Reflections of a young Indian who has seen both the elections of UP and technology
It was the winter of 2012, but the temperature was already soaring in Uttar Pradesh with politicians fighting their lives out for the hot seat of Lucknow . In the dust and heat, I was lucky enough to witness all the action from ground zero, being a Legislative Assistant to a young, dynamic and thought provoking Member of Parliament. We were campaigning for his close relative who was contesting for his “home seat”, which was already held by his other relative.
We started campaigning from 6 AM in the morning, covering villages, towns and markets till 8 PM in the night. The size of the kafila swelled as we moved from village to village. I was overwhelmed but not the MP. He was worried, not about the results but about a bigger issue. How to listen to so many people? How to remember their grievances, needs and demands? How to follow-up on them? There are so many of them. Each mouth has a hundred stories, complaints and demands. Each village has a different issue. Each block has a different opinion.
To manage this, each leader and political party have a sea of representatives in their constituency. Their number is displayed in all posters, banners and communications for people to reach them. But the information collected is of no use, as it can’t be verified and is not structured. Even connecting to a particular representative when you are about to reach his area to give a speech is like searching a salt-free drop in a sea.
This is when; I recollected my talk with Vijay from Exotel. Could IVR be an answer to this problem? Why have so many numbers, when you can have one. One toll-free number for the entire constituency or state or political party, on which people can register all their grievances, needs, demands and feedbacks. No need to keep calling different numbers with no satisfactory reply or to travel to the residence and office of leaders and line up for days to say a few lines. It will also lead to a centralized two-way information sharing between workers and leaders during the election; and avoid confusion and goof-ups.
Leader across the world are using such technology. Mr. Barack Obama used it to great success during the 2012 Presidential Race .
Our very own Anna used Missed Call Marketing to garner support for the never-happening Lokpal Bill. Services like call recording and call data records can help in easily structuring and analyzing the information and following up on them. Political parties can use the information to figuring out the mood of the electorate and shape electoral issues.
With almost 900 million telephone subscribers and 73% teledensity , mobile telephony is the easiest and cheapest way to connect with the citizens today. It’s an idea whose time has come in India and our leaders should embrace it to address their biggest challenge. Satisfaction and sense of inclusion, the voters will get by voicing their opinion conveniently and the support it will snowball into can only be imagined.
Especially with the upcoming General Elections of 2014, it makes sense with such technology improvements, consultants to these politicians should take such proposals and implement them.
This guest post is by Nitesh Kumar Singh , LAMP Fellow, 2011-12. He has worked extensively with MP’s in Delhi in parliaments and also was part of the UP Elections recently.