After looking at india272.com it has just opened up my mind to the possibilities of to have connected society to bring change which can be quite transformative.
It’s just amazing to think about the possibilities this idea is carrying in its womb.
It has possibility of bringing millions of user on the political arena. It has potential to transform Indian society from being recipient of Govt’s efforts to participants in Govt formation and day to day governance. It can also make BJP truly democratic party.
That itself can create immense opportunity for everyone. But let’s talk of what it can do for 2014 election alone.
Statistics & Technology: Finding the ground
1. BJP already knows what seats they lost by thin margins in last 2 elections.
2. BJP already knows where their support base lies
3. BJP also knows where their potential seats lie
Take data from site like IndiaVotes.com or ECI and rate each constituency on the scale of 1 (sure win) – 5 (no hope). Where BJP needs to focus is on seats between 2-4. Maximum effort should go in 3 to ensure margin seats are won and then on 4 to try to capture seats which can theoretically be won. Then on 2s to make sure no blunders are made.
How technology can help? Help find seats and booths where they should focus on and in what capacity they should invest in.
- Rate each assembly segments and then each booth of these constituency also in the same way. This gives us the contour of the current situation.
- Also mark each booth on whether it’s urban or rural segment as well (O)*
- Also mark each booth on its caste, religion composition (O)
- Take another table and rate each caste and religion in every state and rate them on favor-ability scale (S)
- Now enter details of voting pattern percentage of total voting and votes received by BJP in last 5 elections (O)
- Consider candidate details like caste and results in each seats in last 5 elections (Winnability of BJP in last 5) (O)
- Caveats to add at each seat level if applicable (Events which were not of permanent nature but had impact on the outcome)
Note: (O) Means objective data with no bias involved (S) Bias can lead to in-correct results
Now we have 5-7 axis on which we can do clustering of booths. We can have booths that can be divided in 5 categories. Weight for each axis requires some real insights in to electioneering and is critical factor. Probably needs to do some experimentation with clustering exercise. Basically need to dissect data in multiple ways to see different patterns. As Indian society elections are complex it’s not 1+1=2 game. Probably this exercise can be restricted to few bellwether seats initially.
Now this may provide insights into booths where
1. Voting % needs to increase (Favorable to BJP but low voting booths)
2. Needs to win over local caste leader or candidate selection may have impact (High voting booths but fluctuating over time. Or caste combination is not very favorable)
3. Need to enroll volunteers (BJP’s traction can increase with ground presence)
Let’s say from first exercise we have classified each booth in the country on the scale of 1 to 5. Now what are the actionable insights we can get.
Technology to work on results of 1. Consider Scenario-2:
Take constituency that fall in category 4 and 5.
Booths with favorable parameters like urban center, high potential to find sympathizers etc. If india272.com becomes the tool that works on ground level with leader in charge of constituency, coordinator for each assembly segment down to booth level. Plus BJP leadership should endorse and support this endeavor. If it’s not mission critical effort it will not yield desire outcome. Target should be to get at least 10 volunteers for category 5 seats (Potentially BJP members in future) per booth and 2x for each category up-to level 1 seat. By doing this it is ensured that there are troops at ground level for each booth. That’s remarkable.
Now the requirement is to
1. Ensure two way communication
Induction of volunteers is required. There are enough fence sitters and it requires some missionary response. There should be weekly or bi-weekly meetings at booth level. With agenda set initially from the top. India272.com with SMS/Calendar integration can actually send SMS to all volunteers. Minutes of the meetings e-mail, SMS reminders, SMS weekly agenda to each volunteer.
2. Ensure sense of belongingness and sense of purpose
Volunteers should be able to meet and know who all are associated with the mission. More the merrier. People just get excited by seeing so many people on the ground. There should be first formal meeting that tells how many people are joining, where we are meeting and what’s the agenda. Even in Google with all offices having so many VC units physical meetings are mandatory.
3. Ensure that action is tangible, movement is forward
Once physical meeting has happened have action everyday online either through SMS, email alerts or whatever way possible. There should be enough action on India272.com that it becomes default place to check along with email. Co-ordinated effort by senior leaders to post their itinterary, speeches, agendas, op-eds, videos, etc.
4. Ensure volunteers stay connected
Volunteer should be able to call coordinator or tall free number and update his/her status if s/he is from remote area. Each volunteer should get task list, and coordinator should ensure it’s updated. Coordinator should call every volunteer every week to ensure people know we care. People will lose interest after initial outburst of passion. To sustain it for 20+ weeks is tough requires sustained effort. Everyone should update their call status, meeting status, agenda update. In remote constituency it might require more field work hence require mobile app to help coordinators. Paper work and then converting it to digital copy will not work. App should be in indian languages.
