Yet another ‘cool’ tech-move for better governance, before local body elections. But isn’t it a compromise to national security? Or better said, a great concern for information confidentiality? Is NSC snooping?
India is gradually building a strategic tech-administration. Simplicity in leveraging technology without complex project is a possibility. This has been proved by Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party which has added all the ruling BJP’s 323 members of Parliament to a WhatsApp group today, where they will receive important information from the party. Though, I’m not quite sure how BJP was able to manage this since WhatsApp currently has a limit of 50 participants per group.
‘Bhajapa Samvad Setu’
Politics is facing a revolution in this modern era. There has recently been an uncompromising shift in the public relations approach, from talking-to-audience to talking-with-audience. And so, BJP has announced its intention to launch the Bhajapa Samvad Setu, a multimedia messaging service where people would be able to exchange text, audio-video and photos on the lines of WhatsApp before the scheduled local body elections.
This is a tactical attempt from BJP to engage the 150 million young people of the world’s greatest democracy into a political dialogue. With 50% of its population below the age of 30, India has a fifth of the world’s young people. It is safe to say that they are as obsessed with smartphones, sex and their job prospects as their peers everywhere else.
My phone is my temple
In April 2014, WhatsApp had claimed over 500 million active users in India; the company’s largest market. The app has been emerging progressively, and these days it’s just as common to hear someone say, “WhatsApp it to me”, as it previously used to be like “Facebook me” or “Mail it”.
Alongside, mobile internet in India is spreading. Recent statistics show that about a quarter of internet traffic in the country is now from mobile phones. The most downloaded mobile apps by Indians are WhatsApp and Facebook, according to StatCounter. While these are foreign apps, sooner or later more India-specific apps may emerge. But would India adopt Bhajapa Samvad Setu?
Would users adopt it?
To cover the Indian elections, BBC News had also utilised WhatsApp, but then faced a huge setback; the idea is not scalable WhatsApp does not provide any APIs. This means, after sending the preliminary ‘join’ request to get a response, you might have to wait for long. I wonder how the account holder will tackle 1000 people’s request in time frame of ten minutes.
Keeping in mind this hindrance, BJP must be setting up its own in-house multimedia messaging service. When all’s said and done, though this could work all right for internal use between BJP members and volunteers, why would regular users actually use this service over other players like WhatsApp, WeChat, Hike and LINE?
Only time will tell if Bhajapa Samvad Setu initiative proves worthwhile. But, hang on, wouldn’t BJP now blame Whatsapp for any ‘strategic’ leaks and gaffes?
– KRISHNA ATHAL