Netas are too busy to network

DNA talked to me about my blog post on Indian Politicians and Internet and wrote about it in their Tuesday edition (Nov 18, 2008) – Netas are too busy to network, I quote,

The online space needs to be explored by politicians. More and more are starting their own websites but it will take around five years to figure out the profile of the typical online viewer and to gauge how effective online campaigning can be. The only thing hitch here is that most Indian politicians aim at enticing the masses, many of who are either uneducated or not connected.

The Obama campaign was hugely successful because it was targeted at attracting first time voters. And it was found that most first-time voters there have access to the net. There will be around 10 crore first-time voters in India this election but we don’t know how many of them use the Internet. Most Indian politicians prefer to use the popularity of television to make their poll promises. But, I foresee a day when the online medium will be popular. My experience with politicians in Karnataka tells me that most of them do not have the time or inclination to keep their websites updated. Interacting with their aides isn’t very easy either because most of them have no idea about the online space. They ask questions like why does developing a site cost so much? Why they can’t have their own domain name? Websites need to be updated regularly and most politicians need to hire an exclusive PR to do their online and offline writing.
India is a more complex democracy than the US. Our politics is mostly cost-based while the issues that bother the American electorate are different.

Here’s what our politicians should do in the internet and mobile space:

  • Parties must clearly list their manifesto on their website in multiple languages.
  • Politicians must have simple and clear websites. If your an incumbent list your achievements from the current tenure, if you are trying to unseat the incumbent, list all that is wrong with the constituency and what you will do to fix them. Try to get as local as possible.
  • Use social networking sites to reach out to the young and educated voters like Obama.
  • Provide all the information to the company which is developing the portal and then do not to interfere in its development of the portal.


  1. Politicians have already started using mobiles. They send mass SMS to voters during elections. Soms CMs also send mass SMS greetings on the occations of independence day, Diwali etc.
    Regarding internet, it will take atleast 10 years for politicians to start using internet and emails actively. Only after some of the present generation reaches a level of importance in politics, then only he will think of using internet. Just as Obama is active emailer on his Blackberry, some of present hi tech generation will start this trend when he reaches an important level.
    But don’t mistook that they will reade your or mine comments and thoughts on these web pages. Politician has no time to read we people.

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