5. Management of the mission
There should be bird’s eye view for each constituency and it can be public information as well in all democratic sense. Coordinators, volunteers should get points and visible recognition on the site and elsewhere. Leadership should be able to track action, reach volunteers, and focus on getting message out. Imagine volunteer in Balia getting call from Rajnath Singh/Modi and getting congratulated for his/her effort.
What it can do beyond 2014 is just mind boggling. But parking my thoughts for later.
When I saw BJP’s http://www.india272.com/ site I was pleasantly surprised at political party’s ability to bring in technology to try to change the political landscape in India.
Even if the effort is not fully materialized it gave me ideas which I thought are worth sharing.
Technology as enabler not for the sake of it.
If you see http://www.india272.com/ is good looking site with some real punches with it. Will it be effective in changing outcome? I doubt it.
- Action is on the ground not on the web
Yes, you can say you have to create ‘hawa’ online also but to sustain it for 10 months is tough task. Site or app should be used as tool rather than utility.
- Tool without hands
What any site provides is tool. You need hands to use it. Similarly someone has to take leadership run with it. Probably create organisational hierarchy. With existing party members. And set agenda. Do follow up. Update information etc.
- Technology for ground reality
Any technology that we apply should solve real life problems. What should be the objective of the technology employed? To mobilize voters to vote on the day of polling. Keep them informed on the way and motivate them to participate in the political activities and have them stay invested in the outcome of the poll. Does current site do it? 50-50 or less I would say.
- Final product
So, now we know objective of the tool probably we can roughly outline what it ought to do.
- App and site should be as intuitive as possible as most users will not be tech savvy
- Tool should work when user is offline
- Tool should provide me mobile connectivity
- Tool should collect information till booth level
- Tool should have task creation, follow up, deadline, update etc
- Tool should have role based access
- Users should get feel of community ability to look for volunteers in every booth in entire country
- There should be leader for each booth who can set up tasks voter enrollment, meeting, events, preparing marketing material and distributing it etc. etc.
- Volunteers can update their tasks. Suggest new tasks.
- There should be physical meeting at booth level with 20 week agenda
- Whole purpose of the tool is to enable all volunteers to participate in the massive effort to mobilize voters. It has to happen on the ground. Tool has to enable that. i.e. Sending minutes of the meetings, Sending reminders etc.
- When user signs in s/he should get sense of accomplishment, sense of things moving etc. Ability to reach out at constituency, state or even national level coordinators
- There should be a mobile APP that allows accessing all this information
- Mobile APP that should download data when installed and should have auto sync when user connects to network as there may not be data network available all the time
Without these kind of features it will be just wishlist and also ran kind of site.
There is potential and it’s worth exploring.
Every time any loud mouth opens his mouth in India, almost in an orchestrated fashion demands come to either ban or arrest an individual. And we have enough loud mouths to keep media busy every day.
This kind of reaction to ban/arrest is nothing but suicidal if you are liberal and believe in freedom of speech. Moment you start demanding restriction on free speech time may come as in Pakistan where Taliban is stopping girl students like Malala to raise their voice in favor of education for girl child. You may say it’s an extreme case and almost barbaric. But that’s the point. They are not on another planet. Only 300kms from Delhi. Just happens to be another country that was part of India 65 years ago. We also have cases of girls booked for Facebook posts
Owaisi and his Islamist rhetoric, demonizing Ram, Kaushalya and other Hindu Gods, going to Pakistan with Taj Mahal and leaving Ajanta for us Indians, or killing 100cr hindus, was the kind of things that Islamists talk in private anyway (Hear few of the Friday sermons and you will be really see the problem. But that’s for another blog.). And are people agitated and on the roads protesting? Let’s be honest. People might be genuinely hurt. But is it reason enough to punish Owaisi? (On different note no disturbances by Hindus even though no action was taken for 10 days. That’s normal reaction for civilized people. Shrug off and move on. Remarkable isn’t it?).
