General Elections 2014 in India, A Litmus Test for Social Media

This  General Elections 2014  in India is going to be a litmus test for Social Media too, other than the traditional political rhetoric .  The expansion  & reach of social media platforms have grown phenomenally in last five years in India.  In  General Elections, held in year  2009,  social media has no influence & reach . In  General Election in 2014, social media is buzzword among politicians and electorate alike.  For many of the electoral battle in urban  India,  Face book likes and Tweets  will be a deciding factor in winning or losing of a candidate.

General Elections 2014- A social Media Litmus test

According to a report published in April 2013 by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and the Mumbai-based Iris Knowledge Foundation, Face book users will “wield a tremendous influence” over the results of the polls in 160 social media sensitive constituencies of India’s 543 parliamentary  constituencies.

 The two popular social media platforms, Face book, with over 90 million users  and twitter, a micro blogging site, has over 33 million  users in India. With less than two day to  go for General Elections 2014,  one of the big question remains how much social media  will influence the outcome of  elections in India ?

 Young & social media active voters in India 

General elections in India are BIG but this time it is also YOUNG.  According to Election  Commission of India,  the total electorate  is approx.  814.5 million compared to 713 million in 2009. This  marks an increase of more than 100 million electorate.

There has been a remarkable increase in the enrollment of electors in the age group of 18 to 19  years. Over 23 million electors are in this age group. Electors in the age group of 18 to 19 years now constitute 2.88% of total electors, against 0.75% in 2009.

So, there is major push from political parties to “Catch them Young”  voters,  and what better place than social media platforms.  According to  We are Social, over 213 million  Indians  are using the internet,  17  per cent of total population and approx 94  percent of these are on Face book, 78 per cent on Google plus,  and 67 per cent on Twitter. The Mobile internet penetration  has reached  to 11  per cent. The  young populace  are spending over 2 hours and 26 minutes  on an average on social media.

Political Parties Hitching to Social Media Bandwagon

The main two political parties- Bharitya Janta Party(BJP), the first mover on social media platform,  &  Congress  have invested highly in social media promotions & outreach in a bid to capture  the mind space of the voters. Also, Aam Aadmi Party with its unique social media strategy is making inroads to garner online attention. They are making the best use of social media platforms to woo urban & young voters active on social media platforms  from innovative  online promotion, to tweet chat, Google + hangouts, Facebook live, dedicated You Tube channels  to  WhatsApp, a mobile messenger service.

BJP’s prime ministerial candidate  Narendra Modi’s (NaMo  on social Media)  takes the lead in social media popularity chart, followed by former union minister Shashi Tharoor,  who was among the first to be active on social media platforms.   Now, there is a mad rush among  politicians to hitch the bandwagon of social media before it is too late.  Even, veteran leaders   Mulayam Singh Yadav  of Samajwadi Party and Lalu Prasad Yadav  of  Rashtriya Janta Dal , who once detested “Computer” and “English Language”  have bitten by the social media bug.

Today, young voters are social media active. They  are  voicing their opinion and canvassing for their popular leaders on social media platforms and influencing decisions within  their contacts,  household with a close reach to information on their laptops or on mobile handsets.

 Election Comission of India Gearing Up For Social Media 

Election Commission of India sensing the power  & impact of social media has already  issued  strict guidelines for using social media platforms  by political parties.  This is for the  first time, Election commission will keeping a close eye on the expenditure incurred on social media promotion.Mobile and internet technology is changing the face of election observation, too. ECI will also be live streaming the voting from selected polling stations in the country.


Social media in India is an evolving trend, and this general elections result might start a new discourse  for elections to come. However, it will be interesting to wait and watch, whether the popular  online sentiments, and the millions likes, thousands of share and  million tweets can translates into REAL VOTES  .


-Kumar Manish (@kumarmanish9)

** The article can be republished with due credit to  its original author.



My Bus, Longest BRTS Corridor in India, Launched in Bhopal

Bhopal, popularly known as the “City of Lakes,” added another feather in its cap with the launch of ‘My Bus,’ the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), a new form of public transport system in India. My Bus was  carefully named to highlight a sense of public ownership of the new improved version of public transport in the city. Bhopal is the capital city of Madhya Pradesh (MP), the Hindi-language heartland of India. My Bus, for the first time in India have added push button features for pedestrians to access the system and has special security measures to ensure women safety.

