Political Communication in India

Political Communication can be referred to as a sub-field of political science and communication. It studies the relationship between politics and citizens and the communication modes which help them connect. Political communication consists of three main elements. These are the political party, the voter and the medium of communication.

To understand Political Communication, it is important to have knowledge about these elements. First, is a political party. It can be defined as a group of people who have similar political ideology and seek to influence people by getting elected to public offices. The aim of every communication is to convince the audience and in this case the audience can be termed as the voter. The last but most crucial is the mode of communication. The medium through which the message reaches the voter. This could include political rallies, speeches, coverage, hate speeches. They become the medium if they are communicated by TV and print. Recently, another medium is emerging and that is the digital medium. It can be termed as the ‘game changer’. Digital medium includes blogs, social media, websites, emails and viral marketing.

The political parties are now realizing the importance of digital medium to connect to the people of the country, especially the youth. They not only have to be active on ground but also on digital platforms.

To be specific social media is being regarded as an essential tool for political communication. It is helping in gathering public opinion and making people participate in political and civic processes. This has been done by uploading videos on YouTube, posting messages on twitter handles and online petition. The biggest example of twitter is that of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  This raises a question; can social media be used for effective political communication? Let us analyse instances in which social media played a big role in the presence of the political movement.

During the Gujrat state elections of 2012, then chief minister Narendra Modi used social media as a platform to connect to the youth. He was active on Facebook and Twitter. Modi also conducted a live chat on Google Plus. It was anchored by actor Ajeey Davgun. Through this, he became the first politician to conduct an event like this. The buzz created by him on social media attracted the youth to a large extent. Since they were more used to the digital culture. It also ended up getting the support of the middle class. Whose presence on social media was not as much as the youth but was substantial. Modi started an era of a new kind of political campaign.

Indian social activist Anna Hazare made extensive use of social media during his agitation on Jan Lokpal Bill. This not only gave a boost to his anti corruption campaign but also made the issue relevant worldwide. Even though the movement lost its momentum due to various reasons it was successful in demonstrating one thing, that is the power of social media for political communication. According to a report, Anna Hazare and Jan Lokpal Bill were mentioned in most of the statuses in the year 2011.

The politics in New Delhi was somewhat similar. In 2008 Sheila Dikshit was seeking a fresh mandate from people after winning two successive elections. The election campaign was mostly restricted to traditional media. Television was the dominant player. Since internet penetration was low, use of social media was unheard of. During the time of 2009 general elections, Shashi Tharoor was the only political leader active om social media. This tells us how less the digital medium was in use at that time. As compared to this, in 2013 provincial elections a lot had changed. The congress was surrounded by corruption allegations. The newcomer Aam Admi Party(AAP), used social media as a weapon to target the congress. It was the congress which realized very late that the war had shifted from the ground to the internet. For which they definitely had to pay a huge price.

To conclude we can say that social media does play a crucial role now in shaping political communication. However, at the same time it does require the assistance of traditional media like TV and print. Since the internet has not penetrated to the whole country. Also, a lot of consumers still use the internet only for entertainment purposes and rely on TV and newspapers for political news.

 

Barca’s unhealthy French dinner

The Champions League is an annual football tournament organised by the Union of European Football Association. It is contested by many European football clubs. Such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Paris St- Germain(PSG).

Currently, the 63rd season of the champions league is going on and the qualifying round of 16 has began. This time we have seen Barcelona’s biggest debacle in the history of the Champions League. As it lost 4-0 to Paris St- Germain. This match was played on February 14 on the home ground of PSG.

Looking at the background of these two teams, both were tough competitors. On one hand Barcelona have lost just one of the last twenty-two matches played in all competitions. They have also reached the final of Copa Del Rey in which they will play against CD Alaves. PSG is also not far behind. They have won 11 out of the 14 matches played by them in all competitions, out of which two were draws. They will take on AS Monaco FC in the French League on April 1. Perhaps it was not Barcelona’s day as PSG crushed them 4-0.

This debacle was so severe that people have started talking about the possible end of one of the most influential European clubs of this century. PSG is definitely a very ambitious club however defeating Barcelona in such a manner was very shocking for both the players and viewers. The team has beaten Barcelona in the past but obviously not on such a huge scale. They completely wiped them out during the match.

If we come to the match, out of the four goals, two were from PSG’s Angel Di Maria. The first one came in the beginning 18 minutes itself. Putting Barcelona in danger right from the start of the match. The other two were from Julian Draxler and Edinson Cavani. Every time Barcelona tried to make a come back, PSG just found another gear. This horrible performance has also put the future of Barcelona’s manager, Enrique at risk. Who himself agrees that, that night they were ‘inferior’ to PSG. If we look at records, there has never been a season in which Barcelona has not managed to clear the last 16 of this championship. While they have other matches to cover up their performance. It is important to mention that in the Champions League no side has managed to overturn a 4-goal first leg defeat.