I am not for punishing anyone for speaking his mind. Unless there is direct provocation to violence there is no case. And that’s not free speech either. Case may be made of provocation to riots for saying “25cr Muslims will kill 100cr Hindus in 15 minutes if Police will look other way”. Making case of hurting religious sentiments is non-sense. Every time atheist like me speaks against God some believer is hurt! Insulting Gods and Godesses? As Hindus have proved their belief is stronger than trash criticism of Islamist like Owaisi. So don’t play in the hands of ultra secular media. What we want is open discussion on speeches like this. Let the trash come on surface and dis-appear. No need to punish someone for declaring himself to be an Islamist, Ignorant of history and idiotic in thinking that Taj Mahal can be carried to Pakistan. Punishments for speaking your mind is too Islamic and/or intolerant thinking.
Why change is so tough in Indian society?
Almost 2 years ago it was anti corruption agitation by Anna Hazare and his India Against Corruption. There was tremendous support for him and his movement for 6 months to a year and then it suddenly tapered off. Did corruption reduce in India? No. Did he himself become corrupt? No.
I can go as far back as 1974 till JPs movement against Indira. You can see in every incident there would be outpouring of support on one issue and then issue will die. Almost as if it never mattered.
Personally speaking I was convener of (wait let me recall… aah! Youth for equality :)). Spent lot money, time and energy to organize protests against reservation in higher education. Working with Google spent days on something that doesn’t even remotely affect me. Something sucked me in and kept me in for long enough. Almost 2-3 months. Today when bill is being discussed about reservation in promotion in government jobs which is lot worse than reservation in jobs or education I am almost un-affected. I bet that’s the state of most of my comrades who spent days on streets with me.
You take any event in last 30-40 years and you can notice same pattern. Don’t go in reasons. Observe the pattern. Why? I guess it is because we Indians are emotional in our thinking, approach and response. An emotions by nature comes in spike. When it subsides it takes away all the energy and passion you thought you had all the while. And you can see the same thing repeated again and again whether it’s the movement I participated in or any other event. Emotion by nature is not sustainable. It can’t go on forever (here).
Now let’s see how we Indians react to things as a society. You can be exception but we have to look things how are we as society. We enjoy music that appeals to our heart. Music should move us not necessarily on dance floor but surely with in. We enjoy movies that are emotional in nature. Things are changing but in country like India things don’t change in a generation. Though I still listen to Ghazals I personally don’t watch sentimental movies anymore. We are family oriented and emotionally attached people as society. Focus is more on kinship and tribal allegiances than professionalism. Sentimental excuses are employed rather than flat NOs. Relations weigh more than rightful behavior. Gods are personal and can be pleased by blatant bribe or bartering system. Elections are fought not on hard issues but mostly on emotional issues.
As a society we respond emotionally to any issue. It can be argued that emotions are required to stir up people and debate in society. But they need to be channelized for sustained actions else issue will remain relevant as long as emotions are high.
So will things change after Delhi’s gang rape? I wish it changes. I wish we get long pending Police and Judicial reforms. But that’s not even there on the table for discussion. What’s in the menu is death penalty and castration. What about solving the root cause? Speedy trial, fast convictions, and above all rule of law. Why should DGP or powerful politician’s son should get away with anything? But No. As usual we foolish people will rant and rave and demand justice and go home doing what we have been doing for 1000s of years.
If people know that they will be caught and they will not be spared they will be not try to be too brave. Some perverts will still be there. But people in Delhi and other places where every chhota mota guy who knows someone powerful thinks that he can get away with anything even with murder by paying his way out. That is the problem that must be attacked severely. How? Not by tougher laws or bringing some super cop. But by making sure that system works. By making Police and Judiciary more efficient, accountable and answerable. Until then horror will continue.
UPA government in center woke up from 2 years of hibernation that they went in after successive scams of 2G, CWG, Adarsh, Coal and others. Government finally took policy decision to allow FDI in aviation and retail, increased diesel prices and reduced subsidy on LPG cylinders.
In reaction TMC withdrew support from the government and opposition called for strike on 20th September.
Barring few editorials there is complete lack of debate on these issues. In matured democracy these issues and their implication should be discussed and debated at length. Instead what we have is emotional cry from both ends.
Inability of the two major political parties, BJP and Congress, to articulate their stand on these issues and debate it in meaningful way shows how superficial today’s politics has become.
Neither opposition is asking Government nor Government is articulating its policy in detail. Why foreign money is good? Or why it is bad? Are we going back to era of East India Company or are we going to allow money, skill, technology and efficiency of foreign companies to improve overall retail business and supply chain in India? Will government ask MNCs to procure their goods from India? Or will they compete with Tatas, Ambanis, Adanis and others on equal footing? Will MNCs get undue advantage and dump foreign goods in India? Or will they have to buy items from local producers and sell at MRPs? There is no clarity about these points.
