There was a time in India where politicians and government officials were largely inaccessible to the general public. They occupied a space several levels above the common man, and while they lectured from time to time, ordinary people had no way to challenge them or even question them routinely. This has all changed in the era of social media.
Today, individuals have access to a form of direct and interactive contact with people in positions of authority and this has created a strong sense of political empowerment. The population using the social media is majorly constituted of the young generation which criticises and questions ministers, and often get answers or rebuttals from them. They find like-minded others on social media forums and communities like PaGaLGuY and MouthShut and even get co-opted by political parties and movements based on the views they express on Twitter or Facebook.
Social media has given birth to a new form of politics in India. India’s increasing teledensity, especially in urban pockets, has spurred an impressive jump in the number of people online. If you have been cribbing that the younger generation is glued to social networking sites and has nothing to do with the society or politics, you are wrong.
According to a study of the UN-Habitat report, a whopping 71% of Indian youth were interested in politics in 2011. The percentage of such youth was only 45% in 2009. The study also says one in every 10 youth is “highly interested” in politics. It says the interest level of youth increases as their education and exposure to media goes up. The huge surge in interest of youth in politics within two years is significant, especially since the level of interest increased negligibly, from 43% to 45%, between 1996 and 2009.
Social media has engaged youth in participation in politics and social issues so much that even political leaders like BJP’s controversial leader Narendra Modi and Congress’s star politician Shashi Tharoor have started taking part in it to express their views and opinions to the youth masses. Shashi Tharoor in one of his tweets said, “There is more substantive debate on twitter than in the Indian Parliament. But even though the interest rate of the youth in politics is high, we see only a handful of young political leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Varun Gandhi, Sachin Pilot etc. who are there because of their influential political families.
It is difficult to find a young leader with no political family background. There can be two reasons for this deplorable scene of Indian politics. One may be that the youth today are not interested in actively participating in the political field. But this reason seems to hold no ground seeing the discontent shown by the youngsters towards cases like reservation, December 16 Delhi Gang Rape Case, Jessica Lal Murder Case, Anna Hazare Campaign etc on virtual as well as real grounds.
Second reason may be that young people are not given opportunities to prove themselves claiming that they are not equipped with experience to participate actively in the governance of the country. This reason seems to be more logical seeing the monopoly of old leaders in almost all the major political parties of the country.The youth of modern India are aware of the problems faced by our country. Given a chance they would be ready to change the political condition of the country for better, all in the presence of social media.