This match is significant for two reasons. Firstly, because Paris St- Germain will always be remembered as a team which defeated the world famous Barcelona with the scoreline reading 4-0, something which no other football team has managed so far in the history of European football championship. Secondly, the debacle of Barcelona which is considered to be one of the most dominant football clubs in the world of the 21st century. This match would also be memorable to Angel Di Maria for another reason as it was his birthday as well.

 

Misplaced patriotism: Voices of dissent invite violence

A two-day seminar was scheduled to take place in Ramjas college of Delhi University. However, it turned out to be one full of violent clashes and threats due to the interference of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). This is the students wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The seminar was called ‘Cultures of Protests’ and was organised by the literature department of Ramjas college. Some of the guests invited were Umar Khalid, Bimol Akojiam and Sanjay Kak. ABVP was against the invitation of Umar Khalid, who had to speak on Adivasi protests. Since he was doing a Ph.D. thesis on the topic. According to them he was involved in anti national sloganeering that took place in Jawaharlal Nehru University last year. They protested, vandalized college property and threatened the college students and professors. Even though the students of Ramjas themselves had no issue with the seminar taking place, the ABVP decided to take the whole issue in their hands.

This is not the first time ABVP has come under lime light for causing violence on campus and inconvenience to the students and teachers. In August 2015 the ABVP disrupted the screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai at Kirorimal college of Delhi University. According to them the film contained anti- religious elements. They also vandalised the history department of Delhi University. This was due to the inclusion of an essay titled ‘Three Hundred Ramayanas’ by AK Ramanujan in the recommended reading list of BA. English Honours students.

On 21st February The ABVP members not only blocked the entrance of the conference hall but also pelted stones on students who came to attend the seminar. On the same day the students of the college held a protest march from campus to Maurice Police Station. When they returned back they were greeted by ‘ABVP goons’. A term used by the students for the ABVP members. They were shouting slogans such as Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai. They also threw stones and tree branches at the people. They had no right to display such hooliganism in an educational institution. According to the students, the role of the police should have been more and they could have prevented the escalation of violence.

The students had just held a protest march to voice their right of freedom of speech and expression. In result they had to go through the brutal force unleashed on them by ABVP.  Not only students but also some journalists were injured. Somreet Bhattacharya from Times of India and Tarun Kumar from the Quint suffered injuries and had to be rushed to the hospital. Amongst people injured also included some teachers of Delhi University.

There is an air of fear lingering around the college premises. The shocking things is there is eye witness accounts of all these events. There are also videos of ABVP members beating up female students in front of a large crowd. Students living in pg and hostels are getting death threats.  These messages warn the students of consequences if they step outside their hostels. Even though we have so much of evidence, both the government and police have remained a mute spectator amongst all the violence.

While the police and government have taken a back seat, the students from various colleges are raising their voices. They are using social media to tell people what exactly happened in that day and the violence unleashed upon them. We need to take a stand and stop the ABVP on forcing their version of nationalism on the students.

How India gave the match in Australia’s hands

India losing its track resulted in Australia being one step ahead of India.

The first ever test match played on the grounds of Pune was from February 23- 25. This was part of a five series test match fought between India and Australia. The leading scorer from India’s side was KL Rahul, who scored 64 and 10 runs in both the innings of the match. India also showed an all round bowling performance. R. Ashwin took seven wickets and became the leading wicket taker for India. On the Australian side, it was M. Renshaw and Australian captain Steve Smith who recused the Australian team by scoring 68 and 109 runs individually. When we talk about the bowling prospectus of Australia, S.O.Keefe was the star bowler of the match, who took 12 wickets.

The major reason for India’s defeat was its batting collapse. India managed to restrict Australia on an average score of 260 runs in the first innings with their brilliant all round bowling performance. But in return showed a very poor batting performance, by scoring a mere 105 runs. The second innings was very crucial if we look from India’s perspective as they were nearly 150 runs behind Australia. In the second innings they needed to restrict Australia to a very low score, which they were not able to do because of their poor fielding performance. Dropping 4 catches of Steve Smith, ultimately led him to score 109 runs. This ultimately took Australia’s score to 285, giving them a lead of 400 plus runs. In return Indian team gave a poor response by scoring just 107 runs. Thereby loosing the match by 333 runs.

For the next match which is going to be played in Bangalore, the Indian team should be well prepared. Especially in their batting performance, which has been a big concern for them this time. Players like Karun Nair should be given a chance to play in top 11, looking at his performance in his previous match. There are still 4 matches to go, so India can still make a come back and win the series.

