Sunday, 14 August 2011
Twitter And Facebook India's New Democratic Institutions?
With the London riots has the Indian Government appreciated that the new social media under the furiously texting thumbs of the barely literate is a frightening adversary? Will this new social media be relegated as just another form of limp political expressionism in India’s democracy or actually be a threat to the democracy?
With the historical cases of cabinet corruption there has been much discussion in the Indian media over the so called failure of India’s democratic institutions. The twitter sphere was set ablaze by youth thoroughly repulsed by Raja and Kalmadi’s ill gains and often tweets pleaded for Government to be more democratic. But democracy has not failed in India, India has failed in democracy. For 60 years it has embraced the philosophy far too enthusiastically and is drowning in the blessed thing.
Indian democracy has seen the birth of hundreds of institutions in a plurality that would have left Plato gob smacked. The Indian democracy complex now has the look and feel of a post war computer that was the size of a three bedroom house and took an afternoon to balance your cheque book.
If you have enjoyed the company of Delhi’s pseudo intelligentsia you will have a clear understanding of this diatribe. You will have ridden the acronym mail, Delhi’s hopelessly complicated mocktail circuit.
You will attend a seminar at the I.I.C. about the misdeeds of the I.M.F. then nip other the road, past U.N.I.C.E.F., to the I.H.C. to a discussion on the C.A.G. You will then feel robbed because you didn’t have time to go the H.T. at the I.T.O. to give your article on the C.W.C.
This is a marked point of difference to North Africa that was set ablaze by activists exploding on social media after been violently constrained for years.
To voice your democratic right in India is possibly far too easy, with far too many avenues. The instinctive reaction of any political crisis is to form yet another committee or dusty red bricked institution.
Many of the academics who attend these never ending talk shops are brilliant scholars. When I watch a NDTV panel discussion I am always impressed at how far more in depth, as compared to an Australian TV panel, the debate proceeds. There is no scarcity of brilliantly eloquent, if not slightly bewildered, intellectuals.
But this beehive of higher thought is in conjunction with the Brahmanic curse where the intellectuals that fleet between these multiple forums largely do not connect thought with action. Carrying embryonic ideas to full term and implementing the thousands of schemes that have been excitedly consummated by the heat of the overhead projector is not their bag.
Ironically this involved, very academic, relationship with democracy has instilled a paralysis. A matrix of pressure valves that emasculates any head of steam.
As the Arab world and the UK have experienced, Blackberry messenger and Twitter does not only vent rage it focuses that intense rage into a social changing blinding light. The perfect opposite effect of India’s democratic institutions.
Treasonous tweets and Facebook status updates are not diluted by coma inducing committees and Parliaments. They are not censored by the very well hidden ethics of contemporary media editors. These short explosive slogans are out in the world in a Mumbai second. Unformed and mutinous.
‘Flash Mobs’ is the phrase of the month. Where a crowd of hundreds or indeed thousands of disaffected mobile phone users assemble ready for what is almost exclusively anti social behavior. This is of interest to law enforcement agencies but it also should be of utmost interest to India’s political elite.
For what institutions did the youth of London attack? Westminster and St Pauls? No. They attacked Footlocker and Debenhams. They didn’t attack the radio stations and broadcast a political agenda they smashed high street shop windows and looted sandshoes.
This was is the new paradigm. We are not citizens we are consumers. One in three under 18 years olds in the UK are officially in poverty. They are too young to vote but not too young to be disenfranchised consumers. Young people that have been programmed into believing they are hopelessly inadequate without the latest accessory.
Capitalist society has created such a overwhelmingly powerful illusion that consumers are ready to go to even murderous lengths to keep up with the Sharmas. This is where India has to pay focused attention.
The mobile is the 21st centuries Kalashnikov. A weapon that can help form a flash mob in minutes. In the Indian context a flash mob could mean hundreds of thousands of rioters not the few hundred that have England in a tail spin.
For six months ago Hindi was rarely seen on Twitter. Now it is increasingly more common. It is an obvious sign that an all powerful media is no longer in the hands of gymkhana groupies and in the hands of a far more representative cross section of the society.
And the more India experiences economic progress the deeper mobiles will penetrate down the rungs of the social economic ladder. These Kalashnikovs will increasingly be in the hands of people who have been largely excluded from the economic miracle.
This mobile owning underclass will not give two samosas about the latest acronym institution or this weeks drafting committee. They will demand a Mercedes and a Macbook within a broadband instant with a murderous passion that will not have the faintest whiff of democracy.