My Bus was formally launched on September 27, 2013 by state chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Recently, Indore, a sister city of Bhopal, had launched iBus, another BRTS. Now, two of the most prominent cities in Madhya Pradesh have a BRTS in operation. Gujarat is the only state in India to have two BRTS systems running in Ahmedabad & Rajkot, with a third one to be launched in Surat by the end of year 2013.

Bhopal is named after the famous King Raja Bhog, who found the area suitable for his dream water harvesting project, Bhoj reservoir (648 square kilometres) and laid down the foundation of the city. According to the 2011 Census, the city of Bhopal has a population of 18.43 lakhs and the municipal area is spread out in 285 Square kilometres, with 647 Km of urban roads.

The Pilot Corridor of My Bus Is Launched 


The length of the pilot corridor of My Bus is 23.95 kilometres and the width of the corridor is 30 metres and 60 metres. Altogether, there are 82 bus stops from starting from the Misrod Section to the Bairagarh Section on the pilot BRTS corridor, making it the longest BRTS corridor in India. The corridor will have 26 air conditioned buses exclusively running in the corridor. The 24 Km long corridor would take around an hour in the dedicated corridor, with a maximum fare of IRS 26 (0.43 US dollars).

My Bus Boasts of An Intelligent Transport System and Smart Features 


The BRTS buses can be live-tracked for its current location, current speed, and last updated time and status of the vehicle. And the report generation compiles paths the vehicle travelled in the specified time range, with vehicle’s start & end time along with maximum speed, distance, idle time, location details, and speed graphs, among other details. The buses also have passenger access information such as what the next stop to be reached is, and the final destination of the bus.

Travelling Made Easy-Pay by Your Smart Card or Plastic Coins

My Bus bus stations will have automated vending machine with installed fare gates. Also, at the point of sale, smart card issue machines will be installed.

According to My Bus officials, passengers have the option to purchase a travel card and keep recharging it at the bus terminus or selected stops. Travel card users will receive other benefits. Passengers without smart cards can purchase a plastic coin in the bus stop before boarding. Passengers swipe it during entry via the rear doors, and swipes his card again, or drops the plastic coin, in the exit in the front doors. Passengers can still pay in cash to the driver who will carry an electronic ticketing machine.

My Bus’s Innovative Special  Branding & Outreach Exercise

A special mention for My Bus’s branding and outreach: Officials have put a lot of heart & soul in the marketing strategy to popularise the system. Public transport systems in the country rarely invest time, energy, or money in publicity. It will be a game changer to reach out to the targeted audience, and will play a major role in influencing commuter choice to use BRTS. First, they began with an open competition for a system name, hired professionals to maintain online platforms like the My Bus official website and its social media marketing platforms. Second, they came up with unique advertisements with catchy one-liners which were broadcast on TV and local radio channels before and during the launch of the BRTS.  And in the future, they will be intensifying their outreach exercise with more public engagement through an essay competition and photo journey, among other innovative marketing strategies.

From initially negative reporting in local newspapers, the system is now getting positive buzz. This perceptible change is due to the sharing of information between My Bus authorities and media personals on the development of the project.

One of the interesting outreach methods was releasing newspaper-styled booklets in Hindi, with a free bus pass for the day, highlighting the importance of the BRTS to the city. See it on its official website:My Bus Newspaper booklet.

Special Measures for a Special Public Transport System

However, for its successful implementation, the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) took several strong measures to ensure a smooth BRTS ride. BMC hired 150 traffic wardens to man the corridor as special police officers. Officials received legal orders to fine drivers entering the dedicated bus lane.  Roadside parking was banned, and vending along the road in pedestrian pathways was stopped by the authorities to maintain ttraffic flow.

Controversy Courting My Bus BRTS in Bhopal

The controversy over the width of BRTS lanes, lack of footpaths over bridges, and accident related issues forced the state government of Madhya Pradesh to form a State assembly estimates committee, which inspected the BRTS corridor in Bhopal under the chairmanship of Mr. Omprakash Saklecha.

According to a Hindustan Times article quoting the report of the committee, “First, for the safety of the passengers, at least 20 foot bridges need to be built across the corridor so that passengers can use them to reach the central corridor. Second, at the main crossing, there is need to build flyovers, otherwise the journey on the BRTS corridor will get slow. Third, side lanes for two wheelers need to be built on both sides. The corridor is not just about the buses plying in the central lane. You have to also take care of people using private vehicles.”