ISRO’s growth over the past five decades

The credit for India’s progress in space goes to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Headed by A.S Kiran Kumar, ISRO was formed in the year 1969. It was the result of the joint efforts of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and veteran scientist Vikram Sarabhai. ISRO was the offspring of the Indian National Committee for Space Research which was established in 1962. The space agency faced numerous problems in the beginning. These included mainly financial and technological constraints.

It started its journey with experimental satellites. Aryabhatta was the first Satellite launched by ISRO from Soviet Union in the year 1975. Other initial satellites included Apple, Bhaskara and Rohini. It performed satellite application experiments as well. Satellite Instructional Television Experiment was one of them. It was an experiment in education television which was conducted with the help of America. ISRO had a very modest beginning as far as its launch vehicles are concerned. It started off with vehicle such as ASLV and SLV- 3. However, success started pouring in after the introduction of indigenous Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle(PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle(GSLV). ISRO’s primary spaceport is Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. With the vision to ‘harness space technology for national development, ISRO has made India proud worldwide.

ISRO in its long history had its own share of issues and problems. Such as multiple failures of launching the cryogenic based rockets and the failure of PSLV and GSLV launches. However, it worked towards their solution and currently is one the leading space agencies of the world. From amongst its successful mission, it is important to mention the Mangalyaan and Chandrayaan missions.

India launched its first Mar’s Orbiter Mission(MOM) also known as Mangalyaan on September 2014. With this, it made a world record of becoming the first country to complete the maiden Mars mission and also the fourth to venture into the planet. Since then Mangalyaan has sent many images of the red planet. Second is Chandrayaan. As the name suggests it is the mission to the moon. This is India’s Lunar Exploration Program. Its first mission, Chandrayaan-1 was launched in October 2008 and was a huge success. It made the stunning discovery of the presence off water on Moon. Chandrayaan 2 is expected to launch in the present year carrying the GSLV Mk II rocket.

The latest achievement of ISRO has been the launch of 104 satellites in one mission. Out of which 96 belonged to the United States and one satellite each from Netherlands, Switzerland, Israel, Kazakhstan and UAE. No other country has hit a century till now. The last record was of Russia which launched 37 satellites in one go. Prime minister Narendra Modi also congratulated ISRO in his Man Ki Baat.

Ever since its inception ISRO has received numerous awards. It received the Gandhi Peace Prize for the year 2014 by President Pranab Mukherjee. In 2015 it won the Space pioneer award during the 34th annual space development conference held in Canada. ISRO won an award for outstanding organization in 2016 from National Institute for Quality and Reliability at Chennai.

The future of ISRO looks very bright. It has a number of missions piled up for the coming years. These include the much talked about mission to Venus, Mars Orbiter Mission II and mission to the sun, Aditya I.

 

 

 

Punekars come out to denounce violence against Women #IwillGoOut

 

The Pune chapter of the I Will Go Out campaign took place on January 21. Men and women gathered around Rani Lakshmibai Udyan, Camp area of Pune to raise their voices against sexual harassment of women and to fight for their rights to be seen and heard in public spaces. This was part of a national campaign which took place in other cities as well. These included New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Jaipur and Lucknow.

This movement was started by a group of students named night in my shining armor as a response to the Bangalore Mass molestation incident, which took place on New years’ eve. The protesters reached the location around 4:30pm to organize the entire march. A short briefing was given to all the volunteers. They were told to report to their fellow volunteers incase they face any instance of harassment during the march. They were also made aware that two doctors would be accompanying them and to approach them if any medical emergency arises. By 5pm everybody was ready to hit the road and assert their right of freedom. Before the march began the volunteers were interviewed by the media. Questions such as why is the march being organised? What are your demands? Were asked. Following this the march commenced.

The coordination team of the campaign was designated to look after different areas. According to the instruction given at the beginning of the campaign the team had to handle three things. The communication with the police would be handled by Shankar, Anandita and Sahil. The microphone needed for sloganeering would be looked after by Anandita and 8-10 volunteers would manage the crowd.

The people marched from Rani Laxmibai Udyan to MG Road and finally halted at the Dinshaw’s optical. The protesters and volunteers walked in rows of three, holding banners and screaming slogans. You could here them raising their voices and screaming slogans such as I ‘Will Go Out’, ‘Azzaadi Azzaadi’ and ‘a no always means a no’. The crowd was not only restricted to Indians and many foreigners took part in it too. The message was loud and clear to the bystanders, that women are demanding their right in public spaces. The march was led by two or three volunteers whose voices were heard by everyone through the microphone.

