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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mobile Apps to Mobilize India's Youth to Vote in 2014

Make Your Opinion Count by Casting Your Vote
Image courtesy: The Animator

2014 is the time when we get to make a difference to our country once again. When reading about the topic, “How would you inspire and mobilize India's youth to vote in the Indian General Elections 2014 using social mobile apps?” I remembered an incident which took place a few years ago in Byndoor.  It was election time and campaigning was going wild from all different parties contesting.
The Congress, BJP and Janata Dal were strong contenders from our ward. The poor people were lured by different promises to cast their vote for the candidates, who, the campaigners claimed would change the village completely. The voters seemed to be on a see-saw. They were jumping from one party to another within few hours, as the campaigners confused them with all big promises.  In all the confusion, a domestic help who came around to help my Mother-in-law announced that she is going to vote for only for Bangarappa. In all the confusion, she was very sure about her decision. I couldn’t resist but ask her, what made her resolution so strong. She told me that if Bangarappa would win, he had promised that he will come and have coffee in her house. It was kind of amusing and sad moment for me.  Was election and voting meant to mislead innocent people like her? I asked her how would anyone benefit if at all the promise was kept. She would only end up spending money on coffee and treats for the person who won the election. She just smiled and walked away.  I was aghast to know how innocent people were lured to vote for people for all the wrong reasons. No wonder we end up blaming the politicians later for downfall of our country.
Today, I don’t have to pull out my hair in desperation when people talk about who they want to vote. Off course the innocent people are misled by false or unwanted promises, but the majority of voters seem to be aware who or what they are choosing. Come the elections of 2014, Indian youngsters are going to play a big role in deciding the fate of our politicians. India is a young country, not in terms of her own age, but regarding the average age of her citizens.  Today, it is estimated that every third Indian city dweller is a youth. In less than a decade, the median age of Indian citizen will be 29 years, thus making India the youngest country in the world. The population explosion has finally given some positive result. Unfortunately again, this is not going to be a permanent phenomena, as this incredible change is going to face a decline after few years starting somewhere near 2025.
This is the ripe time for the youth to make their opinion count and elect the leaders they find suitable to take our country ahead. If the educated and well informed youth exert their right to vote, they have the power to revolutionize our country in the coming elections. Instead of complaining about the present situation, we see the youth are at present showing more interest in politics and policies of governments. In demanding social change or safety of the citizens, both the young women and men have joined hands to shake those sitting on high pedestals. The power of social media and youth was obvious during the protests they held regarding justice for Nirbhaya- the unfortunate rape victim. The youth of India demands the government improve the conditions in the field of education, safety, job opportunities, health and empowerment of downtrodden. The old drama of Surnames and caste based manipulation of certain politicians may not get them the vote from the educated youngsters of India anymore.
Some of the youngsters do not take the right to vote seriously.  Recent research showed that nearly 50% of youth in the capital of India, New Delhi, in the age group of 18-19 haven’t registered to vote. The first time voters compromise nearly 10-14% of the voters in 2014. By showing negligence to elections we will be bringing down our future and that of our country in a bad way. The youngsters of India need to realize that this is the best chance they have to make a positive difference, and they should not blow this opportunity at any cost.
They may need a bit of prodding, inspiration to get mobilized to cast their vote in the Indian General Elections coming up in 2014. There is no better way to reach Indian Youth (for that matter, men, women, children or babies) than through their mobile apps. I feel it is not just the youth who needs reminders to exercise their right to vote, but every eligible citizen should realize their responsibility in electing the right people to handle the affairs of the country.
How can we do it the best? SMS is a dinosaur in the world of technology today. A few months ago I had done a review of WeChat on my blog when I realized how useful the modern communication tool is. The invasion of smart phones in the market has contributed a lot to the popularity of the messaging apps. India has seen an increase of 89% mobile users in the past one year. The dropping price of the smartphones has brought it within the range of teens and youth. India is the third fastest growing market for smartphones today. The present era belongs to messaging apps that are taking over messaging and short communications, especially among the younger generation.   They are compatible on iPhone, Windows, Symbian, Blackberry and Android platforms; moreover they are supported on Wi-Fi, 2G, 3G, and 4G data networks.  They have all the required amazing features like
·         Live chat with friends and family
·         Group Chat QR Code
·         Chat History Backup
·         Video Call
·         Moments
·         Voice Chat
·         Web Chat
·         Attractive Emoticons
·         Group Chat
·         Shake to connect with people shaking their phones
·         Look Around
·         Drift Bottle
These can be utilized well to spread word about the importance of voting. Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Every vote counts. The awareness can be created through various videos, slides, captivating short text messages and pictures showing importance of voting. If you have a valid reason to support a candidate or party, you can launch your own campaign through group chats and other features. Groups of youth can discuss the pros and cons of a voting for a certain candidate to reach a decision. Information regarding the polling date, venue and other important details can be shared through text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, broadcast (one-to-many) messaging, photo/video sharing and other features.  This is how you can inspire and mobilize India's youth to vote in the Indian General Elections 2014 using social mobile apps.
New apps are being launched to provide voter information regarding the details of the Elector and Polling Station. There are also various apps that help the Indian citizens find out whether they have been enrolled in the voters list or not.  “Vote for Better India” is another Smartphone app developed to help unregistered Indian citizens, specifically the youngsters who are going to vote for the first time to enroll their names in the electoral rolls.

In 2012, the Barack Obama campaigners made good use of social media, colleges and other active youth forums to gather the support of young voters who persuaded citizens to cast their vote. It is said that Obama spent nerly $47 million on his digital campaign which paid off.
AAP has shown the power of Internet in motivating voters through their various online campaigns. Their victory proves the power social media is going to exert in coming elections.
The touch of technology is going to make a huge difference in 2014 for the political aspirants. Social media is the strongest tool to make an impact or mobilize masses over any current issue. Make a change by casting your vote.
This post is an entry under the topic "Indian GeneralElections 2014 with social mobile apps" on Indiblogger by WeChat.



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