However,  the same article quoted Bhopal Municipal Corporation authorities denying the objections raised by the committee. The article can be found here:  Three Things Missing from Bhopal BRTS

Paradigm Shift in Public Transport in City of Bhopal 


Bhopal is infamous for its old minibuses, which run in an erratic way and in a very disorganized fashion. Most of the minibuses are in decrepit condition. These buses run with no fixed routes. According to the report Optimization of Public Transport Demand: A Case Study of Bhopal by Ar Anuj Jaiswal, Dr. Ashutosh Sharma, “the shift from private to public transportation has numerous advantages for city of Bhopal, such as:

1. Ensures Safety: Public transportation can be one of the safest modes of travel in Bhopal.

2. Saves Money: Money is saved greatly in transportation costs for both highway and public transportation users.

3. Eases Traffic Congestion: Nearly half of all residents of the city believe traffic is a serious problem where they live, especially the people living in the space-constrained Old City area.

4. Improves Air Quality: Public transportation helps promote cleaner air by reducing automobile use, which can exacerbate smog and public health problems. For each kilometer travelled, fewer pollutants are emitted by transit vehicles than by a single-passenger automobile.

5. Reduces Energy Consumption: Public transportation can significantly reduce dependency on petrol, reducing auto fuel consumption by 1.5 billion gallons annually.

6. Fosters More Livable Communities: Public transportation facilities and corridors are natural focal points for economic and social activities. These activities can help to create strong neighborhood centers that are more economically stable, safe, and productive. Studies have shown that the ability to travel in an area conveniently, without a car, is an important component of a community’s livability.

New Lifeline for Bhopal 

The My Bus BRTS is slated to become the new and reliable lifeline for commuters in Bhopal and provides opportunity, access, a viable transit option, and less congested roads, all of which contribute to an improved quality of life in Bhopal.

Picture Credit:

Mr. Chandramauli Shukla, Chief Executive Officer, Bhopal City Link Limited. Bhopal Municipal Corporation


Official Facbook Page: My Bus Bhopal

Official Website: My Bus Bhopal

*** The article originally get published on Sustainable Cities Collective.


Gandhinagar mayor gets FB likes from Turkey

TOI,AHMEDABAD: For the record, it’s not only Congress biggies like Ajay Maken and Digvijaya Singh who enjoy a strong ‘fan following’ in Turkey. Gandhinagar mayor Mahendrasinh Rana, who recently shifted loyalties to the BJP, also has a huge fan base in Istanbul with more than 50,000 ‘likes’ on his Facebook page from Turkey’s capital city. But one may ask, how come the Gandhinagar mayor has a fan base in that city larger than Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbas’ who has just 411 likes and six people talking about his Facebook page?

Rana started his Facebook account, ‘Mayor of Gandhinagar Mahendrasinh Rana’, in June this year and has already garnered 50,274 likes with 10,235 people talking about it. Almost 90% of Rana’s ‘likes’ were garnered in the early weeks of July, after which they declined in August. Rana also maintains another page on Facebook which is believed to be his personal page. Mahendrasinh Rana could not be contacted on phone for his comments, despite several attempts.

Last month, 34% of Maken’s 99,154 likes were from Istanbul and 24 per cent from Russia. In the case of Digvijay Singh, out of 4,636 likes garnered by his Facebook page last month, nearly 53.7% were acquired from Istanbul.

“There are many websites where one can buy ‘likes’ on Facebook and ‘followers’ on Twitter. These firms are called ‘third parties’ in social media terminology, who open email accounts in huge numbers and use them to create Facebook and Twitter accounts. Every like on FB page costs a little less than Rs 4,” said Parthesh Patel, who handles some pages of Gujarat Congress.

PS: The Article sourced from Times of India, Ahmedabad written by Paul John (

Internet & Social Media Changing Dynamics of News in Mainstream Media : IIMC & MSL Study

Internet & Social Media collectively is fast  becoming the major source of information for media professionals in the country. Majority of journalists cutting across age, gender, region, language, medium and specialization are using the internet from story conceptualization, and ‘content validation to background research and insights into current and evolving news updates and trends’. Social Media platforms has become a crucial platform for journalists to gauge & understand public opinion during crisis situation.

Where journalists are getting the lead for their story?