The last stop was the Dinshaw’s optical. People gathered hear to share their stories of sexual harassment. Songs were also sung to make this campaign even more emotional. At the end a petition was signed by all those present. Some of the demand were as follows. To ensure gender sensitization takes place in institutions, organisations, and court of law. Ensure inclusive and safe infrastructure that will make women’s access to public spaces easier. For instance, 24-hour public toilet and well lit streets.

The rally was attended by people belonging to all walks of life. We could see journalists, transgenders, social activists as well as students. According to well known freelance journalist, Jayshree Bakshi, “Women want their freedom in every space. Be it education, work space, in their marital life or even going for biking or trekking.” Social activist, Anand Pawar also attended the protest march. He said, “More men need to be a part of campaigns like these, not as protectors but as allies.”

Even though the the December 2012 gangrape case in New Delhi led to the passing of tougher laws in India, the Bengaluru incident shows that violence still persists despite these laws. Campaigns like these are important to raise awareness and give strength to the women to fight for their rights.

Community Radio for the Disabled in India

 

Community Radio is a service which serves geographic communities and communities of similar interests. The content broadcasted by them is popular and local in character but it often overlooked by commercial broadcasters. There are three types of radio broadcasters in India. They are public, private and community radio channels. The main factors which make community radio stand out amongst others are that it is owned and managed by the citizens of a particular geographical area. They are non-profit organisations and operate for the welfare of the people. It provides a medium to express emotions, raise awareness and tell stories and experiences to the people they serve.

One such example is radio Udaan, which is an online radio for people with disability. It gives the people with disability a chance to show the country how talented and hardworking they are. It is produced and webcasted by people with visually challenged disabilities. This radio station has crossed nearly 100 countries and has more than 20,000 listeners. They are just like any other radio channel but furthers the cause of disability in India. It has been three years since Radio Udaan has been functioning and working for the disability issue.

Radio Udaan has a total of 28 shows, out of which 4 are dedicated to disability. This helps raise awareness on the topic of disability in India. This radio channel was started in February 2013 and since then it has held three national conventions. Most of the Radio Jockeys of radio Udaan have government jobs. They contribute to the radio station after working hours. In fact, since it is a voluntary organisation the employees are not even paid. They dedicate 3 to 4 thousand rupees from their salary to keep the radio running.

The owner of Radio Udaan, Danish Mahajan, spoke about the Right of person with disability act 2016. He said that the saddest thing was that the media spoke about every other bill, including maternity bill, black money bill but did not cover the disability bill. The only journalist which conducted a Debate regarding this was Rajdeep Sardesai. However, this topic was taken up in detail on the shows of Radio Udaan.

Radio Udaan hold panel discussions to help the blind people prepare for competitive examinations. They have shows such as ‘Lets play 20-20’ and ‘Ms. Confusion’. Twenty-twenty is like a game show where a question is given with multiple answers. The contestants need to reply by Skype or WhatsApp. It is based on general knowledge. In Ms. Confusion, questions on logical reasoning are asked. The show also teaches the students on skype. They also conduct discussions and debates. Debates are done on social issues and discussions on disability issues. For disability discussions they invite certain organisations and their representatives. Through these programs, discussions and debates they give a helped hand to the disabled.

The community radio also launched a campaign called Udaan campaign. Under this the radio jockeys in their area would hire a cab and travel 15-20 km in rural areas. Their representatives will go door to door and distribute pamphlets. They will talk to people and sensitise them about the of disability in India.

Ever since the radio was launched it has achieved a number of milestones. It has held workshops which focus on better socialization of the disabled. The radio station has held national conventions in New Delhi and Ludhiana. It has imparted online training on Information Communication Technologies to the visually impaired people. Radio Udaan began live coverage of events pertaining to the visually challenged.

Some of the objectives of Radio Udaan are as follows. To raise awareness about the topic of disability in India and work towards an inclusive society comprising of disabled and non disabled individuals. To be the watch dog of the disabled and human rights organisations. They also intent to reach out to the government and propagate the necessity of inclusive education.

One of the main challenges facing radio Udaan today is that of funds for proper equipment’s and editing software’s. The reason behind this is the financial crunch faced by them. Even though its monthly expenditure ranges from fifty to seventy thousand, since its inception Radio Udaan has just received 2 lakh rupees. There are very few organisations that have supported it monetarily. One being The National Association for the blind.

Just like Radio Udaan focuses on the issue of disability in India there are many other community radio channels who have taken up various initiative. For instance, Radio Sangam which is village level women’s collective. It furthers the cause of women in different areas. Such as biodiversity, culture, ownerships and food sovereignty. There is also the Anna radio which is run by the Anna Malai university in Chennai. It is the first campus community radio to start broadcasting in India. Therefore, community radio takes up social causes, whether it disability or women.