BJP and other opposition parties are playing to the fear of countrymen in bad economic environment. It might work to their advantage. But what country needs is not bandh but informed discussions, engaging countrymen on important issues just as it happened during Lokpal.
And thats where todays politics failed while Anna’s movement succeeded. It succeeded because it was honest in its approach, steadfast in its belief and open to discuss each and every matter related to Lokpal.
Any sensible party who wants to be credible alternative should take cue from it. They will gain more credibility by engaging with citizens and building opinions. They may see Bandh as good instrument to create impact and play to the gallery but is no alternative to being responsible and mature opposition.
It is dangerous game un-leashed. Why? If Muslims are backward by all means grant them backward status, but don’t carve separate category of muslim OBC quota. What will that achieve other than muslims getting to know that they have separate pie in reservation cake?
If muslims welfare and social integration is on the mind of Congress politicians they should notify communities with in muslims as backward. I guess it is already there in most of the states and in centre as well.
Whole gamut is based on the premise that Muslims are fool. They can be used as vote bank in UP and then dump as before. But it’s shortsightedness at its best.
MJ Akbar in his brilliant book tinderbox shows how Muslims went on different trajectory by following theory of separation. What we need is to bring our muslims back to main stream and development fold.
Affirmative action if necessary give it under same OBC quota. Moment you say it’s muslim OBC quota you are saying they are different. Congress, in its desperation to win muslim votes back, is playing with fire.
Solution to prosperity is right to education. Modern and scientific education free and accessible to everyone not 7th century scriptures taught as absolute truth.
Baba went on fast claiming it to be a satyagraha. Satyagraha or tapasya as he put it of 14 hours a day fast. Baba and government reached 99% agreement before he sat at ram lila maidan. So what was the need to sit on satyagraha? Why government kept mum till 4th evening that they have reached agreement with Baba. What about BJP and RSS? Did they found massiah in Baba?
Well it’s story of double cross by government, baba and sangh.
Governemnt: In retrospect government was never serious about joint lokpalbill drafting committee (LDC) exercise. Agreement was more to contain the fallout of protest than any seriousness on their part to bring tough anti corruption law. Government wanted to fold up the drama of lokpalbill drafting committee. First they tried to discredit Anna and his associates with corruption charges. When that didn’t work and found themselves in difficult situation. They found the instrument in BABA to undermine the credibility of ANNA and his associates. Strike deal with baba, show him bigger than he really is and do hell with anna.
BABA: Baba may not want to be a king but he looks like a person who will enjoy being a king maker. He declared his aspiration to be in political arena by announcing that he would start his political party. Anyways, when government agreed to LDC, case can be made that he wanted to be accommodated on the LDC. When he raised the issue of nepotism of 2 Bhushans on LDC eyebrows should have been raised. Looks like in his own scheme of things he struck deal with Sanghis who were desperately looking for platform to gain credibility. Nationalist, Saffron clad baba was perfect for them. I don’t know what government offered to baba, but BABA apparently fell for it (after seeing the letter that Sibal released on 4th evening).
Sangh/BJP: They needed much required credibility to re-occupy oppoisition’s space they gladly conceded to Anna and others. They also needed shoulder from where they could fire as they couldn’t strike chord with masses on the issue of corruption. BABA was perfect instrument. It was win-win for Sangh/BJP with baba compared to apolitical Anna. If baba succeeds BJP can claim credit if BABA fails BJP can make him martyr as they are doing rightnow.
So what went wrong? Well congress hoped Baba will enjoy his day of limelight and call it off in the evening as agreed. But, BABA didn’t play by the script and wanted to enjoy to media attention may be for couple of more days. Government got pissed and released the letter. Which in turn made BABA lose his cool and announce that he will continue fast. Government lost nerves or in order to prove its virility attacked.
It was politics and what is happening is also politics. But by attacking BABA at 1am in the night government is at serious disadvantage.
14 hours a day fast: http://t.co/z5DrImy
Walk the talk: http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/walk-the-talk/the-matter-starts-with-lokpal-bill-but-doesn-t-end-there-baba-ramdev/201522
Sidhi baat: http://aajtak.intoday.in/videosection.php/videos/karyakramsubsec/1/84
Sibal on baba’s broken promises: http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/news/video-story/201672
Baba’s camp on why they signed letter: http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/news/why-we-signed-controversial-letter-ramdev-camp/201737