Where journalists are getting the lead for their story?

These insights and many more has been revealed in the 1st ever study – “Media Insights Report – EVOLVING SOURCES OF NEWS FOR MEDIA, conducted by Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), premier institutes for training, teaching and research in mass communication and MSL, a multidiscipline communications firms.

“Twitter is the new-age Parliament and Facebook is the new-age café.Social media is not an alternative to mainstream media, but is emerging as a force to shape the behavior of mainstream media.”

In together, 309 journalists were identified for the study comprising of 239 media professionals from English, 60 from  Hindi-language print media outposts, news and business television channels and digital media organizations and 10- Ten other journalists were selected from Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil and Telegu media.

Also out of the 309 respondents surveyed, 90 percent use social networking platforms, reaffirming the altering patterns of an increasingly multi- channel communications landscape. With younger journalists accessing social networking platforms with greater frequency, the age-factor presumably plays up here as well. 94 percent of journalists with less than 10 years of experience visit social networking platforms versus 59 percent of their counterparts who have more than two decades of experience.

According to study, “Personal interviews with journalists offered refreshing insights into the dynamics of social media usage. One respondent said he used Twitter to build contacts. Another said that scanning social networking sites offered a glimpse into the psyche of the youth. Journalists often surf the social networks to know what’s trending, and gauge the mood of the people, especially post a crisis situation. Another journalist opined that the advent of social media had changed the way ‘breaking news’ was being perceived.”

However, on top remains the sacrosanct news meeting which is held in every media houses for story ideas.

The research was conducted through one-on-one interviews with a number of journalists based in Delhi and telephonic interviews with journalists from various other cities and towns.

Key Findings on Social Media Platforms:

Twitter for getting connected & to have conatacts. Linkedin and google Plus cuts no ice with journalists,

Twitter for getting connected & to have contacts. Linked-in and Google Plus cuts no ice with journalists,

  • 90 percent Journalists use social networking platforms, reaffirming the altering patterns of an increasingly multi- channel communications landscape.
  •  Younger journalists accessing social networking platforms with greater frequency.
  • 92 percent Journalists have adopted the Internet for reasons ranging from research and information sourcing to story ideation and validation. While a meager 4 percent was found to draw resources from the Net to frame story ideas, 11 percent have been consuming the digital space for validation and 64 percent of journalists consider it as an effective platform for research and information sourcing.
  • Facebook rules the roost with 56 percent of journalists frequenting this platform over others.There’s this myth associated with social media of not being focused. The truth is you can be as serious or as frivolous on social media.
  • Checking on the veracity of sources involves identifying more innovative touch points across social media, company web sites and blogs, among others. A majority of journalists cutting across age, gender and specialization use the Internet to develop their stories.

Key Finding on Traditional form of Outreach : 


  • PR/Communication agencies and companies need to use the Net vigorously to reach out to the journalists faster.
  • Communication agencies are best placed advising their clients to post crisp content, sound bytes, clips and pictures on their web sites as journalists, especially in crisis situations, look for authentic pieces of information amid grapevine.
  • They also look for quotes from company spokespersons that could easily be made available through company web sites.
  • The traditional way of writing and sending press releases has long become outdated.
  • There is clearly a need to reinvent touch points, formats, styles and objectives of press releases when over 47% journalists use less than 10% of the press releases they receive. It is crucial for the sources of dispatching news releases to be exclusive.
  • Seniors file less number of articles than their junior counterparts.
  •  Internal brainstorming meetings are the biggest source of story ideas
  • Communications agencies are most preferred by journalists covering sports, followed by those covering Business & Corporate and Science & Technology Women reporters have a greater affinity for communications agencies versus their male counterparts

Key Findings on News Gathering by Journalists:

  • Most journalists (62%) prefer getting their information directly from the source, while choosing multiple options in the questionnaire. This could mean opting for interactions with the concerned spokesperson, engaging in a site visit, referring to company websites as a content source.
  • 89 percent of the journalists said that the gender of the source was immaterial. 
  • Sources for doing a well-rounded story, analysts are getting extremely important.
  • Company spokespeople are getting very repetitive. There are very few spokespeople who have that spark to keep a conversation going, without sounding the same every time.
  • Company websites can be an important source of information but far too many companies don’t even bother updating their websites, which kills the purpose. 

Credit : IIMC & MSL

Full Report (Must Read) :