being given to the idea exchanges on social media reflects a promise of openness and transparency which are essential traits of good governance.
By Shaan Kashyap
(The author is a student of History at Banaras Hindu University)
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